Everyone knows about the Surya-namaskar sequence. This is a Yog-Asan, yogic posture which we all should perform everyday from the age of 6yrs onwards regularly. It is the right of every human to be healthy and this Yogasan is the foundation of your life-time health. Here I list out things which will add energy to your practice.
Use the power of the rising Sun. Do your Surya-namaskar in the early morning, facing the east. Looking at the rising sun is ideal. If your house has a balcony do it there, where fresh air can touch your body. Or in a park? Or at least open the windows of your room so that fresh air can touch your body/mind. Now we live in cities so seeing the rising sun may not be possible. So on the East wall of your room, put a nice photo of the rising Sun, your favourite deity, source of faith, Shri yantra? or at least paint that wall in light yellowish-orangish, the color of the radiant rising Sun. This will give your mind an object to concentrate on. Gradually will give you the ability to silence the mind’s continuous chattering and increase your mental strength/ability.
You will need a flat horizontal non slippery surface. A cotton mat is traditionally used, but you should use whatever you are comfortable with. Wear minimum possible cotton clothing. Ensure that the clothes do not interfere with the body’s freedom of movement. Do not eat, empty stomach is necessary.
A set of 10 yogic postures = 1 Suryanamaskar. Start with 3 sets daily and increase 1 set per week. Maximum is 108 sets, do not increase beyond that. Doing 108 sets will take about 1hr 15 mins which is not realistic in today’s life. So fix some figure in your mind, as a maximum of 27 or 54, but do it everyday.
This is a complete physical exercise, a spiritual exercise and a pranic exercise. You strengthen your entire body from the head to the feet and the tips of your fingers. You improve your sensory organs. You make all the fluids in your body move. You will increase the volume, quality and regular flow of pran in your nadis. And finally you strengthen your mind and will power.
You are doing 3 things here.
- Exercising your physical body in a series of 10 interconnected yogic postures. You are using the muscles of your entire body. As the muscles work effectively they positively influence the other organs near them. So muscular health is essential for complete body health.
- Exercising your pran/vital energy movements in your naadi strucutre by a fixed sequence of breath in and breath out sequence. Each of the 10 postures is linked to either exhale or inhale, and the entire sequence goes fluidly. Simple logic is when you extend the body you inhale and when you contract the body you exhale. Always breathe through your nose, never open the mouth. First focus on getting the muscular movement perfectly, the breath will automatically sync later. The sync comes slowly with practice. (Ideally the 10 postures of the Surya namaskar are performed in 3 complete breaths!)
- Adding the power of Surya mantra to all this. There are a set of 10 mantra-s, one for each yogic posture in the sequence. This is the real power of the Yog-asan. Breathing without a mantra makes the whole thing tamasic. You will get excellent physical body but no spiritual benefit. Something like musclebound gym-crazy young men who do not ‘sparkle’ with ‘inner light’. You should add the mantras to the postures after you have got the muscle movement and the breath sync. Maybe after 1-2 months.
I searched the internet videos for the correct version of the Surya namaskar, it is this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tt9eeXo5YPk From 4:41 sec to 5:25 sec is the ideal Suryanamaskar sequence of the 10 postures. Except that there is no requirement to hold the ‘downward dog’ position for 5 deep breaths as he mentions. The entire Suryanamaskar continues in a fluid sequence of 10 postures, no ‘holding’ any pose. In the video the young man is in superb physical condition and is a teacher himself so don’t feel disheartened!
You are exercising for yourself and not competing with the young man in the video. I have seen people get enthusiastic about exercise and then in a few days they get demotivated and never exercise again. The fault is with the trainers.
- Always remember, exercise should be in proportion to one’s own strength.
- It should be regular and continuous to be of benefit. You do only 3 sets per day, but do them. They will not be perfect, it is ok.
- Exercise should be within your physical limit, ie after doing it you should feel refreshed and energetic not tired out. If you are feeling tired, reduce the intensity or the duration.
- Don’t compare yourself to your younger self. (I used to go to the gym for 2 hrs everyday in my 20s. At the age of 29yrs I looked like a 17yrs old often confusing people. Now I can’t do that much exercise. Accepted!)
- You are not perfect in your practice now, but you are doing it regularly that is most important.
- At the beginning of this ‘body/mind reconstruction exercise’, there is bound to be some discouragement and pain as unused muscles are forced to move. But this has to be gone through.
So practice slowly at your own pace, regularly, don’t get lazy after all this, it is just for 5 mins! Suryanamaskar are done quite slowly at first. First you have to get the physical movements correct. When you practice slowly, you will know which part of your body is under strain. When you change posture which bones creak. And slow movements will help this straining creaking body parts gradually build strength. You are doing this for yourself.
Then the mind. While doing the sets, do not let your mind wander. Your mind as well as body need discipline. You have to focus on the Sun and on your own body. Look at the Sun with your eyes. Intend that the energy of the Sun enters your body parts which are moving. We want increased pran moving in the body, this is possible only by the power of the focussed mind. As you breathe in visualise gold/silver energy entering you, energising you, making you one with the Sun. This is also an exercise for the mind.
Now the mantra. Before beginning your practice you are required to recite this out loud, ‘Om Hraang Hreeng Hroung sah Suryaya namah”. Or as the second option, “Om Mitra Ravi Surya Bhanu Khaga Pushna Hiranyagarbha Marich Aditya Bhaskarya namah Om”. Speaking aloud, voice is very important. When you speak these words you are exercising your vocal cords and setting the tone for your entire exercise. Breathe deeply a few times. This you can do from the first day itself.
Then these ten basic mantra are to be recited in your mind, once per posture, these are,
- Om Mitraya namah
- Om Ravaye namah
- Om Suryaya namah
- Om Bhanave namah
- Om Khagaya namah
- Om Pushnaye namah
- Om Hiranyagarbhaya namah
- Om Marichaye namah
- Om Adityaya namah
- Om Bhaskarya namah
Add these mantras to your posture and breath only after you have gained confidence, maybe 1-2 months later. Don’t complicate things for yourself at the start. If you have no faith in Sanskrit and Mantra, do not recite them. But a Yog-asan done without a mantra remains tamasic, it gives only physical strength no inner fire. So you will have to at least intentionally recite So-ham. ‘So’ mentally as you breathe in and ‘hum’ mentally as you breathe out. So-ham is also a mantra.
So start in whatever slow imperfect way you can, it will take only 5 mins of your time initially. Evaluate yourself after 21days. After this self-motivation will come in. And in a few months you won’t believe the change this will bring in you. Perfection comes with regular practice. (If you are already physically damaged or ill, do consult your healthcare professional before doing them. These are quite strenuous and vigorous movements.)
Now for women. Women must perform Surya namaskar. In Indian cities, you see young women in severely unhealthy states. If the woman is physically/ mentally /spiritually ill, the entire house suffers. She is the centre around which our families and our societies both revolve. If she is healthy the nation will be healthy. Surya namaskar is the ideal three-in-one way to remain forever fit. Women go through two physically challenging events in their lives, one at the age of 12yrs as the monthly cycle starts and then at the age of 51yrs when it stops. Also the monthly 5day cycle is physically exhausting. As the girl-child starts Surya-namaskar at the age of 6yrs and continues for a life-time she will never face any problems related to this aspect of the female life ever. It is a guarantee.
Women are exempted for the 5 days of their monthly cycle, they should rest. During pregnancy the practice has to be stopped. But she should not break her habit of standing before the rising Sun. Mantra-s can be recited. Some light warm-up stretching types of movements recommended for pregnant women can be done. After delivery do not perform Surya-namaskars for 3 months. After this, if the medical professional agrees, can start with 3 sets and gradually increase.
Suryanamaskar are the complete exercise for your mind body and soul. You will discipline your body, your breath and your mind over time. Give yourself these 5-10 mins daily and see the change in yourself as you draw in the energy of the Rising Sun into yourself.