I will dedicate this post to my all-time favorite and all-encompassing exercise, the Surya Namaskar. If you are a yoga buff, you already know what I am talking about. Surya Namaskar, when done as it was meant to, sincerely and reverentially dedicating it to the omniscient as also to the spirit within oneself with gratitude, does the body and mind wonders.
Though there are shlokas one may recite prior to commencing suryanamaskar, they are not mandatory. Simply doing them with reverence is beneficial.
So here it is: the 12 poses, each accompanied with a “suryamantra”, or one of the many names of the sun. Again, the mantras are not essential, but I am including them as I do them. It is best to breathe in during those postures which stretch the torso/open the abdomen, as in backward bending or arching, and breathing out with forward bending postures when the stomach is compressed.
Please note: prior to commencing any exercise program, consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner. It may be contraindicated for some who have back problems and should be done under supervision from a professional to do it correctly, with good movement patterns from the start. Refer to the corresponding pictures below.
1) Begin in standing prayer pose, feet together and hands folded as in Namaste.
“Om Mitrayah namaha”
2) Slowly raise extended arms upwards, stretching overhead and gently arch back backwards, while feet stay together.
“Om Ravaye namaha”
3) Start bending forward with arms stretched and reach for the floor, hands reaching/resting besides feet as per flexibility. Bring stomach/chest close to thighs.
“Om Suryay namaha”
4) With both hands on the floor, and right hip/knee bent to about 90 degrees, with right foot between hands, extend left leg behind with ball of foot in contact with ground, keep back straight or arch backward if possible , extend neck and look upwards
“Om Bhanave namaha”
5) Bring right leg behind together with left leg and assume plank position with arms extended at elbows, feet resting on ball of feet.
“Om Khagaya namaha”
6) Next, bring the hands next to torso, palms flat on floor, assume posture touching chin, chest, both hands, both knees, and balls of both feet to the ground. Stomach is slightly (2-3 inches only) off the floor.
“Om Pushnae namaha”
7) From prone position, bring palms on floor, lifting torso by arching back, up to waist, pelvis should be resting on the floor and not lifted off. Look upwards by extending neck.
“Om Hiranyagarbhaya namaha”
8) Lift torso off the floor, and form a mountain with both feet and palms flat on floor, pulling chest towards thighs and flexing neck forward (chin toward chest).
“Om Marichay namaha”
9) With both hands on floor, left hip/knee bent to 90+ degrees, and left foot between hands, extend right leg behind with ball of foot in contact with ground, keep back straight or arch if possible, extend neck and look upwards. Basically this is the same as 4), with feet position in reverse.
“Om Adityaya namaha”
10) Stand up and bend forwards with arms stretched and reach for the floor, hands reaching/resting besides feet as per flexibility. Bring stomach/chest close to thighs.
Basically same as 3).
“Om Savitrae namaha”
11) Slowly raise extended arms upwards, stretching overhead and gently arch back backwards, while feet stay together.
Basically same as 2).
“Om Arkaya namaha
12) Return to standing prayer pose, feet together, hands folded as in Namaste.
Basically same as 1).
“Om Bhaskaraya namaha”
For those of you who are into this more dedicatedly and would like to precede with shlokas for invoking the sun, there are some+ different ones I have learned and include here. These are in Sanskrit so important to have some background knowledge of pronunciation:
“Hiranmayena patrena satyam saphitam mukham
tat tvam apvarnu pusan, satyam dharmaya drishtaye”
“Om namaha Suryaya devaya, sarva roga vinashine
Ayur, ayusha, arogyam dehi deva jagatpatem”
Aadityasya namaskaraan ye kurvanti dine dine
Ayuh prajnam balam viryam tejastesan cha jayate
As I think of publishing this post, there is one more shloka I came across and will share here
Om dhyey sada Savitrae mandal madhyavarti
Narayana sarasija sanasanni vishtah
Keyuravana makarkundalvana kiriti
Hari hiranmaya vapur dhritashankha chakrah
Ami Gandhi is a licensed physical therapist in the state of California. She is the owner of StableMovement Physical Therapy, a small boutique practice in San Jose that offers patient centered, one-on-one, hands-on physical therapy.