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Surya Namaskār

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Sculpture depicting the 12 asanas of Surya Namasakara A in Terminal T3 at IGIA Airport, New Delhi, India, created by Nikhil Bhandari.[1]
Sun Salutation practised at a public yoga event.

Surya Namaskar (Sanskrit: सूर्यनमस्कार IPA: [suːrjə nəməskaːrə]; IAST: Sūrya Namaskāra), Salute to the Sun or Sun Salutation, is a practice in modern yoga incorporating a sequence of gracefully linked asanas.[2][3] The nomenclature refers to the symbolism of the sun as the soul and source of all life.[4]



Patinidhi Pant, the Rajah of Aundh, (1868–1951; in office 1909-1947) was closely involved in popularizing the practice,[5][6] and gave it the name Surya Namaskār.[7] The yoga researcher Mark Singleton states that the Rajah may well have invented the practice, despite the Rajah's explicit claims that it was already a commonplace Marathi tradition, not his invention.[8][9] Singleton adds that there is no explicit textual evidence that Sūrya Namaskār was practiced prior to the early 20th century.[10] The Rajah of Aundh unquestionably helped to popularize Surya Namaskār as a simple physical exercise, introducing it into schools and encouraging ordinary men to be physically fit by performing it every day.[9][11][12]

Norman Sjoman notes that a "very old" set of exercises based on postures called dands (Sanskrit: दण्ड daṇḍā, a staff) was used by Indian wrestlers and was "probably the core of indigenous Indian exercise."[13] These dand exercises were described in the 1896 Vyayama Dipika,[14] and they closely resemble Surya Namaskar along with asanas it commonly contains, namely Tadasana, Padahastasana, Caturangadandasana, and Bhujangasana.[13] Sjoman states that Tirumalai Krishnamacharya seems to have used these as the basis for his yoga vinyasas.[13]

Some scholars have attempt to attribute modern Surya Namaskar practice to a student of Krishnamacharya, the yoga teacher K. Pattabhi Jois,[15] who created modern day Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga which uses a flowing sun salutation, and has led to other styles of Vinyasa (flowing) yoga.[16] However, Krishnamacharya was aware of Surya Namaskar, as regular classes, not considered to be yoga, were held in the hall adjacent to his Yogasala in the Rajah of Mysore's palace; he most likely derived the use of a flowing Vinyasa style from Surya Namaskar, passing that on to Jois and other teachers including B. K. S. Iyengar, whose yoga includes it in a more restrained form.[17]

Other referencesEdit

Indian Navy personnel perform Surya Namaskar on board INS Sunayna on International Yoga Day 2015.

Early English publications record some ancient methods of sun salutation; however, they do not seem to be related to the modern Sūrya Namaskāra as seen in Yoga practice today. It is widely believed in the state of Maharashtra that Shivaji Maharaj, Sage Samarth Ramdas and the Marathas have performed Sūrya Namaskāra as a physical exercise to develop able bodies.[18]

Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms pose)

Aditya Hridayam is another ancient practice which involves saluting the sun, taught to Rama by Sage Agastya, before his fight with Ravana. It is described in the "Yuddha Kaanda" Canto 107 of the Ramayana.[19][20][21]


The following lists a typical Surya Namaskar cycle, but many variations are possible.[3]

Asana (position) Photo Breathing Chakra Bīja
1 Pranamasana   exhale Anahata Heart ॐ ह्रां om hrāṁ
2 Hasta Uttanasana   inhale Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रीं om hrīṁ
3 Uttanasana   exhale Swadhisthana Sacrum ॐ ह्रूं om hrūṁ
4 Ashwasanchalana (one foot back, lift head, hands often on earth )   inhale Ajna Third eye ॐ ह्रैं om hraiṁ
5 Adho Mukha Svanasana   exhale Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रौं om hrauṁ
6 Ashtanga Namaskara   suspend Manipura Solar plexus ॐ ह्रः om hraḥ
7 Bhujangasana   inhale Swadhisthana Sacrum ॐ ह्रां om hrāṁ
8 Adho Mukha Svanasana   exhale Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रीं om hrīṁ
9 Ashwa Sanchalanasana (opposite foot forward from 4, hands often on earth )   inhale Ajna Third eye ॐ ह्रूं om hrūṁ
10 Uttanasana   exhale Swadhisthana Sacrum ॐ ह्रैं om hraiṁ
11 Hasta Uttanasana   inhale Vishuddhi Throat ॐ ह्रौं om hrauṁ
12 Pranamasana   exhale Anahata Heart ॐ ह्रः om hraḥ

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Indian Express (4 September 2010). Destination Delhi.
  2. ^ Carol Mitchell (2003). Yoga on the Ball. Inner Traditions. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-89281-999-7.
  3. ^ a b Jane MacMullen (1988). Yoga Journal: Ashtanga Yoga. September/October. Active Interest. pp. 68–70.
  4. ^ Krishan Kumar Suman (2006). Yoga for Health and Relaxation. Lotus. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-81-8382-049-3.
  5. ^ Mark Singleton (2010). Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice. Oxford University Press. pp. 180–181, 205–206. ISBN 978-0-19-974598-2.
  6. ^ S. P. Sen, Dictionary of National Biography; Institute of Historical Studies, Calcutta 1972 Vols. 1-4; Institute of Historical Studies, Vol 3, page 307
  7. ^ Alter 2000, p. 99.
  8. ^ Mark Singleton (2010), Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-539534-1, page 124
  9. ^ a b Royal India: A Descriptive and Historical Study of India's Fifteen Principal States and Their Rulers By Katherine H. Diver, Maud Diver, (year 1942)
  10. ^ Mark Singleton (2010), Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-539534-1, pages 180-181, 205-206
  11. ^ Joseph S. Alter, Yoga in Modern India: the body between science and philosophy, Princeton University Press (year 2004)
  12. ^ Joseph S. Alter, Gandhi's Body: Sex, Diet, and the Politics of Nationalism, (year 2000)
  13. ^ a b c Sjoman 1999, p. 54.
  14. ^ Bharadwaj, S. (1896). Vyayama Dipika | Elements of Gymnastic Exercises, Indian System. Bangalore: Caxton Press. pp. Chapter 2.
  15. ^ Donahaye, Guy (2010). Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K Pattabhi Jois Through The Eyes of His Students. USA: D&M Publishers. ISBN 978-0-86547-749-0.
  16. ^ Ramaswami 2005, pp. 213-219.
  17. ^ Singleton 2010, p. 175-210.
  18. ^ Mujumdar 1950.
  19. ^ Master Murugan, Chillayah (20 October 2012). "Surya Namaskara -Puranic origins of Valmiki Ramayana". Silambam. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2013.[not in citation given]
  20. ^, Aditya Hrudayam with English translation
  21. ^ Translation of Ramayana by Griffith


External linksEdit