Surya Namaskara

Surya Namaskara

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The Sanskrit word surya means ‘sun’, and the word namaskara means ‘salutation’ or ‘worship’. Therefore, this practice is known as ‘salutation to the sun’. Surya namaskara is a dynamic exercise. We always recommend practitioners to include it as an essential and integral part of their yoga program.

Surya Namaskara revitalizes the whole body, removes all signs of sleep and is excellent for preparing the body and mind so that maximum benefits can be derived from the subsequent asanas, pranayama, meditation practices and so on. It loosens up all the joints, flexes all the muscles of the body, massages the internal organs, activates the respiratory and circulatory systems as well as helps to tone all the other systems of the body. In short, it harmonizes the whole body-mind complex. It can be practiced at almost any time of the day and in any place. No special preparations are necessary. If you feel tired during the day, a few rounds of surya namaskara will quickly restore the lost vitality, both physically and mentally. If you feel angry or depressed, surya namaskara is an excellent antidote; not a panacea, but a great help in removing emotional disturbances.

Surya Namaskara is a rhythmical, symmetrical exercise which is really a pleasure to perform. When it is perfected, the body almost appears to flow through the different movements without any effort or conscious will. Each part of the body seems to move automatically into the right position at the right time and in the right sequence without any effort. If you try it for yourself you will know what we mean.

Symbolic and spiritual significance

The sun has been adored since time immemorial. The ancient people worshiped the sun with awe, knowing that the sun generates the heat and light necessary to sustain life. They knew that without it there would be no life and no movement. If the sun ceased to exist then life would be snuffed out like the flame of a candle. Most of the ancient civilizations developed religions which were based on sun worship. It was personified by various deities: Mithras of the Persians, Osiris of the Egyptians, Baal of the Chaldeans, Apollo of the Greeks, Surya, the Lord of the heavens in the vedic period of India and so on. All these deities represent rejuvenation of the world’s existence. Various temples and a variety of places were consecrated for the worship of the sun: the pyramids of Egypt, the Yucatan of Mexico, the Zigguruts of Babylonia and Chaldea. It is from these ancient cults that much of the background, rites and symbolism of modern religions have come, but hidden under many different guises and interpretations.

Let us consider the Hindu trinity – Brahma the creator, Vishnu the sustainer and Shiva the destroyer. These symbolize three aspects of life and are directly related to the daily movement of the sun. The passage of the sun can be divided into three phases – the rising, the midday and the setting phase. In time these came to represent the three aspects of life – growth or creation, sustenance or maturity and death, destruction or decay. Thus evolved Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma, the creator, is symbolized by the dawn, the time when things come alive and the daytime cycle starts again. Vishnu the sustainer, is symbolized by the daytime sun which radiates energy into the world allowing things to grow and live. Shiva, the destroyer, is symbolized by the setting sun, which takes with it the energy vibrations of the sun. Yet this disappearance of the sun is only a prelude to its resurrection the following morning. Sunset is necessary for the sun to rise again; decay is necessary for growth, replenishment and rejuvenation, in the same way as destruction of previous concepts is necessary for spiritual growth.

The sun was not only worshiped because of its material nature and power, though it might well have been by less informed persons. The sun itself is a symbol. It symbolizes spiritual illumination and knowledge, the light in the darkness of ignorance. It represents the essence, the spirituality which exists in all material things. It is this essence which is worshiped by the more enlightened people of the ancient cults and religions. The material sun is the manifestation of the deeper, hidden background or substratum. This has been clearly explained by Paracelsus, the medieval alchemist, as follows: “There is an earthly, material sun, which is the cause of heat; and all who are capable of seeing it, even those who are blind, can feel his heat. And then there is an eternal sun, which is the source of wisdom; and those who are spiritually awakened will see this sun and be conscious of His existence.” The material or terrestrial sun is the manifestation of the invisible, spiritual and celestial sun. The spiritual sun represents the spiritual aspects of existence, and from it the material sun of material aspects of life is derived. Therefore, it is the spiritual sun that is regarded as the source of power and inner light but because the material sun can be seen by all, it is this aspect that is seemingly worshiped.

The yearly cycle of the sun was regarded by many ancient cults and religions as symbolic of the life of man, and in fact of ail living things. The birth date of the sun took place three days after its winter solstice. This is because the sun was regarded as dying on its winter solstice (i.e. 22nd December). At this time its power, the intensity of its rays is the lowest (in the northern hemisphere). Three days later (25th December) the sun could be easily and distinctively seen to start to grow stronger and the days start to become longer. This symbolizes the rebirth of life, but more importantly, it symbolizes rebirth into spiritual consciousness. This date was important in many ancient cults, and still is in many religions today.

The sun is a symbol of immortality, for while it died every evening, it was reborn the following morning. The rising of the sun is a time for joy and wonder, for it raises all things from the dead. It restores life again. It is for this reason that surya namaskara was evolved in ancient India. It is mentioned in the Rig and Yajur Vedas, ancient scriptures of India, where various prostrations are prescribed for worship of the sun. However, at that time it did not have the form it has now. It consisted of various static poses combined with mantras. It was not the dynamic exercise that we know today. It is only recently that the individual static poses were combined to form the coordinated exercise that we will describe in this topic. Many people still worship the sun in one form or another. You can treat surya namaskara as an expression of your regard for the sun, whether it is the material aspect or that underlying spiritual aspect that the material sun symbolizes. Or, if you are not inclined to worship, then do surya namaskara for the sake of maintaining and inducing good health. This is the stepping stone to spiritual awareness and peace.

Basic features

Surya namaskara consists of five essential aspects. All of them must be done to gain the optimum results from the practice. These aspects are as follows:

Physical postures

There are twelve physical postures which correspond to the signs of the zodiac. During the sun’s apparent journey through the heavens it passes through each of these celestial houses in turn. It remains in each zodiac for about thirty days and is said to triumph over each sign as it enters its domain. Each position in surya namaskara corresponds to one of these signs of the zodiac.

Breathing

The whole movement of surya namaskara from start to finish is synchronized with breathing. Each position is associated with either inhalation, exhalation or retention of breath. Nothing is forced or unnatural, for the breathing corresponds to the pattern one would normally do in relation to the physical movement. Correct automatic breathing should occur naturally without any prior instructions. However, details of the correct relationship between movement and breath are given to ensure it is done perfectly, for it is air important part of the practice. Without synchronization between the breath and the movement many of the benefits of surya namaskara are missed.

Mantras

Associated with each of the twelve positions of surya namaskara is a specific mantra. A mantra is a combination of syllables, sounds or phrases, realized by ancient sages, which have been widely known in India for thousands of years. They are evocative sounds and through their power of vibration have subtle, yet powerful and penetrating effects on the mind and body. While doing surya namaskara, a particular mantra is repeated either silently or uttered aloud with each position. When surya namaskara is combined with correct breathing and these bija mantras (seed sounds), the entire mind and intellect are energized. These bija mantras create a vibration and it is this which creates the energy. Mantras may or may not have specific meanings. but the vibrations which they create should reach every fiber of one’s being. The mantras of surya namaskara are energized sound. When repeated loudly, clearly and with devotion, these mantras give the greatest possible benefits to those who utter them, either by hastening the curing of an ailment, acquiring stability of mind and self-control, or dissolving tensions caused by modern living. The bija or seed mantras are:

  • Om hram
  • Om hrim
  • Om hrum
  • Om hraim
  • Om hraum
  • Om hrah

The full mantras, one for each movement of the exercise are:

  • Om Hram Mitraya Namah
  • Om Hrim Ravaye Namah
  • Om Hrum Suryaya Namah
  • Om Hraim Bhanave Namah
  • Om Hraum Khagaya Namah
  • Om Hrah Pushne Namah
  • Om Hram Hiranyagarbhaya Namah
  • Om Hrim Marichaye Namah
  • Om Hrum Adityaya Namah
  • Om Hraim Savitre Namah
  • Om Hraum Arkaya Namah
  • Om Hrah Bhaskaraya Namah

The meanings of these names of the sun are as follows:

  • Mitra – friend
  • Ravi – shining
  • Surya – beautiful light
  • Bhanu – brilliant
  • Khaga – who moves in the sky
  • Pushan – giver of strength
  • Hiranyagarbha – golden centered
  • Marichi – lord of the dawn
  • Aditya – son of Aditi
  • Savita – beneficent
  • Arka – energy
  • Bhaskara – leading to enlightenment

However, before you attempt to integrate these mantras with each position we strongly advise that you first perfect the physical movements and synchronization of breath in surya namaskara to gain the maximum benefits.

Awareness

This is an essential element of surya namaskara. Without awareness the many beneficial results are reduced.

Relaxation

This is not strictly a part of surya namaskara. However, it is a necessary supplementary practice that should be done without fail on completing your rounds. Any relaxation technique can be adopted, but the best method is shavasana.

Sequence for learning surya namaskara

You should first familiarize yourself with the twelve postures. In the initial stage only be concerned with mastering the sequence of the physical movements, paying little or no heed to the breathing or mantra repetition. Eventually you will find that all the movements are performed automatically; little or no conscious thought or direction is required. At this stage the movements have been programmed into the mind. Awareness of the physical movement is very important. After this has been mastered ensure that the breath is correctly synchronized with the movement. Awareness should be on both the physical movement and the breathing. Later the mantras can be learnt and synchronized with each position. In the final stage the awareness should be directed as much as possible on the movement, breathing and mantra repetition. In its final form, surya namaskara consists of these different aspects welded together to give an integrated whole. Therefore, to make sure that the final practice is correct it is essential to master this technique in the progressive manner described.

Technique – postures and breathing

The following pages describe step by step the twelve different positions of surya namaskara together with the associated breathing sequence.

Position 1: Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

  1. Stand erect with the feet together.
  2. Face the sun or the direction of the sun.
  3. Place the two palms together in front of the chest in an attitude of prayer, the namaskara mudra.
  4. Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
  5. Be aware of the body for at least half a minute.
  6. This will prepare you for the forthcoming practice.
  7. Try to consciously relax the muscles of the body.
  8. Breathing: Breathe normally with full awareness.

Position 2: Hasta Utthanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

  1. Raise both arms above the head, keeping hands separated by a shoulder’s width.
  2. At the end of the movement bend the head, arms and upper trunk backwards.
  3. The palms should face forwards.
  4. The movement should be executed in one smooth motion with awareness.
  5. Breathing: Inhale while raising the arms.

Position 3: Padahastasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

  1. Bend forward and place the palms of the hands on the floor, either in front of or on each side of the feet.
  2. The movement should be continuous and without any jerking.
  3. Keep the legs straight.
  4. If possible, try to touch your knees with your forehead or chin.
  5. Under no circumstances should undue force be used in order to attain the final position.
  6. Breathing: Exhale as deeply as possible while bending forwards and if possible accentuate the contraction of the abdomen, especially in the final position.
  7. Beginners: Beginners and people with stiff backs will find the final pose difficult to attain. If you cannot touch the floor with your hands, or at most can only touch the floor with your fingertips, don’t worry. It is only a matter of practice. As you become more supple through yoga practices, you will be surprised to find how easy it becomes to place the palms flat on the floor. Only time and practice are necessary. It is important that the legs remain straight in position three, so that the leg muscles (hamstring muscles) are stretched and the legs become more flexible. However, beginners who cannot touch the floor will have to adapt in the following manner: bend forwards as far as you can and try to touch the floor with the fingers or hands, keeping the legs straight. Try to stretch the legs a little more by reaching towards the floor with the fingers, then bend the legs to place the palms on the floor in order to assume position four. However, if avoidable, the legs should not be bent.

Position 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

  1. Stretch the right leg backwards as far as you can.
  2. Simultaneously bend the left leg at the knee, but keeping the left foot in the same position.
  3. The palms should remain on the floor and the arms should remain straight.
  4. Beginners: If this is too difficult for beginners the palms can be raised off the ground, with only the fingertips in contact with the floor. This helps to increase the arch of the back. In the final position the toes and knee of the extended right leg should be in contact with the ground.
  5. Complete the movement by bending the head backwards and arching the spine as much as possible without straining.
  6. The movement should be executed smoothly and with awareness.
  7. Breathing: inhale deeply as you move the body.

Position 5: Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

  1. Raise your right knee.
  2. Simultaneously lower your head towards the floor and bend the back so that the buttocks move upwards.
  3. Stretch the left leg backwards and place the left foot beside the right foot.
  4. Then raise the buttocks as high as possible into the air and further lower the head so that it lies between the two arms.
  5. The legs should be straightened in the final position.
  6. Try to press the heels of both feet towards the ground.
  7. Throughout the practice the arms must remain straight, and the hands and right foot should remain in contact with the floor.
  8. Though attainment of position five requires the movement of various parts of the body, all the movements should be synchronized to form one harmonious and smooth motion.
  9. Breathing: exhale deeply as you perform the movement.

Position 6: Ashtanga Namaskara (Worship With Eight Points)

  1. This position is so called because in the final pose eight points of the body are in contact with the ground.
  2. Lower the body to the ground, first bending the legs and placing the knees in contact with the floor.
  3. Bend the arms and lower the head and trunk towards the ground.
  4. Try to brush your forehead along the surface of the floor as you move the head and trunk forwards.
  5. At the end of the forward movement of the head and trunk, let the chest brush along the surface of the floor and rest the chin on the ground.
  6. Finally raise the abdomen and hips slightly off the ground.
  7. In the final position the eight points should be on the ground: the chin, the chest, two palms, two knees and the balls of both feet.
  8. The whole movement should be smoothly executed.
  9. Breathing: Hold the breath outside, i.e. don’t breathe in.

Position 7: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  1. Lower the hips to the ground.
  2. Simultaneously straighten the arms so that the head and back arch upwards.
  3. In the final position the head and back should be bent backwards as far as is comfortable, but try to keep the abdomen as close as possible to the floor, without straining.
  4. The position of the hands and feet should not change throughout the movement.
  5. Breathing: Inhale deeply during the movement.

Position 8: Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

  1. This position is a repeat of position 5.
  2. From the arched position of bhujangasana bend the back in the opposite direction so that the buttocks move upwards.
  3. Keep the arms and legs straight and don’t move the position of the hands and feet.
  4. In the final pose the buttocks should be as high as possible, the head should be between the arms and the heels should be gently pressed towards the floor.
  5. Breathing: Exhale while performing the movement.

Position 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

  1. This position is a repeat of position 4.
  2. Bend the left leg and place the left foot between the two hands.
  3. Simultaneously raise the head upwards, arch the back downwards and lower the right knee to the floor.
  4. The position of the two hands and the right foot must not change.
  5. The arms should remain straight throughout.
  6. In the final pose, accentuate the arching of the back and bend the head backwards as far as possible.
  7. Breathing: Inhale deeply while assuming the final pose.

Position 10: Padahastasana (Hand To Foot Pose)

  1. This position is the same as position 3.
  2. Lower the head towards the ground.
  3. Simultaneously raise the buttocks and right knee upwards.
  4. Then, when you are able, place the right foot beside the left foot in between the hands.
  5. Straighten the legs and try to touch the forehead to the knees.
  6. Breathing: Exhale deeply as you move the head towards the knees.
  7. Beginners: Ideally, the hands should remain on the floor throughout the movement. However, beginners will find that because of inflexibility of the back they will be unable to straighten the legs if they try to keep their hands on the floor. They should, therefore, allow their hands to leave the floor as they straighten the legs. However, in position three they should stretch the fingers further towards the floor for a few seconds when their legs are straight. This will encourage the back to become more supple so that you can eventually keep the palms on the floor with the legs straight.

Position 11: Hasta Utthanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

  1. This position is the same as position 2.
  2. Smoothly straighten the whole body.
  3. Keep the arms straight and separated by about a shoulder’s width.
  4. Raise the arms over the head and lean the head, arms and back slightly backwards.
  5. To do this the abdomen must be pushed a little forwards.
  6. Breathing: Inhale throughout the movement.

Position 12: Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

  1. This is the final pose and the same as position 1.
  2. Bring the palms together and hold them in front of the chest.
  3. Relax the whole body.
  4. Breathing: Exhale while assuming the final pose. Breathe normally while remaining in the final position prior to continuing the practice.
  5. One complete round

We have described twelve positions. This constitutes a half round of surya namaskara. One full round consists of twenty-four positions. To complete the second half of surya namaskara the same twelve positions are repeated but with two minor modifications.

These are as follows:

  1. In position 16 the left leg is extended backwards followed by the right leg in position 17. This is instead of stretching the right leg backwards as in position 4, followed by the left leg in position 5.
  2. In position 21 the right leg is brought forward followed by the left leg in position 22. This is instead of bringing the left leg forwards in position 9 followed by the right leg in position 10.

The breathing sequence and the mantras remain unchanged. This alternation of the twelve basic positions to form twenty-four is necessary to ensure that both halves of the body are exercised equally – surya namaskara is a perfectly symmetrical exercise.

Breathing

Make sure that you breathe through the nose and not the mouth. If necessary, do jala neti before commencing surya namaskara or your daily practice program. The breathing sequence in surya namaskara is perfectly natural and should occur spontaneously. The breathing that we have already related to each position is that which the body will automatically do, and any attempt to breathe differently will prove uncomfortable and awkward.

There is an easy principle to remember when you are learning surya namaskara. When you bend backwards, inhale, for the chest expands, inducing air into the lungs. And when you bend forwards, then you must exhale, because the abdomen is being compressed, which in turn reduces the volume of the lungs, via the diaphragm, and air is forced out of the lungs. Only while assuming position six, is the breath retained, and if you experiment for yourself you will find that this is also perfectly natural, for it is difficult to lower the body and breathe at the same time.

In summary, there is little or no effort required on your part to ensure correct breathing: your body will tell you. But what you must do is accentuate the inhalation and exhalation more than the body will do naturally. Some effort will be required in this direction.

Awareness

Awareness is an essential part of surya namaskara. If it is performed without any awareness or any attempt to be aware most of the benefits are lost. If you have time it is preferable to stand for a few minutes in position one preparing yourself physically and mentally for the coming practice. The eyes should be closed. If you don’t have very much time, then thirty seconds is sufficient. Be aware of your whole body and the breathing pattern. Try to feel that you are detached from your body and breathing. See or feel a mental picture of the different parts of the body and try to relax them, but at the same time try to remember that you are merely witnessing. The different parts of the body and the breathing are something external; feel as though you are apart from them. Be aware of sensations, but again with a feeling of detachment, with the attitude of being the witness. Experience the peace that comes through merely being, without the confusion and tension of life or having to do something. During daily life most of us are continually extroverted, or if we are introverted it is usually of a morbid, self-deprecating form, just for a short time be introverted with awareness of your feelings. Do not plan for the future or regret the past. Live in the present, even if only for a short time. This can bring wonderful peace of mind. When you are ready, begin the practice. Maintain awareness throughout. Your eyes may be opened or closed, although after mastering the practice it is better to keep the eyes closed. Witness the various movements of the body and the corresponding breathing. Don’t lose yourself in the practice, watch and be continually aware of every movement you perform. In this way surya namaskara becomes a very powerful practice. It not only harmonizes the whole body and mind, but it also develops the ability of awareness and concentration. These wonderful and practical benefits will cany over into your daily life.

Relaxation

An essential sequel to surya namaskara is relaxation. It is necessary to rest the body and allow the heartbeat and respiration to return to normal. It is also essential to intensify the feeling of mental peace and awareness. Any method of relaxation can be utilized, but we highly recommend shavasana because it is a scientific method which induces optimum relaxation of mind and body, at the same time intensifying the awareness. The time spent on relaxation depends mainly on the time taken to perform surya namaskara. At least three or four minutes should be spent relaxing for every ten minutes of surya namaskara. At least five minutes should be spent relaxing if it takes twenty minutes to practise surya namaskara. It is important to relax the body until the heartbeat and respiration return to normal. The practitioner must use his own discretion in this respect.

Tempo

You can do surya namaskara as rapidly or as slowly as you wish; the choice is yours. At first, it should be done slowly to ensure correct development of the movement and breathing. With regular practice your body will begin to gradually flow through the different positions. Under these circumstances you will automatically be able to perform each round in less time. However, be careful not to do the practice so quickly that the inhalation and exhalation becomes shallow and the mantras are not pronounced correctly. Eventually, you will find that the tempo of surya namaskara will be automatically fixed by the time necessary to perform the movement, breath and mantra.

Number of rounds

The number of rounds depends on the health of the individual as well as on the time available. Surya namaskara should not be done to the point of exhaustion. Beginners should start with no more than two or three rounds and add one more round on each successive two days. In this way the body will gradually become accustomed to the increased exercise. It is really impossible to lay down a fixed number of rounds to be done every morning, for this depends entirely on the individual. Do as many as you can in the time available. However, at the slightest sign of exhaustion stop the practice and relax the body. In fact, the body should be your guide as to the number of rounds that you can manage -listen to it carefully and take heed of it. As a rough suggestion, however, a person of reasonably good health should eventually aim to do about twelve rounds every morning. Of course, those who are able can do more, and many people do. If you are not sure on this point seek the guidance of a competent yoga teacher who can prescribe a suitable number of rounds to suit you individually depending on your state of health.

Sequence

Surya namaskara is ideally practiced before doing other asanas, as it helps to remove any sleepiness and to loosen up the body in preparation for your asana practice.

When and where

The best time to practice surya namaskara is in the morning at sunrise. Face the rising sun to absorb the health giving ultraviolet rays. If this is impractical in view of the time of sunrise, climatic conditions and coordination with other yogic practices, it can be done first thing in the morning, preferably after going to the toilet. Surya namaskara can be practiced at other times during the day. However, it is important to wait at least three hours after meals, before attempting the practice. Later in the morning before lunch and in the afternoon before dinner are both good times. It is not advisable to do surya namaskara before sleep because it activates the entire body and this is the opposite effect to what is desired before going to bed. If possible, practice in the open air, perhaps on a lawn or any clean flat surface. A thin mattress, mat or blanket can be placed on the ground but it must be firmly fixed. Otherwise, while learning surya namaskara in particular, the mat tends to slide backwards.

Limitations

There are absolutely no gender or age limitations with regard to the practice of surya namaskara; both young and old, male and female can do it and gain its many benefits. However, women should not do it after their fourth month of pregnancy, but it can be continued after childbirth. Furthermore, women are advised not to do it during menstruation as a precautionary measure. People with certain ailments, such as sciatica, slipped disc, high blood pressure, coronary ailments and so on should not do surya namaskara. If you are not sure on this point seek expert guidance.

Precautions

Surya namaskara is a powerful method of eliminating toxins from the body. However, these toxins should not be eliminated too quickly, for they may manifest in a number of uncomfortable ways, such as huge painful boils. If any such symptoms or sign of fever begins to show, reduce the number of rounds of surya namaskara or even stop altogether for a few days. The toxins must be eliminated from the body, but it should be done gradually over a period of weeks or months, utilizing surya namaskara, asanas and pranayama. As we have already stated, don’t strain yourself by doing more rounds than your physical condition will comfortably allow. Additionally, don’t attempt surya namaskara if you are ill, because at this time all the energy of the body needs to be internalized to heal and remove the ailment.

Instructions

At first some mental effort is required to memorize the different positions, breathing and the mantras. An excellent method of quickly mastering the exercise is for a friend to read you the instructions while you accordingly carry them out. In this way all the important aspects of the exercise will be clearly imprinted in your memory.

Benefits

The obvious characteristic of surya namaskara is the fact that it exercises the entire body. The back is bent forwards and backwards, the arms and legs are bent and straightened, the abdomen is compressed, stretched and so on. It is an integral exercise that influences the health of the whole body. It is not confined to developing one part of the body, such as the arm muscles, like so many other forms of exercises and gymnastics. The body consists of various systems and organs which interrelate and coordinate with each other to give the best possible health and efficiency. It is very easy for these systems to become disrupted. The result is disease and lack of vitality etc. Surya namaskara brings these systems – the circulatory, respiratory, endocrinal, etc. – into balance with one another, thereby helping to prevent and remove disease.

Let us briefly discuss some of the main systems in the body and how they benefit from surya namaskara.

Digestive system

The abdominal organs and stomach are alternately stretched and compressed. This imparts a healthy massage to the internal organs and ensures that they function correctly, or if they don’t currently work efficiently, encourages them to do so. Many diseases of the digestive system can be prevented and removed by the regular practice of surya namaskara.

Eliminative system

Rapid elimination of waste materials from the body is essential. Often undigested waste products remain in the intestines and bowels due to constipation, which can result in various other disorders. Surya namaskara stimulates the peristalsis of the intestines helping to remove any tendency towards constipation. The kidneys are also important eliminative organs. They filter impurities from the blood and eliminate them from the body in the form of urine. Therefore, any disorder or inefficiency in the workings of the kidneys will result in impure blood. Surya namaskara gently massages these two organs, increases their supply of blood, as well as speeds up the circulation throughout the body. The result is that the kidneys are encouraged to function properly while at the same time the blood is given an additional flush and filter through the kidneys.

For best results one should supplement the daily practice of surya namaskara by drinking plenty of clean, fresh water. A high proportion of the body’s waste products are eliminated through the skin. This process works particularly well when a person sweats profusely. Often toxins accumulate in the skin, manifesting as boils and pimples. If a good sweat was developed regularly there would be less tendency for this to happen as the toxins would reach the outer surface of the skin and be washed off.

Surya namaskara results in increased perspiration and thereby encourages the elimination of toxins from the body, helping to prevent skin ailments. This will purify the heart and mind. Surya namaskara also helps to bring the flow of pranic or bioplasmic energy into balance and remove blockages in the nadis through which it flows. Surya namaskara is an excellent practice with which to start the day. It helps to prepare you in every way to face the oncoming day with physical and mental strength and confidence.

Summary

Surya namaskara is a panacea for those people who live in cities and towns and who find insufficient time and opportunity to take adequate exercise. People in the country automatically exercise their bodies and relax their minds, as well as feel an intimate relationship with everything around them. It is urban people who suffer from the majority of diseases. The main reason is lack of exercise and peace of mind. Surya namaskara is the answer, especially if done in conjunction with other yogic techniques.

There is no reason why most people cannot practice it daily. It only takes a matter often minutes or so. During this short period of time the body is exercised in the most systematic and comprehensive manner possible. There is no other exercise that can surpass it. Running, walking and swimming are all excellent exercises no doubt, but they don’t exercise the body as effectively as surya namaskara in the time available. So needless to say we highly recommend that you practice surya namaskara. In fact, we regard surya namaskara so highly that we will recommend that you practice it in your daily practice program from now on.