Questions Answered Here
- In addition to physically warming the body, what opportunity does Surya Namaskarprovide?
- What are some specific ways to bring a devotional quality to practice?
- Describe how to incorporate a gratitude practice with Surya Namaskar and Vinyasa Yoga.
- Provide examples of ways to use intention, dedications and affirmations with Surya Namaskarand Vinyasa Yoga.
- What is ayoga mala?
- What is the significance of the number 108?
Introduction & Inspiration
In addition to physically warming the body, Surya Namaskar and Vinyasa Yoga (as with any practice) can be approached with devotion, as tools that can be used beyond a physical pursuit.
Here we support you in exploring such practices as the following.
- Focusing on breath as the source of movement can provide a pathway for deepening the experience.
- Surya Namaskarcan be used as “a gateway to entering your subtle body.”
- Specific practices such as invoking gratitude, inspiring visualization or mentally reciting affirmations can bring a devotional quality to the practice.
Devotion, Respect, Prayer
See Namaste / Namaskar for translations that show a much deeper meaning than “greeting.” In the case of “Surya Namaskar,” it is pointing to an embodied experience of genuine offering, a form of deeply devoted, mutual respect.
- When practicing the physical expression of Surya Namaskar, we may wish to offer a whole body prayer to the light supporting us all (the sun) as a direct reflection of the divine light that resides within.
- There is an opportunity to unite the microcosm of the inner body with the macrocosm of the entire universe through the vehicle of the breath.
- As Shiva Rea describes with poetic clarity, “’Namaskar’ means ‘to bow,’ to recognize with your whole being. Reaching up, bowing forward to the earth in prostration—the meaning is inherent in the movement. Eventually, you are going to have an ecstatic experience of the life force entering your body.”
Bhava: Cultivating a Feeling of Wholeness
The idea is to cultivate the bhava state, this feeling in your heart of wholeness. The sun gives us circulation, growth, and evolution. Embody the qualities of the sun, such as the feelings of radiance, vitality, humble confidence, luminosity, vision, clarity, empowerment, and fearlessness. Or it can be an emotion, such as compassion or tenderness, that is mounting for you in that moment. You decide. When people are under stress, if they focus on gratitude, you can see their brainwaves and heart rhythms come into a syncopated state pretty quickly. That’s all part of bhava, circulating the healing inside of you through your heart, which you can do through movement. – Shiva Rea
Identify Breath as the Source of Movement
Find the rhythm in your breath and allow your body to respond to it. Feel the inhales lift the body into the Upward Dog and the exhales propel the body into Downward Dog. Identify breath as the source of movement and the very core of our existence. Ride it as you would a wave in the ocean or respond to it the way your body responds to music… Feel the air move across your body as you move through space. Be free. Be light. Be joyful in the experience and expression of your personal practice. – David Swenson
The Spiritual Dimension
Like other classic yoga asanas, the sun salutation is a gateway to entering your subtle body, tapping into your healing power, gaining vitality, and accelerating the process of rejuvenation. To derive all these benefits, however, you must take the practice beyond stretching. The spiritual dimension of surya namaskara is much more profound and fulfilling than the physical level of practice alone. When both the physical and spiritual aspects are strung together, the practice becomes Sutra Yoga—the kind of practice intended by masters like Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutra. A Sutra Yoga style of the sun salutation strings together (sutra) body, breath, mind, and soul with the healing and nurturing forces of the sun, and infuses life with serenity and inner awakening. In this way, the sun salutation becomes a complete practice of yoga, meditation, and spirituality. – Pandit Rajmani Tigunait