Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is one of the most popular yogic exercise that practiced around the world. Surya Namaskar is slightly different from other yogic exercises because it consists of 12 postures accompanied by mantras. The word ‘Surya Namaskar’ means to ‘bow’ or ‘adore’ the Sun. Surya Namaskar can practice as a spiritual exercise and physical exercise at the same time. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar will help you to improve your Mental, Spiritual and Physical health.
Origin of Surya Namaskar
There are many theories and stories related to the origin of Surya Namaskar. But no one was able to traces its actual origin. Let’s look into the mythical and historical theories related to Surya Namaskar.
Origin of Surya Namaskar in Hindu Myth
According to Hindu belief it is said that Hanuman, the monkey hero in epic Ramayana was the one who created Surya Namaskar. The legend goes like this:
When Hanuman needed an education his mother Anjana suggested him to be the student of Surya, the sun god in Hinduism. So, Hanuman requested Surya to be his teacher. But what Surya was told him that he has no spare time at all and he must keep moving all the time, and he asked Hanuman “how can you learn if I am moving?” But Hanuman was not ready to give up, he asked Surya “what if I move with you? Will you accept me as your student?” Surya get impressed with his reply and accept him as his disciple.
Hanuman positioned himself facing Surya and Surya, started to move. Hanuman always move backward because it was said that you shouldn’t turn your back on you teacher. Hanuman was a fast learner. Surya was very proud of hanuman’s dedication. When he completed his studies, he asked Surya what he return as a fee for his training. But for Surya was declined any payment from Hanuman because of impressed with his dedication.
But hanuman offered his gratitude and he created Surya Namaskar as a guru dakshina.
Historic Origin of Surya Namaskar
There is some disagreement about the origin of Surya Namaskar. Some says that Surya Namaskar was originated in Vedic period date backs 2,500 years ago. During that period people are worship sun for prosperity. Therefore, Surya Namaskar may create as a ritual to worship the Sun.
Others says that Surya Namaskar was invented by the raja of Aundh in the early 20th century and spread to west in 1920s or 1930s. In the 1920s Surya Namaskar was popularized by Bhavanarao Pant Pratinidhi and in 1928 he wrote a book about it called Surya Namaskar for Health, Efficiency and Longevity. In 1938, he wrote another book called The Ten-Point Way to Health in which the Surya Namaskar was illustrated with little difference in movements.
Theories may be varying but one thing is accepted by everyone, Surya Namaskar is a great exercise that help us to maintain our health and wellbeing.
How to do Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar mainly consist of 2 elements which are
Mantra (Sacred sound or word)
The following video will help you to learn Sun salutation
Spiritual aspects of Surya Namaskar
From the above table we can understand the spiritual benefits we gain by practicing Surya Namaskar. Chanting of Mantras invokes the spiritual power into the practitioner. Doing Asanas helps the practitioner to activate the energy centers in the body. Therefore, practice Surya Namaskar regularly will help you in your spiritual path.
Surya Namaskar as an exercise
Practice Surya Namaskar as a part of your fitness training will bring many health benefits. Usually Surya Namaskar practiced in early morning in an open space. As everyone knows getting early morning sun’s rays are very good for health. If you practice Surya Namaskar in a fast manner it acts as an aerobic exercise for the body and the asanas will help you to maintain a flexible body. There are many other health benefits includes improve skin glow, maintain proper cholesterol level, improve metabolism, helps to weight loss etc.