Surya namaskara is a well known and vital technique within the yogic repertoire. Its versatility and application make it one of the most useful methods to induce a healthy, vigorous and active life and at the same time prepare for spirtual awakening and the resultant expansion of awareness. In recent years more and more people have moved away from mere ritual and are turning to yoga as a method for exploring and improving thier inner lives. Though the need for techniques to enhance physical, mental and spirtual evolution has been recognized, the fast pace of modern living makes it difficult for even the most determined individual to implement yoga practice. And it is practice as the most important and fundamental issue in terms of our betterment.

It is with these thoughts in mind that this book has been written, for suryanamaskara is almost a complete sadhana in itself, containing asana, pranayama and meditational techniques within the main structure of the practice. For most of us, today's lifestyle accentuates mental tensions, worries and seemingly insoluble problems at many levels, such as personal interrelationships, economics, and even geopolitical threats of war and destruction. At the same time the amount of sedentatry or semi-sedentary work is increasing due to the increase in technology and labour saving devices. This has led to a situation in which mental and physical ill health is increasing. Without an antidote, there seems to be little hope.

Yoga practices are an ideal antidote to stress and are providing to be the basis of a powerful therapy for mental and physical diseases. Suryanamaskara is an integral part of the yogic approach and can be easily integrated into our daily lives for it requires only 5 to 15 minutes of practice daily and this it suits even the most active individuals, such as the busy businessman, the housewife with a family to feed and manage the student who is facing examinations, or the scientist who spends most of his day thinking.

You may have read that the practice of Suryanamaskara revitalizes the body and mind, and helps to eradicate disease, but you must practice the techniques in order to find out the truth for yourself.

Surya namaskara is a practice which has been handed down from the sages of vedic times. Surya means "sun" and namaskara means "Salutation". In ancient times the sun was worshipped as daily ritual because it is powerful symbol of spiritual consciousness. Worship of the outer and inner sun was a religious-social ritual which attempted to placate those forces of nature beyond man's control. It was initiated by enlightened sages who knew that these practices maintained health and led to greater social creativity and productivity.

Surya namaskara is composed of the three elements of form, energey and rhythm. The twleve postures create the physical matrix around which the form of the practice is woven. These postures generate prana, subtle energy, which activates the psychic body. Their performance in a steady, rhythmic sequence reflects the rhythms of the universe, such as the twenty four hours of the day, the twelve zodic phases of the year, the biorhythms of our own body.

The rhythmic superimposition of this form and energy on our present body / mind complex is the transforming force which generates the nucleus of a fuller and more active life and a greater appreciation of the richness of the world we live in.

The Solar Tradition Sun Worship in the vedic tradition adoration and worship of the sun was one of man's first and most natural forms of inner expression. Most of the ancient traditions included some form of sun worship, incorporating various solar symbols and deities, but nowhere have these traditions been so well preserved as they are in the vedic culture. In face, Sun worship is still practiced as a daily ritual in many parts of India today. In ancient India the great avatar Rama becomes the king of the solar race in the Ramayana. The roots of the present Hindu culture lie in the ancient vedic scriptures, which contain numerous slokas referring to the sun. The Rig Veda itself has many such references, a few of which have been given below.

"Aloft this all wise shining God, His beams of light are bearing now That everyone the Sun may see.

Thou goes across the sky's broad place Meeting the days with rays, O Sun, And watching generations pass.

The steeds are seven that at the car, Bear up the God whose hair is flame O, shining God, O Sun far seen".

Again the seers of the Rig veda described the sun as :

"The remover of all weekness, Healer of all illness, Lord of all that stands and goes.

He slays the demons And guards the worshippers".

The Suryapanishad states that persons who worship the sun a Brahman, become powerful, active intelligient and acquire long life. The sun is personified as brilliant like gold, having four arms, seated on red lotus and riding in a chariot drawn by seven horses. He sets in motion the wheels of time, and from him emerge the five physical elements of earth, water, fire, air and either as well as the five senses. The Akshyopanishad identifies Surya with Purusha who assumes the form of the sun with thousands of rays, and shines for the good of humanity. There is a verse form the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which reads as follows:

" O Lord and essence of light
Lead me form the unreal to the real
From the darkness to light

From death to importaility".


Ancient architectural marvels

Several sects of worshippers still exit today. Some worship the rising sun, some the setting sun, some the noonday sun. Though these people appear to worship the physical sun, the real object of their worship is Brahman, the absolute, and its manifestation as creator, preserver, destroyer, of which the sun is but a symbol. There are many ancient sun temples existing in India today, some of which date back as far as the 8th century AD, and are architectural marvels.

The most famous of these was built at Konark, Orissa during the 13th Century AD. The other main sub temples are located in Kashmir, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh's sun god temple in Arasavalli. The sun worshippers of ancient India also developed a scientific analysis of the solar system The Surasiddhanta is an ancient text on astronomy, dealing with the measurement of time, planetary motions, eclipses and equinoxes. Ancient history in other traditions is full of numerous references to sun worship. The pyramids, sculptures and inscriptions, which still remain today, indicate that these ancient cultures had a very precise knowledge of the movements of the sun, moon and planets which formed a vital part of both the social and religious affairs.

 Many of these structures are believed to have been temples, observatories or both as no differentiation was made in ancient times between religion and science as it is today.

Therefore, we can understand how scientific observations of the sub could also be a part of ritual worship and ceremony. The Egyptians who followed a complicated form of sun worship, used their knowledge to construct pyramids for interring and preserving the bodies of the pharaohs, so that these sacred heads of state would be able to share the sun's eternal life. The pyramids themselves were symbols of the sun, and were aligned to receive maximum solar radiation.

The Aztec, Inca and Mayan civilizations all had elaborate temples dedicated to the solar gods. The mayan calendar is said to be one of the most accurate ever produced, revealing detailed knowledge of the sun-thousands of years ago. Legends of Atlantis, which predate history, indicate that sun worship was practised in those times and that these people condensed solar energy by the use of huge crystals to power cities and transportation systems.

 Stonehenge in Britian is believed to have been used as a solar observatory to predict the coming of the seasons, solstices and equinoxes and is also thought to have been a temple of some kind.

It is sophisticated far beyond that expected of the primitive tribes previously associated with those times. The North American Indians lived life by the rhythmic cycle of the sun and seasons. They worshipped the sun and the basis of many of their beliefs, rituals construction methods and so on was a circle or Mandal which symbolized the sun's passage across the sky. Yang and Yin of ancient Chinese philosophy represent the dual relationship existent in nature, symbolized by the sun and moon or pingala and ida of yogic philosophy.

The suns surface periodically erupts into huge flares which extend thousands of miles into space and to us on earth appears as spots on its surface. These sunspots have been observed to undergo various cycles of increasing and decreasing activity, the main cycle of which is approximately eleven years. Correlations have shown that periods of increased sunspot activity correspond with terrestrial phenomena.

There is evidence that wards, revolutions and migrations often correspond to periods of intense sunspot activity. The American Foundation for the study of cycles found over 1300 phenomena related to sunspot cycles. These include the increased frequency of auroras, comets, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, meteor showers, changes in germ cell maturation, electrical potential of trees, fashion, voting trends, fluctuations in stock market prices, increase in the incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes and many other seemingly unrelated events.

This is not surprising when we visualize the immense power of the sun and its radiations or realize that the earth is constantly being baked in a solar wind. The sun is an integral part of life on earth. Surya namaskara takes on a new dimension when we become aware of the effects of the sun on our lives. We can then understand how important it was to our ancestors. At the same time by awakening our own inherent solar forces through this integrated practice we can attune ourselves to the cosmic nature and revitalize our lives.

Salute to the Sun-Suryanamaskara is a series of twelve physical postures. These alternating backward and forward bending asanas flex and stretch the spinal column and limbs through their maximum range. The series gives such as profound stretch to the whole of the body that few other forms of exercise can be compared.

Position 1: Pranamasana or Prayer Pose

Stand erect with the feet together of slightly apart. Place both palms together in front of the chest (namaskara mudra) and exhale fully. Maintain your awareness on the mudra, the pressure of the palms and effect of this mudra on the chest area.

Position 2

Hasta Uttanasana or raised arms pose.

Raise and stretch both arms above the head, with palms facing upwards. Arch the back and stretch the whole body inhale while moving into position. Stretch the head as far back as is comfortably possible and be aware of the curve of the upper back.

Position 3


Hand to foot pose in a continuous movement, bend forward from the hips. Bring the hands to the floor on either side of the feet and the head as close as possible to the knees. The legs should remain straight. The breath is exhaled while moving into position. Try to keep the back straight, focusing your awareness at the pelvis, the pivot point for the stretch of the back and leg muscles.

Position 4

Ashwa sanchalanasana

The equestrian pose keeping both hands in place on either side of the feet, bend the left knee while extending the right leg backwards as far as possible. The right toes and knee touch the floor. Bring pelvis forward, arch the spine and lookup. The fingertips touch the floor and balance the body. The breath is inhaled while bringing the chest forward and up. Focus your awareness at the eyebrow center. You should feel the stretch from the thigh moving upward along the front of the body all the way to the eyebrow center.

Position 5

Parvarasana or mountain pose

Bring the left foot back and place it beside the right. Simultaneously raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms, so that the body forms a triangle with the floor. This movement is performed on exhalation. Aim to put the heels on the floor. Bend the head as far forward as possible so that the eyes are looking at the knees. Focus your awareness at the neck area.

Position 6

Ashtanganamaskara or Salutation with eight limbs

Bend the knees to the floor and then bring the chest and chin to the floor, keeping the buttocks elevated. The hands chin, chest, knees and toes touch the floor, and the spine is arched. The breath is retained in exhalation from position 5. This is the only time that the alternate inhalation and exhalation of the breath is changed. Focus the awareness at the centre of the body or at the back muscles.

Position 7

Bhujangasana or serpent pose -

Lower the hips while pushing the chest forward and upward with the arms, until the spine is fully arched and he head is facing up. The legs and lower abdomen remain on the floor and the arms support the trunk. The breath is inhaled while moving forward and upward into position. Focus the awareness at the base of the spine feeling the tension from the forward pull.

Position 8

Parvatasana or mountain pose -

Keep the arms and legs straight. While pivoting from the shoulders, raise the buttocks and bring the head down to reassume position 5. Exhale while moving into position.

Position 9

Ashwa Sanchalanasana or equestrian pose

Bring the left leg forward placing the foot between the hands. Simultaneously bring the right knee down to the floor and push the pelvis forward. Arch the spine and look up to reassume position 4. The breath is inhaled while moving into the pose.

Position 10

Padahastasana or hand to foot pose -

Bring the right foot beside the left. Straightening the legs, bend forward and raise the buttocks while bringing the head in towards the knees. The hands remain on the floor beside the feet. This is the same as position 3. Exhale while moving into position.

Position 11

Hasta Uttanasana or raised arms pose -

Raise the torso, stretching the arms above the head. Arch backwards to reassume position 2. Inhale moving into position.

Position 12

Pranamasana or Prayer Pose -

Straighten the body and bring the hands together in front of the chest, reassuming position 1. The breath is exhaled.