As seen on MyYogaOnline.com
I get up early in the morning. Really early. It is my choice, my lifestyle, to be up before sunrise, shower, and greet the day with an awake mind. Over the years a regular routine for me has been to start with a short meditation and then move into a few sets of Surya Namaskara. I enjoy flowing through the poses, feeling the gentle stretch in some and the strength of my muscles in others.
Depending on how I feel any particular day, I may chose to flow through the practice at a faster pace or to hold some of the poses and breathe deeply into tight muscles, expanding my diaphragm, letting extra oxygen find it’s way to my heart, my brain, and wherever it’s needed most at that moment.
This practice can be part of my morning meditation, on other days it becomes a fast paced cardio workout that leaves me feeling satisfied with my efforts and with a slight sheen of sweat on my body.
Bowing my head toward the sun, Surya, is my way of not only waking up, but also honouring all life and expressing gratitude for the sun coming up each day, even metaphorically when it’s raining out, after all, it’s a sunny morning somewhere in the world.
I have taken to introducing my clients to this practice of Surya Namaskara as well, usually as part of their at home exercise efforts, sometimes to help them get more centred and grounded and work out their troubles and worries through movement.
Often people enjoy moving according to their body mind type, their Ayurvedic Dosha. Finding their Dosha and adjusting speed, pace and intensity of the practice accordingly has shown to be a rewarding experience that can conjure up feelings of joy, peace, sometimes even an unexpected sense of euphoria.
Since I mostly work with clients who come to me to train their bodies, get in shape, lose weight, or reach other fitness goals, I don’t often have the opportunity to address this practice in a spiritual manner, but rather as a tool to reconnect body and mind, and, well, plain out getting a good at home workout in before leaving for work in the morning.
Being a multi taster, and a little bit of a traditionalist myself, especially when it comes to my yoga practice, I do like to combine movement with intention and also teach people who look to me for guidance to do the same.
A beautiful practice I often return to is to practice Surya Namaskara with a set of Affirmations.
These can change day by day and may turn into short prayers or mantras. This may also turn into a practice of gratitude. There is no better feeling then starting the day with an acknowledgement of all the things we are grateful for, the souls that touch as positively, circumstances and things that move us deeply and make us who we are.
Making your sun salutations a moving meditation I suggest to find a quiet place for your morning practice, allow yourself the time to move through 12 cycles of salutations. I find it helpful to have a cheat sheet with intentions, affirmations, words, or short mantras in front of me lest I get distracted easily and, like with any meditation practice, it helps to keep my mind focused.
I give a short thanks as I start my first salutation and quietly or internally repeat my intention or affirmation for this cycle of poses, keeping my mind focused on the intention throughout the cycle, and releasing it into the ether as I find my way back into Tadasana. I like to repeat this eleven more times, keeping a focused and quiet mind.
Just as focusing on an even breath throughout this practice is important to reap the benefits of a strengthening and powerful practice, so does repeating your affirmation or object of gratitude silently.
On days when you barely roll out of bed, not looking for the day ahead, and definitely not in any kind of mood to start your day off moving, dedicate your practice to the ones who are close to you, people or a pet you love. Maybe someone is need of some healing energy. Picture the face of a friend while moving through each cycle of your sun salutes. Finish your practice by giving thanks and wrapping yourself and those you dedicated your time to in loving kindness.
I’m always amazed yet never surprised at how much happier, calmer, more at ease and more at peace I feel coming out of my twelve cycles of Surya Namaskara in the morning, like a new born discovering the world with brand new eyes every single day, so full of potential to see, to create and to connect with your inner self and your outer world.
Try it out, make your list, set your intent for the practice and start to flow. Focus your mind and enjoy the feeling of being so alive and connected through movement and breath.
Please share your experience with us, I would love to hear about your own unique way of turning your greetings to the sun into something even more special!