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Dive into Sun Salutations with Shiva Rea and discover the sequences, mantras, and mudras that originally accompanied this simple yet powerful ancient practice.
Standard Sun Salutations as we know them in a modern practice are anything but basic. Yet it is possible to take them to next-level bliss. Here, Shiva Rea shares 7 rituals, including some practiced by yogis nearly 3,500 years ago, that will transform your Surya Namaskar into meaningful movement meditations. To begin, simply turn your body and your mat to face the sun, and then…
The sun provides Energy that through the green chlorophyll finds its way to human body through plants and animals. We invoke the energy of sun within us which resides at the navel where 72,000 nadis originate and navel is also the storehouse of prana in humans. On Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday we practice the joint freedom series. On Mondays and Wednesday we practice digestive series and on Fridays we practice the secret Surya kriya with energisation series and on Saturdays we practice the Ashtanga Yoga sun salutation A & B with energisation series to remove energy blockages in the body.
The Sun Salutation can become the great high point of your morning practice. While it has heating benefits but you can use sun salutation to enhance your respiration and cardiovascular functions. This is a beautiful sequence that can teach us to coordinate rhythmic breathing with body postures into a flowing routine. This suffices as a complete program when done 15-20 minutes continuously.
Surya Namaskar literally translated means “beautiful light” you are my own “Self”. Surya is one of the 12 mantra names for the sun. In the traditional practice of sun salutation, the Sun is honored during the period of rising and setting, so that its energies can be taken through the medium of mantra and pranayama – energetic breathing.
1. Set your drishti
“Wherever you send your awareness, there is greater circulation and presence. So, gaze from the back of your eyes to the sun in your heart. Try it: Pay attention to the backs of your eyes and then look inwardly to your heart; you may feel a corresponding somatic sensation. When you gaze into the heart’s center, it facilitates a more loving, more devoted, and more open feeling. You are also redistributing all the excess thought waves generated throughout the day. You don’t have to monitor inner or outer thoughts during your practice—this is a place you can land.”
2. Start your invocation
“Come into Hasta Mudra (hands out in front of you with both palms open) before bringing the hands together at the heart. You can make this into a ritual by turning your hands down toward the earth as if emptying the cup, letting go of the details of everyday life, and taking one breath or five. All along you are listening with your whole body and offering your full attention, awareness, and heart presence.”
3. Cultivate your sense of awe
“Vital health is linked to spiritual realizations, an awakening of universal awe that doesn’t belong to any one religion. Perhaps for several breaths, or as your hands are in Hasta Mudra, contemplate the sun. It’s something that helps me. Isn’t it incredible that I’m receiving this photon of light that takes about 8 minutes to get here from the surface of the sun? Isn’t it amazing that we have this fireball that we’ve barely begun to use for renewal energy?”
4. Dedicate your practice
“In the ancient tradition of linking sun mantras to health and vitality, just hearing the solar mantras was helpful for the elderly or anyone who was sick and couldn’t come to the temple. So, before Namaskar you can dedicate your practice to anyone who has any kind of health challenge—or to your own health. If you are modifying [asana in your practice], that helps you remain respectful.”
5. Add pranayama and mantras as you begin moving
“Krishnamacharya’s Surya Namaskar teachings included breath retention and mantra. Inhale into the movement and pause, adding the Kumbhaka [breath retention] and feeling the vital energy of the sun. Then exhale through your next movement as you say your mantra. Pause for the Kumbhaka after the exhale, and begin the process again. For the mantra you can chant aloud or even think Om or Om suryaya namaha.”
6. Shift into bhava
“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.”
7. Harness the light
“Literally embody the sun as you extend your arms in that wide circle above your head, and then as you flow down. Our heart generates an electromagnetic field that surrounds the body and is often felt literally as an inner heat—and that’s why the world traditions predominately view the heart as a semi-sun quality.”
(PHASES OF PROGRESS IN SADHNA IN TERMS OF STRENGTH)
The best flexibility gain can be made in sun salute due to flexion and extension of spine. It can be done slowly for meditative purpose or vigorously for 20 minutes nonstop for cardiovascular fitness. It can also be done for developing muscle stamina.
FROM 1ST-10TH OF THE MONTH
You can practice 3-4 times getting fullness of the movements. Later develop your breathing rhythm and flow. It will take 7-10 days of regular practice.
- REGULAR YOGI
FROM 11th to 20th OF THE MONTH
Increase to 6-10 repetitions, until your stamina is developed enough to do this without becoming winded.
- COMMITTED YOGI
FROM 21st TO 30th OF THE MONTH
In the second to third month it can be increased to 20-25 repetitions. After that time the effect on the heart and cardiovascular system will maintain the vigour. Done regularly 20 sun salutes will tone your body and reduce the weight. When done with full continuous breathing, each sequence should take approximately one minute for half cycle.
The 06.00 am class teaches you the Shiva Rea style Ashtanga Yoga Sun Salute steps of sun salutation to prepare you for Global Mala of 108 sun salutations.. It also introduces you to Digestive Series to strengthen your digestive system. We practice uddiyana bandha and nuali kriya.
The digestive series is excellent for people with indigestion, constipation, acidity, excess wind or gas, lack of appetite, diabetes, disorder of the male and female reproductive systems and varicose veins. You get physical benefits like chiseled body, weight loss, glowing face, cardiovascular health, joint mobility and removal of brain fog.
Throughout the practice become aware of the following:
2. Intra-abdominal pressure
3 The stretch of the Muscles
On metaphysical level this class helps to awaken your Manipura Chakra which is directly connected to your eyes. Ajna chakra and Manipura chakra are very closely related.