Surya Namaskar; the sun salutation is a vital technique within the repertoire of yogic practice and has been practiced for thousands of years. The sun rises and falls around us every day, is friend to all, brings light to all and has existed since before any human existence. The sun never says to us, unless you give me something I will not shine today. The sun never says to the earth, hey you owe me! The sun you see is friend to all, we should learn from the sun that allows us to grow, to nourish ourselves and to develop. Without the sun there is no life, no vital energy, no way to live a meaningful life.
By practicing Surya Namaskar we honor that force that brings our existence and when practiced with sincerity, effort and dedication, it brings a multitude of benefits into our lives.
This is a practice of self-expression, it is not merely an exercise to stretch our bodies, but is a way of connecting to the rhythms whole universe. To the 24 hours in a day, the 12 zodiac phases of the year and the rhythms of your own body which is part of the universe and the universe part of the body.
For me there are four forms to the sun salutation, that of the physical, the mental, the spiritual and the pranic. The physical aspect enables us to live dynamically; it improves circulation and flexibility, releases tensions in the body, provides lubrication around the joints and brings stimulation to every internal organ improving its function. It brings balance back to the body without which there would be no mental balance. Mentally it improves our focus and concentration levels, allows us to let go of mental stress, anxiety and irrelevant thoughts and enables us to live more joyfully. Surya Namaskar is a most powerful tool for the benefit of mental health, well being and allows us then to grow spiritually. Spiritually it allows us to sublimate our lower thoughts and emotions and turn to a higher level of thinking and awareness. To be able to unblock the blockages from within that no longer serve us, such as anger, fear, greed and selfishness and turn them to joy, love and peace. It enables us to connect with the Divine energy, to feel a greater sense of presence and be a part of that presence. In its Pranic form, it allows us to receive solar energy and in turn become that energy, becoming a ray of light; it has a direct vitalizing effect on the solar energies of the body. We can shine both inwardly and outwardly.
Through this beautiful practice we can awaken, unblock and stimulate our energy centers, but why practice 108? Actually we only practice this many rounds for certain occasions and a good time for this is around the time of the full moon. At this time sensitivities can be heightened, our emotions can be exaggerated, there is a greater field of energy around this time and it can enhance how we are feeling. This could mean a time of great joy and ecstasy, or on the other hand it could be a time where anger is increased, or depression etc. So we practice 108, to uplift the energy to a positive, to eradicate any lower feelings or release a build up of too much energy. 108 is a sacred number in Sanskrit and represents the number of Upanishads written, also representing the amount of beads on a string of Malas used for meditation. It represents all past, all present and all future. The number 1 can mean new beginnings, an eagerness to make new changes, to be ready to start to overcome our ignorance. 0 can represent emptying ourselves of what is unnecessary and concentrating on only what is true and necessary. 8 is that of infinite energy, that which never ends and never begins, that of the soul.
At the end of the day, actually it really doesn’t matter on how many salutations you complete, but it is your intention behind it that counts. It is a wonderful practice to refresh and detox the whole system, I personally love it, I love the sense of release I have after it and always it is a good time to make a new start or dedicate the positivity to somebody or a place that really needs it.
We will be practicing this coming Friday the 16th December @ 8.30am at Butabika Recovery College, Butabika, Kampala, Uganda, a place approaching the issues of mental health. The session will be followed by a beautiful Yoga Nidra relaxation and a releasing meditation. All are welcome.
Learning from the Sun, being a friend to all.
AUM Shanti shanti shanti
Mangala / Nicky.