The Sun Salutation

The Sun Salutation is called “Surya Namaskar” in Sanskrit. It is a prayer practiced as a sign of gratitude to the sun god named Surya, but also to thank the spiritual light that we all have within each of us. We are therefore far from the popular vision of a simple sequence of postures.

However, no writing or source really specifies the date of creation or even the composition of the very first Sun Salutation. For purists, it cannot therefore be considered as yoga due to its non-existence in the ancient texts which founded yoga. According to many yoga masters, it is inspired by a practice dating back several thousand years, when ancient Indians engaged daily in rituals combining chanting of mantras and prostrations before the Sun god.

The origin of the Salutation to the Sun is therefore recent, and is notably due to the modernization of yoga and its arrival in the West. Today it's a warm-up goal before bodybuilding practice. We are therefore a long way from the daily gesture of gratitude towards the sun god.

But it is notably under the influence of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and his master Krishnamacharya, both creators of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, as the famous Sun Salutation that we know today became popular, and only in the 1960s. These two great figures of yoga are notably at the origin of the creation of two variants: Surya Namaskar A and B.

For Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the Sun Salutation embodies the cycle of life, from birth to death. Each posture making up the series has a particular symbolism and meaning, making Surya Namaskar much more than a simple physical conditioning sequence practiced .

From a general point of view, the Sun Salutation is a sequence of several yoga movements and positions, 6 to 8 on average. These postures, called Asanas, follow one another in a precise order and in a fluid manner, twice, in a cyclical manner: the starting posture will become the ending posture, and so on.

There are no strict rules regarding how to practice it. Nor even in the intention given to the practice.

You can practice the Sun Salutation every morning . But this is not a strict rule, you can enjoy the benefits at any time of the day whether it is the afternoon or the evening.

It can be done at the start of the session to warm up the body and prepare it for practice, particularly during Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga classes, which are faster and more intense.

It can be practiced alone in a more or less dynamic way, like a session in its own right, by doing it several times continuously.

The Sun Salutation can even serve as a guideline during an entire session, where other postures will fit together to form a balanced and harmonious sequence.

It can be practiced slowly by breaking down the movements and holding each posture for a certain time. For some, the Sun Salutation even goes so far as to constitute an exercise in meditation.

The benefits on the body:

  • Provides flexibility and mobility
  • Strengthens muscles
  • Improves posture and balance
  • Improves breathing and oxygenation of the body
  • Guarantees better blood and lymphatic circulation
  • Supports optimal functioning of the immune and endocrine systems
  • Strengthens the digestive system and helps with weight loss

The benefits for the mind:

  • Reduces stress, anxiety and helps with depression
  • Improves sleep and fights insomnia
  • Improves concentration and memory
  • Helps you gain self-confidence

You now know everything (or almost) about this famous sequence of postures which wakes up thousands of yogis on earth every morning. If you would like to know more, and in particular to know the details of the postures that make up the Sun Salutation, take part in our Yoga challenge here !!

In the meantime we wish you a great practice, Namasté!

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