The Beloved Surya will always be my all-time favourite symbol. It is the ultimate attainment of self-realisation when we become one with the Hiraṇyagarbha (हिरण्यगर्भः), literally, the Golden Egg that is the Soul of the Universe, Brahman. The Vedas and Upanishads refer to Hiranyagarbha and credits him with the creation of yoga and ayurveda.
Here is my drawing of the beloved Surya and surrounding it is a 12-step sequence of the Surya Namaskara. There are some days when the Surya Namaskar is all that I do on the mat. I find it works every part of my body and it is actually a very beautiful flow that takes me up and down reminding me so much of our life’s journey that traverses many mountains and valleys.
Try it after a busy day at work and it’ll put you right straightaway. Don’t worry too much about when to inhale or exhale. Just breathe deeply and naturally as you go through the sequence. And if you can’t remember the mantras, so be it. Just hold an image of the beloved sun in the middle of your heart, that’s all it takes. And if you need clarity into a problem, just ask, “May Surya shine his light so that I see the way.” And he will always give an answer back.
This is one of the 2 pins from my Pinterest board that inspired my drawing. Of all the drawings on Surya, this is probably the most delightful with such a naive and childlike expression. You would have seen this before in my other drawing: The Popular Surya and another lovely variation of Surya in this post: Worship the Sun.
However, if you are really concerned about the breathing pattern, here it is. Traditionally the Surya Namaskar is done to pay homage to the rising sun. Therefore, let us visualise a ‘sun’ right up there where we can see ‘him’. In addition, the homage is also done in full trust ‘exposing’ vulnerable ‘parts’ of ourselves to God like our back, chest and throat. You’ll see what I mean as you read on.
The 12 steps of Surya Namaskar
Here is the other pin that inspired the Surya Namaskar in my drawing. I must say this pin is about the closest to the sequence I learned in India. I will now expand on each step with breathing pattern and focal point (drishti) included.
Step 1: Stand in Pranamasana with palms together in Namaskar (namaste) mudra pressing the edge of your hands onto your Heart Chakra. Traditionally, this means you would crook your thumbs somewhat and press the knuckles of the thumbs onto your Heart Chakra. Pause for a moment with eyes closed to visualise an effulgent golden coming from the Sun, entering your crown and then shines forth from your heart. Feel this light surrounding you as well as extending outwards into infinity. The light will go on to bless others.
Step 2: Inhale as you arch backwards into Hastauttanasana, exposing your chest and exhale as you go fully into the pose, exposing your throat to the ‘sun’. You might not be able to hold for a count of 8, in which case, inhale and then exhale as you go into the next pose.
Step 3: Fold down to touch your toes in Hasta Padasana, now exposing your back. Bring your forehead to as near your knees as possible and look towards the back. Breathe deeply and normally, to a count of 8. Your fingers can either grasp your toes or your ankles. There are other variations to this pose which you are welcome to use instead.
From this point on, try holding each of the poses for a count of 8 while at the same time, breathing normally and deeply in the yogic abdominal way.
Step 4: Inhale as you bring your right leg back to go into Ashwa Sanchalanasana or Horse Rider pose. Exhale as you settle lower into the pose, lifting your chin, tilting your head back to expose your throat to the ‘sun’. Look up. Breathe deeply and normally, to a count of 8.
Step 5: Inhale as you bring your other leg back, and exhale as you settle into Downward Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana. Push your heels as far down towards the mat while raising the small of your back to the ‘sun’. Your head will settle into its proper position if you look at your belly button. Breathe deeply and normally, to a count of 8.
Step 6: Inhale as you bring your knees down to touch the mat. You will find your back start to curl into the Ashtanga Namaskar or 8-point Salutation pose with literally, 8 points touching the mat – chin, both palms, chest, pelvis, knees and toes. This is an amazing pose to take the stress of the day out from your spine. Look to the front. Breathe deeply and normally, to a count of 8.
Step 7: Inhale and settle completely onto the mat. Exhale as you bring your upper body up to Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose, exposing your throat and 3rd eye. Look up. Breathe deeply and normally, to a count of 8.
Step 8: Inhale to come to Downward Dog, exhale to settle into the pose and repeat the same for breathing and focal point as described above.
Step 9: Inhale to go into Ashwa Sanchalanasana, and exhale to settle into the pose. Here, do note that as you brought your right leg back in Step 4, you would also bring your right leg to the front. This will result in you being able to work both the left and right sides of your body. Repeat the same for breathing and focal point as described above.
Step 10: Inhale into Hasta Padasana and exhale as you settle into the pose. Repeat the same for breathing and focal point as described above.
Step 11: Inhale into Hastauttanasana and exhale as you settle into the pose. Repeat the same for breathing and focal point as described above.
Step 12: Inhale into Pranamasana and exhale as you settle into the pose. Repeat the same for breathing and focal point as described above.
And that’s it. You can repeat for 3 rounds. Most of the time, 9 rounds of the 12-steps is a common routine and it’s an excellent work out as your inner qi or prana gets a chance to really circulate in the body.
~ ॐ ~