My teacher, Eugenia Basilewsky (shown in these images) taught me to do this series early in the morning. Surya is the Sanskrit word for Sun. The practice of the series Suryanamaskara reveres the light of the Sun by saluting it with a sequence of postures (Sanskrit = asanas). It is known as The Sun Salutation in the U.S., but is often called The Tiger Series elsewhere. When you do this, try to be flowing and concentrated just like a tiger waking up to the morning sun. If you have a cat, watch how s/he stretches in the morning. This will help you to understand that there is a rhythm to the movements—and they are slow and purposeful. Instinctive. To get the greatest benefit from this series, visualize the brightness of the Sun while you move your body from one position into another. Concentrate on your breath and flowing movements. The Sun brings vitality to the mind and body in a very active way. This series done early in the day is very energizing. If you want to learn more about the sun, check out Power of the Sun - Part 1 (there is also a link to this at the bottom of every page in this series.) A few words before we move to the page of instructions for Steps 1 and 2. When I use the words inhalation and exhalation, I mean The Complete Yoga Breath. You can learn how to breathe properly by listening to the sound HERE and then by reading the contents in the Breath section listed in the Yoga menu.
Sunshine for LifeTry to get out in the Sun. No Sun at all is as harmful as getting too much! If you protect your skin and don't bake in the middle of the day, you will be just fine. Some scientists say that it is vital for our health to get 20 minutes of Sun per day. A good time to do this is when the Sun is rising. In fact, if you live where you can be outside to salute the Sun as it rises, that's perfect. Let the rays of the Sun melt into your pores. Get out of bed a few minutes earlier every day until you are able to see the Sun rising. If possible, have a Sunbath as you practice this series.
- This dynamic Sun series is always synchronized with conscious breathing. Imagine how a tiger wakes up with the Sun and stretches its entire body with intensity and agility, yet is quiet with the knowledge of its own power.
- It is important to remain conscious of increased energy to all parts of your body. With each inhalation, you will feel that your body is being filled from the coccyx (tailbone) up into the ribcage and into both lungs—with crystal-like energy. The word for life force or universal energy in Sanskrit is Prana. (There is much more about this in the Breath section of this site. Links to this are also in the Yoga navigation menu, above left.) Most Yoga teachers and books focus on the Sun Salutation. However, there is another series—equally important—The Moon Salutation (direct link in Yoga menu on every page, left) It is a good idea to learn them both—Chandranamaskara (Moon) at night; Suryanamaskara (Sun) in the morning.
- As with the Moon Salutation, holding your breath is only dominated by how long it feels good, and the capacity of your lungs will determine this. Don't push it. That is not relaxing. CAUTION: If you have asthma, serious heart or respiratory problems, do not hold your breath. Inhale or exhale again as you feel the need to.
- For everyone else, while you hold your breath, keep your body as still as possible in the position it is able to hold comfortably. Pain does not always mean gain in Yoga. Yoga is about moderation. Don't overdo it. None of these movements require that you hold your breath or exhale and wait to inhale for more than a few seconds anyway. And this is not about static positions. You are moving from one posture to another. Inhale into one posture, exhale into another. Try to maintain a rhythm in your breath and your movements.
- According to the Yoga teachings, the body has positive and negative energies flowing through it. By doing The Sun Salutation correctly, these energies become equally stable. This result is better balance between the body and the mind.
- Tiredness is eliminated immediately. As mentioned before, it is better to do this in the morning when the Sun is rising. If you do this at night, be prepared to be too energetic to sleep. This is why it is better to do The Moon Salutation at night.
- The lungs get a thorough exercise. Imagine your lungs are like two bath sponges that fill with water. The lungs get filled with oxygen and vital force with inhalation. When you exhale, toxins are expelled from the lungs at the same time.
- The benefits of the early morning Sun can be seen all around you: the symphony of birds will cheer you. If you have an area of your body that is weak, let the rays of the Sun pour into that area and feel the warmth penetrate and strengthen whatever ails you. If you are outside, notice how everything in nature feels better during this time of day. If you have a garden, you already know how your flowers always look better in the morning before the Sun gets so hot and strong.
- The entire spine and each vertebrae is stimulated and filled with Prana. The blood is cleansed of toxins and filled with oxygen.
ObservationsLearn the order of the movements until you don't have to think about them anymore. When you reach that stage, your body will flow naturally. Getting upset about not remembering will not help you to remember. Be gentle with yourself until you know every step. Start with Step 1 and then move to Step 2. When you feel that these movements are no longer difficult, move on to Step 3 and then 4. This is a focused way to continue until you have mastered the Series and can breathe in and out of each one appropriately. Suggestion: print out all of these pages to make it easier for you (approximately 25).
BreathIt might be easier for you to remember how to breathe during this series if you visualize that you inhale whenever you stretch or extend your body up and exhale whenever you fold your body, come forward and down, or contract. The Sun Salutation is done in as a series of repetitions. When you reach the stage where you can do one series, try three series the next time. After that you can build up to as many 10 or 12, or whatever your lungs can do without any stress whatsoever. Please remember that this is not a test of your strength, but a test of your willingness to allow your body to flow with its own Sun energy.