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Sun powers all life on earth. And the sun has no religion. Its energy vibrates at innumerable frequencies manifesting in the physical as various food/prana for various living things like trees, leaves, animals, humans, etc.

Our sages understood the importance of the phenomenal force of the sun and thus gave us the Surya Namaskar, a salutation to the sun. In Surya Namaskar, one draws prana that is the sun’s energy through the five senses called the paanchindriyas. This is very useful in bringing about balance at the levels of the koshas: Annamaya (physical), Pranamaya (pranic), Manomaya (intellect), Vigyanmaya (intuitive) and Ananadmaya (complete bliss) — of an individual, thereby bringing about the sthirta and strength from the core to the periphery.

Surya Namaskar is a complete sadhna, spiritual practice, which comprises 12 asans. Starting with Surya Namaskar, the awareness should always be at the Manipoorak chakra (located at the navel), which is also the chakra of the sun’s energy. Traditionally, it is done only two times, that is when the sun rises and when it sets as at these two times when the pranic frequency of the sun is believed to be most conducive to a human being’s state of balance. The sages said that if someone performs Surya Namaskar at these two specific times, the circulation of blood helps the person attain a reddish glow like that of the rising or the setting sun.

Surya Naman or Pranamasana: 
Folding both hands and joining the palms at the level of anahad, the heart chakra, pay your salutation to the sun.

Hasta Utthanasana:
Inhaling, raise your arms above the head, parallel to each other. Bend the head, arms and torso backward.

Exhaling, bend forward, till your fingers or palms touch the floor on either side of the feet. Keeping the legs straight, try touching the knees with your forehead. Do not strain. Note: People with back problems should exercise care.

Ashwa Sanchalanasana:
Maintaining the position of palms and the left foot, inhale and lunge the left knee forward and stretch the right leg as far behind as possible. Keep the arms straight, such that the entire body weight is supported on hands, the left foot, right knee and toes of the right foot. Tilt your head backwards, arch your back and perform shambhavi mudra (both pupils looking at the centrepoint of your brows)

Now, gently take left foot behind, beside the right foot, while exhaling. Simultaneously, raise your hips. Bring your head between the arms so that the body forms a triangle. Keep both your arms and legs straight in the final position, with your heels placed firmly on the ground and spine straight.

Ashtanga Namaskara:
From parvatasana, gently use your shoulders and dip the chest and chin to the floor, while keeping the knees, hips and abdomen above the ground. Heels are off the floor. If this is not possible, first lower the knees, then the chest, and finally the chin. The buttocks, hips and abdomen should be raised.

Maintaining the position of hands, bring the abdomen, hips and knees on the floor and let the feet be in sleeping position. Inhaling, raise your forehead, neck, shoulders, upper and middle back (in that order) such that the navel rests on the ground. Tilt the head backward such that the chin is pointing forward. The elbows are raised slightly off the ground and held close to the waist. People suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis or hyperthyroidism must not practice this unmonitored.

From here on, move backwards — from Bhujangasana to Parvatasana, Ashwa Sanchalanasana, Padahastasana, Hasta Utthanasana and finally Pranamasana.

Word of caution: Surya Namaskar is not suitable for beginners as it requires great degree of poise, flexibility and strength in the body.

The article was published in The Tribune


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