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Surya Namaskar
“The Sun, dispeller of darkness, whose eye contemplates all things….extends far his radiance, unfurling his flag in the sky.”----- Rig Veda
From this point of view, let us listen to Rushi's (ancient Indian sages) advice & practice Suryanamaskar; every day. It is an aerobic type exercise. It covers all the 3 aspects of the practice of Yogic Sadhana: Asanas (Postures), Pranayama (breathing exercises) & Upasana (rituals of sacred and scared Mantra chanting and also chanting of OM). It is popularly known as Sun-Salutation. In our ancient culture, it is practiced by males, females & even children.
The Surya Namaskars will make the stomach; bowels and nerve centers function normally, and will purify the blood. Children, both boys and girls, until they are about eight years old, are usually so active that they keep their muscular system in fairly good tone and their various functions fairly normal; but after eight they need definite regulated exercise and so they must be made to do Surya Namaskars, irrespective of caste or creed.
Children with normal health from eight to twelve should do Surya Namaskars daily from 25 to 30; boys and girls from twelve to sixteen should do generally from and 40 to 50. If this practice is religiously and constantly observed, one can defy all preventable disease and will keep oneself fit in mind and body as long as the exercises are persisted in.
To gain the desired end, therefore, Surya Namaskars have to be done systematically and scientifically. They are not a ropedancer's antics. They must be so performed as to develop and strengthen almost every part of the body.

It is daily physical exercise; it is only for a short time that has so excellent an effect. It ought, therefore, to become a habit, a necessity. Daily exercise can by no means be replaced by, for example, one hour's gymnastics twice a week or some hours'
 
practice at games or sports in the weekend, however excellent the latter may be regarded as supplementary. The rewards, which await those who perform Surya Namaskars according to our instructions, will be beyond price.
The Surya Namaskar exercise, in a phrase, is "Sun-adoration for Health, Efficiency and Longevity." Every Namaskar is concerned with the action of the following eight parts of the body: -
(1) Forehead, (2) chest, (3) legs and feet, (4) arms and hands, (5) knees, (6) sight, (7) Vocal organs and (8) mind and will. This sort of salutation is termed “Sashtanga Namaskars” - " an eight - sided or eight - limbed adoration," as we might call it.
The proper time for the Namaskars is before sunrise with an empty stomach, clearing bowels & bladder. The time before sunrise or at the time of Sunrise is the best. As I strongly recommended the Namaskar exercise for women - young and old, the following instructions will be found useful.
THE APPLICATION OF SIGHT AND SPEECH IN NAMASKARS
THE USE OF SIGHT
Sight is very useful in concentrating the mind. To secure exclusive or undivided attention of mind there might be cited Shri Krishna's exhortation to Arjuna in the Bhagvadgita:" Look at the tip of your nose, don't look round here and there." While doing Namaskars, therefore, have, as suggested elsewhere, an image of the Sun, a tutelary or guardian deity, a "swastika", or a white circular spot, hung up in front. When bending the head down, the eyes are directed to the ground, and when stretching it up, the ceiling or roof meets the eye, but while getting up and standing, with hands folded, a definite object in front is needed to help in the securing as a necessary factor of Surya Namaskars.
THE USE OF SPEECH
The principal Mantras of the Surya Namaskars are
Om : it is called Omkar or Pranava.

The six Bija Mantras : Hram, Hrim, hrum, hraim, hraum, and hrah.

The twelve names of the sun in the form of salutation.


Mitraya Namah, Ravaye Namah, Suryaya Namah,Bhanave Namah, Khagaya Namah, Pushne Namah, Hiranyagarbhaya Namah, Marichaye Namh, Adityaya Namh, Savitre Namah, Arkaya Namah and Bhaskaraya Namah.
 
Mitra friend of all
Ravi -- Praised by all
Surya director or stimulator
Bhanu – giving lustre or beauty.
Khaga – stimulator of senses
Pushan – Nourisher
Hiranyagarbha – Possessing power to develop energy and vitality in semen virile.
Marichi – Destroyer of disease.
Aditya – Attractor
Savitri – Begetter
Arka --- fit to be reverted
Bhaskara – refulgent
The three hymns from Rigveda etc., and one hymn from Yajurveda : The arrangement, in which the Pranava, the six Bija Mantras and the three Vedic hymns or one hymn, just mentioned above, are linked to the twelve names of the sun, requires some elucidation for the reader to understand.

The three Rigveda hymns are, for this purpose, divided into twelve parts, as,  To four names of the Sun are prefixed four Bija Mantras and to four parts of the hymn or hymns are prefixed four Bija Mantras. With, twelve names of the sun, said at once in the 22nd, 23rd, 24th Namaskar, you are to recite the six Bija Mantras twice over and the whole of the hymn or all the three hymns, said at once, should also be preceded by the six Bija Mantras repeated twice.
 
On this scientific and convenient arrangement are based the unabridged Namaskars as given at the end of the Bohk.

It is an aerobic type exercise. It covers all the 3 aspects of the practice of Yogic Sadhana: Asanas (Postures), Pranayama (breathing techniques) & Upasana (rituals of sacred mantra chanting and also chanting of OM). In our ancient culture, it is practiced by males, females & even children. It is a continuous cycle of linked asanas.

One of the objectives of Suryanamaskar is to mobilize the spinal segment & to correct the postural distortion, to strengthen the extensor muscles of the back & the muscles of the shoulder blades & to develop the pectoral muscles. The fast movements & quick change in different positions ensure freedom of movement, creating agility & flexibility & improving blood circulation. The dull brain becomes active & the brooding mind gets refreshed.
It contributes to muscular strength & suppleness
It gives you a feeling of endurance as well as exhilaration
It makes your spine and your limb flexible
It improves breathing capacity & stamina
It reduces your abdominal fat (syndrome X or metabolic syndrome)
Poor, sloppy, misaligned standing postures lead to disorders of the spine, hips, knees, & of the internal organs. Added to this, we may stiff lumber & cervical muscles, tight hamstring muscles or, on the contrary, over flexible muscles, which make us suffer postural pain. To correct all this & avoid future problems, our ancient yogis have prescribed Suryanamaskar to maintain the health of the locomotors system.
 

There are a variety of positions. Each has a different range of movement & affects several parts of the body simultaneously. When we stand erect, a part of the mind should constantly be aware of the posture & make necessary corrections for optimum weight distribution on the legs & spine. In Suryanamaskar, the spinal muscles are strengthened. All the inter-vertebral joints are kept healthy due to the rotational & lateral flexion, & flexion movements of the poses. Pain the legs due to certain vascular or neurological causes does not occur. The peripheral motor & sensory nerves are kept energized & function healthily due to the stretch given. Thus, inflammation of the nerves does not occur as happens in certain kinds of peripheral neuropathy. All the joints of the body are kept supple, so arthritis & other degenerative disorders could be avoided. Children with normal health from eight to twelve should do Surya Namaskars daily from 25 to 30; boys and girls from twelve to sixteen should do generally from and 40 to 50. If this practice is religiously and constantly observed, one can defy all preventable disease and will keep oneself fit in mind and body as long as the exercises are persisted in. To gain the desired end, therefore, Surya Namaskars have to be done systematically and scientifically. They are not a ropedancer's antics. They must be so performed as to develop and strengthen almost every part of the body.
 
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