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The Sanskrit word for surya means ‘sun’ and namaskara translates to ‘salutation.’ Therefore the practice of surya namaskara is commonly known as ‘salutation to the sun.’

In many cultures, light has long been a symbol of consciousness and self-illumination. Our primary source of light is, of course, the sun. Evolved sages derived a sequence thousands of years ago to worship the sun. This practice has been handed down as a daily ritual to connect with the sun’s divine qualities of power, dynamism and luminosity.

Surya namaskara is a series of twelve physical postures. These alternating backward and forward bending postures bend and flex the spinal column through it’s maximum range, giving a profound stretch to the whole body. It is a powerful sequence, which also massages the internal organs and stimulates all the body systems, especially the reproductive, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems.

The transition from posture to posture is facilitated with a specific breathing pattern. The inhalation is used to lift, open and extend, the exhalation to fold forward, soften and release.

One round of Surya namaskara consists of two sequences, the first leading with the right foot in positions 4 and 9, the second leading with the left. Keep the hands in one place from positions 3 to 10 and co-ordinate the movements with the breath.

Once familiarized with the physical postures and breathing technique, one can deepen the practice by focusing on different aspects. Each posture relates to a specific trigger point and psychic centre within the body. Concentration on these locations develops a more subtle inner awareness. Specialised mantras associated with each position may also be used. These mantras are a combination of syllables and sounds, and through their vibration have a powerful effect on the body and mind.

Surya Namaskara can be paced briskly to generate heat and charge the entire system, or at a more moderate speed to induce a deeper spiritual awareness and create a moving meditation.

Surya Namaskara is to be followed by Corpse Pose (Shavasana). This relaxation period is very important as it allows the body time to adjust and absorb the benefits of the practice.

Surya Namaskara activates all the muscles, lubricates the joints and stimulates the various systems. The relaxation period following the practice returns the body to a balanced, harmonious state, full of energy and vitality.

In the Satyananda tradition there are two versions of Surya Namaskara. The first is the modified version, where neither of the asanas are taken to their fullest stretch. This is extremely nurturing and makes for a brilliant warm up practice.

As with all yoga practices it’s important to always listen to the body, honour it’s needs and practice safely. Discontinue Surya namaskara immediately if any discomfort or sickness is felt. It is not recommended for people with high blood pressure, coronary artery diseases, hernia or by those who have had a stroke. Consulting with an experienced yoga teacher or a medical expert is advised for people with back conditions, as these may be better managed through an alternative asana program.

Positions 13 – 24
This completes half a round. In the second half, the positions are repeated practicing to the left side. This changes the equestrian pose. In position 16, instead of stretching the right foot back, stretch the left foot back and in position 21, instead of bringing the left foot between the hands first, bring the right foot between the hands first.

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Position 12 – Exhale

Prayer PosePosition 12 - Satya Live Yoga

Pranamasana

  • Join the palms together above the head.
  • Bend the elbows and bring the hands down to rest in front of the sternum.

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Position 11 – Inhale

Raised arms pose

Hasta Utthanasana

  • Take the hands to the hips.
  • Align the spine and neck.
  • Keep the knees bent, rotate from the hips, engage the core muscles and raise the head and torso upright.
  • Stretch the arms to the ceiling, hands shoulder width apart.
  • Extend and lengthen the spine, torso, head and arms upward.

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Position 10 – Exhale

Hand to foot pose

Padahastanana

  • Bring the right foot forward next to the left foot.
  • Bend the knees as much as required so that the abdomen comes in contact with the thighs.
  • Lower the forehead towards the shins.

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Position 9 – Inhale

Equestrian Pose

Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  • Lower both knees to the floor.
  • Step the left foot between the hands and adjust the position so that the left shin is at a 90 degree angle with the floor.
  • Press the pelvis down and lengthen the spine.
  • Draw the shoulder blades together slightly to open in the chest.
  • Keep the head in line with the spine and direct the gaze ahead.

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Position 8 – Retain out

Mountain pose

Parvatasana

  • Raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms so that the body forms a triangle.
  • Lift the tail bone up, lengthen and straighten the arms and spine.
  • Keep the knees soft and relax the heels towards the floor.

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Position 7 – Exhale

Cat Stretch Pose
Marjariasana

  • Lower the head, arch the back, take the belly button toward the spine and tuck the tail bone under.
  • Contract the abdomen releasing all the oxygen.

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Position 6 – Inhale

Cat Stretch Pose
Marjariasana

  • Lower the knees to the floor.
  • Raise the head, open the chest, lower the spine and lift the tail bone.
  • Expand the abdomen, fill the lungs and stretch the whole front body.

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Position 5 – Exhale

Mountain pose

Parvatasana

  • Lower the palms to the floor.
  • Keep the right foot still and step the left foot back to beside the right.
  • Simultaneously, raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms so that the body forms a triangle.
  • Lift the tail bone upwards, lengthen and straighten the arms and spine.
  • Keep the knees soft and relax the heels towards the floor.

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Position 4 – Inhale

Equestrian Pose

Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  • Extend the right leg back and lower the knee to the floor.
  • Keep the left foot between the hands, ensure the left shin is at a 90 degree angle with the floor.
  • Press the pelvis down and lengthen the spine.
  • Draw the shoulder blades together slightly to open the chest.
  • Keep the head in line with the spine and direct the gaze ahead.

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Position 3 – Exhale

Hand to foot pose

Padahastanana

  • Take the hands to the hips.
  • Keep the back and head aligned whist folding forward from the hips.
  • Bend the knees as much as required to bring the abdomen in contact with the thighs.
  • Lower the head towards the shins and place the hands to the floor either side of the feet.

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Position 2 – Inhale

Raised arms pose

Hasta Utthanasana

  • Raise the arms, separate the palms and position the hands forward, shoulder width apart.
  • Extend and lengthen the spine, torso, head and arms upwards.

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Position 1 – Exhale

Prayer PosePosition 1 - Satya Live Yoga

Pranamasana

  • Stand with the feet together at the front of your space.
  • Bend the elbows and join the palms in front of the sternum.

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