Suryanamaskara: Saluting the Sun

by Jeff Martens

The physical source of all energy on the earth comes from the sun.  Light energy from the sun becomes stored energy in plants, algae and simple organisms which are then consumed by beings further along the food chain.  The sun also provides the warmth and light necessary to live our daily lives.

In Sanskrit, Surya signifies the Sun from the root Su meaning to press out, implying a radiant force that is constantly releasing energy.  Namaskara is a greeting or salutation in the spirit of utmost respect and honor.  Translated as I bow to you, Namaskara can be broken down into Na=Not + ma = mine + kara = to do (from kri = to act).  Namaskara, then, is a wonderful greeting acknowledging anothers’ identity while at the same time surrendering the ego and its sense of possession.

As a traditional foundation of a yogasana practice, Suryanamaskara was practiced at the sun’s rising to greet the new day and honor the light within and without.  It is a flowing practice that builds heat, purifies glands and organs, cleanses the skin and aligns the spine, opening the entire system to healing, radiant energy.

To breathe and move at the same time requires us to be fully present.  When we link breath and motion, we use all of our resources to serve moving into a state of deep concentration or dhyana.  Since the mind can only focus on one thing ata time, by focusing on the present moment we automatically let go of past identifications, problems and judgments which require our constant attention to  remain a force in our lives   Surya Namaskara acknowledges the light of presence that is free of all problems and lives within and all around us.  This light belongs to all and yet cannot be possessed.  Practiced with devotion and a pure heart, Sun Salutations become a selfless moving prayer merging into meditation, transcending the physical actions of breath and muscular motion.

Jeff Martens is a teacher, writer and co-owner of Inner Vision Yoga.  All suggestions are voluntary.  Consult a qualified teacher or your physician before you embark on any practice in which you are unfamiliar.