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  • Writer's pictureAsha Venkatarao

Surya Namaskara - Brief history, Beeja Mantras, Deeper Meaning

Surya Namaskara, also known as Sun Salutation, is a sequence of yoga postures performed in a flowing manner. It's a traditional practice that dates back centuries in India, deeply rooted in Hinduism and Yoga philosophy.

While the exact historical origins of Surya Namaskara are not precisely documented, it has been practiced for generations as a form of reverence to the sun, which is considered a symbol of health, vitality, and spiritual consciousness in many cultures, particularly in ancient India.

The earliest textual reference to a similar practice can be found in the Rigveda, one of the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, dating back to around 1500–1200 BCE.

The Rigveda contains hymns dedicated to the Sun God, Surya, emphasizing its significance in various aspects of life, including physical and spiritual well-being.

Over time, the practice of Surya Namaskara evolved, with different schools of yoga incorporating it into their teachings. It gained popularity in the modern era due to the efforts of yoga masters like Swami Sivananda and T. Krishnamacharya, who played significant roles in popularizing yoga worldwide.

Surya Namaskara consists of a sequence of twelve yoga postures, each synchronized with the breath, and is often practiced at sunrise, facing the sun, although it can be done at any time of the day.

The postures are designed to stretch and strengthen various muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall physical and mental well-being.

Beyond its physical benefits, Surya Namaskara holds symbolic and spiritual significance for many practitioners. Each posture is associated with specific mantras and intentions, fostering a sense of gratitude, connection with nature, and spiritual awakening.

Today, Surya Namaskara is widely practiced as a standalone yoga routine or as part of broader yoga sessions in studios, gyms, and homes around the world. It continues to be revered not only for its physical benefits but also for its potential to cultivate mindfulness, inner peace, and spiritual growth.

Now, let's focus on the deeper understanding of the Beeja Mantras associated with the 12 postures of Surya Namaskara, each accompanied by a specific breathing pattern that corresponds to a particular aspect of the sun or cosmic energy.

Here's a breakdown of the twelve postures and their associated mantras:

  1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose):

  • Posture: Stand at the front of your mat with feet together, palms in front of the chest in prayer position.

  • Mantra: "Om Mitraya Namaha" - Salutations to the friend of all.

  1. Urdhva Hastasana (Raised Arms Pose):

  • Posture: Inhale, raise the arms upward, arching back slightly, keeping the gaze upward.

  • Mantra: "Om Ravaye Namaha" - Salutations to the shining one.

  1. Uttanasana (Hand to Foot Pose):

  • Posture: Exhale, bend forward from the waist, bringing the hands to the floor beside the feet.

  • Mantra: "Om Suryaya Namaha" - Salutations to he who induces activity.

  1. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose):

  • Posture: Inhale, step the right leg back into a lunge, keeping the left knee bent, chest lifted, and gaze forward.

  • Mantra: "Om Bhanave Namaha" - Salutations to the bestower of light.

  1. Uttitha Dandasana (Plank Pose):

  • Posture: Inhale, bring the left leg back, aligning the body in a straight line, arms perpendicular to the floor.

  • Mantra: "Om Khagaya Namaha" - Salutations to he who moves through the sky.

  1. Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with Eight Parts or Points):

  • Posture: Exhale, lower the knees, chest, and chin to the floor, keeping the hips elevated and the elbows close to the body.

  • Mantra: "Om Pushne Namaha" - Salutations to the nourisher.

  1. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose):

  • Posture: Inhale, slide forward, lifting the chest and gaze upward, keeping the hands below the shoulders.

  • Mantra: "Om Hiranyagarbhaya Namaha" - Salutations to the golden cosmic self.

  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose):

  • Posture: Exhale, lift the hips upward and back, straightening the arms and legs, forming an inverted V shape.

  • Mantra: "Om Marichaye Namaha" - Salutations to the Lord of the dawn.

  1. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose):

  • Posture: Inhale, step the right foot forward between the hands, returning to the lunge position.

  • Mantra: "Om Adityaya Namaha" - Salutations to the son of Aditi, the cosmic divine mother.

  1. Uttanasana (Hand to Foot Pose):

  • Posture: Exhale, bring the left foot forward to meet the right foot, folding forward at the waist.

  • Mantra: "Om Savitre Namaha" - Salutations to the vivifying power.

  1. Urdhva Hastasana (Raised Arms Pose):

  • Posture: Inhale, rise up, sweeping the arms overhead, arching back slightly, gaze upward.

  • Mantra: "Om Arkaya Namaha" - Salutations to he who is fit to be praised.

  1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose):

  • Posture: Exhale, return to the standing position, bringing the hands together in prayer at the heart center.

  • Mantra: "Om Bhaskaraya Namaha" - Salutations to he who leads to enlightenment.

Each of these postures and accompanying mantras is believed to evoke specific qualities, energies, or aspects of the sun, contributing to the holistic benefits of Surya Namaskara practice.

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