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Today Yoga has become the ‘In thing’- Being called a ‘Yogi’ is cool. Yoga is inspiring but at the same time intimidating. The ability to hold a pose, to bend deeper in a pose or to touch the toes, makes one feel victorious. Today’s society that is driven by instant results, this victory over our own body to do more, to push harder satisfies this drive in us. But is this what ‘Yoga’ is? Is this all there is to Yoga?

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(The following video has been recorded by Anisha Singh for desideewar. We appreciate her guidance in teaching our  readers the right way of doing Surya Namaskar)


Personally, it perplexed me. All the depth and width, that I had heard about this difficult thing called ‘Yoga’-was it all encapsulated in my ability to reach my toes or to make my downward facing dog look awesome? I was doing Yoga but why was I still emotionally all over the place, at times. Was I a ‘Yogi’? The email blasts I got from yoga studio did address us as “Dear Yogis”. So I must be one, right? But why did I not feel any different on the inside? May be a little more toned on the outside and definitely enough flexibility to impress my friends and family. Was I doing the ‘perfect’ Surya Namaskar? Hence began my journey to self-discovery… 

Today I talk about my personal take on Surya Namaskar- a 12 step flexing and bending routine in yoga asanas that is extremely popular. Kareena Kapoor sure helped popularize it more. If she could get to size zero with 50 Surya Namaskar, then why not me, why not all of us. So the herd begins! 

IS ‘SURYA NAMASKAR’ YOGA?

Well, Yoga means ‘union with God’. To achieve union with God, one needs to look way deeper into oneself and bring forth the light that is within us but is covered up by the layers of ignorance, ego, anger, frustration, stress. So Yoga cannot be simplified into these postures. 

Now, since it is impossible to go deeper within us, meditate and connect to higher power without a healthy body, the yoga postures have been developed to keep the body healthy while you connect to your ‘Being’. So Surya Namaskar is a series of poses performed in a specific order that helps get the spine limber first thing in the morning, so that the body and the mind is ready to meditate and hence begin the day with a calm and peaceful mindset. 

If you are doing surya Namaskar, early morning, in the garden, facing the sun, with a smile on your face, with no negative thought and with a feeling of gratitude towards sun and towards every living being, then, you are doing ‘Yoga’. But if you are doing Surya Namaskar, while watching T.V., with a DVD of surya Namaskar or you are stretching and bending beyond your capacity and feeling bad about your inflexibility or causing yourself pain in the process of doing it, then you are not doing ‘Yoga’. If you are ‘perfect appearing’ in your surya Namaskar poses but your mind wanders during the poses or you are focused on the other people in the class around you, then you are not doing ‘Yoga’. If your ego is arising because how well you perform the poses and how many suryanamskars you can do, then you are not doing ‘Yoga’.  

So the question is what do we want Surya Namaskar to be for us- yoga or an exercise? I personally use it as an exercise… I do Surya Namaskar any time of the day, any place, any no. of sets. I modify the poses based on how my body is feeling that day. I have found that with my busy lifestyle, I can not use Surya Namaskar as a ‘yogic’ process. I do 1-2 sets in the morning before my meditation but may do other sets at nighttime!

WHAT’S YOUR INTENTION BEHIND SURYA NAMASKAR?

Make your intention very clear to yourself. Surya Namaskar has great benefits as an exercise. Are you adding Surya Namaskar to your exercise routine for added benefits of flexibility etc or are you using Surya Namaskar as a way to go deeper in your inner self? Either way, you are on the right path.  

Surya Namaskar was done by ‘Yogis’ in India as a way to start their day with the right thoughts. But today we need not feel compelled to do the same exercise to generate the positive thoughts. Your muscles and joints are tight when you first wake up and doing a warm up routine is the best way to wake up the body. Any warm up routine can be of higher quality and meditative, if done with the right thought and intention. Surya Namaskar is no different in that way. Some parts of the world do Tai chi and that’s a wonderful gentle way to warm up too. Some other parts of the world do other kinds of warm up routines. In India, Yogis did Surya Namaskar. So seeing Surya Namaskar in the right perspective, changes your own expectations from it. It is not about doing it right, the perfect posture, the perfect toe touching but a gentle warm up and waking up of the body and really a great preparation for the rest of the day. 

HOW TO GET PHYSICAL BENEFITS FROM SURYANAMSKAR?

I will only talk about physical benefits since the emotional, psychological and spiritual benefits are beyond the scope of this discussion. 

The physical benefits are present only when you do not push and criticize your body but lovingly go into each pose with ease and grace, keeping in mind that you are waking up your body and nothing more. One benefit it will not have,  is to reduce you to size ‘zero’. Weight is much more complicated matter but health is a simple matter- add Surya Namaskar to your morning and you will be healthy. If basic Surya Namaskar is too much for your back or shoulders, or if bending makes you dizzy, you can modify any of the 12 poses.  To get the most benefit from Surya Namaskar, you will need to be attentive to your body. If after one set, you get winded, then limit it to one set. If any part of the body hurts, then modify it or skip that pose. You may do any other form of warm up too. Any warm up done first thing in the morning will help you, today and in the long run. If you do warm up every day, you will get more fluid and flexible in due time.

Flexibility, core strengthening, stretching, toned arms, open hips- all the physical benefits of Surya Namaskar will reveal itself to you only if you perform the poses with the right intention.  

SO IS THERE A PERFECT SURYANAMASKAR? 

Yes, the one you do today is your perfect one. There is no ‘perfect’ pose and there is no end goal to reach. When you do each pose today with focus- focus on your breath, focus on your thoughts, focus on the muscle that you are stretching, focus on being gentle to your body, then you would have done your first ‘perfect’ Surya Namaskar.  

So go on ‘Yogi’, have fun and gently stretch and heal your body to good health!!

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