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What are sun salutations?

Updated: Mar 29

In yoga, there are few practices as revered and widely practised as Sun Salutations, also known as Surya Namaskar. This ancient sequence of postures holds a rich history deeply intertwined with spirituality, physical well-being, and mindfulness.

Coming up to the summer solstice, many people will spend the solstice doing 108 sun salutations.

In this blog post, we embark on a journey to explore the history, significance, and practice of Yoga Sun Salutations, and the origin of the 108 sun salutations, shedding light on their transformative power.

Origins of the Sun Salutations:

Sun Salutations can be traced back to the ancient civilization of the Indus Valley, around 2500 BCE, where the early practice of yoga first emerged. The Sun, revered as a powerful symbol of life and vitality, played a central role in the lives of the people. They observed the cycles of the Sun and its effects on nature, which inspired the development of rituals and movements to honour and harness its energy.

Philosophical Symbolism:

The practice of Sun Salutations is not merely a physical practice; it carries profound symbolic and philosophical meaning. The Sun represents the divine light within each of us, consciousness, spiritual awakening, and the source of all life energy. Each movement within the Sun Salutations is believed to correspond to specific qualities and energies, promoting a holistic connection between body, mind, and spirit.

The Sequence:

The traditional Sun Salutations consist of a series of fluid movements connected by your breath, that gracefully flow from one posture to another. The sequence typically begins and ends with a standing posture, with variations in between. As the practitioner moves through each posture, the breath synchronizes with the movement, creating a harmonious rhythm.

Physical Benefits:

Sun Salutations offer plenty of physical benefits. It is a full-body workout, engaging major muscle groups and promoting flexibility, strength, and balance. The dynamic nature of the practice helps to stimulate the cardiovascular system, improve blood circulation, and enhance overall endurance. Regular practice can lead to increased vitality, improved posture, and a toned physique.

Mental and Emotional Well-being:

Beyond physical benefits, Sun Salutations have a profound impact on mental and emotional well-being. The conscious connection of breath and movement cultivates mindfulness, grounding the practitioner in the present moment. This meditative aspect promotes mental clarity, reduces stress, and helps to alleviate anxiety and depression. Sun Salutations are known to create a sense of inner peace and harmony, fostering a deeper connection to oneself and the surrounding world.

Variations and Adaptations:

As yoga has spread across the globe, different variations of Sun Salutations have emerged. Some styles emphasize speed and intensity, while others focus on alignment and slower movements. Modifications and adaptations have been developed to accommodate practitioners of all levels, making Sun Salutations accessible to beginners and advanced yogis alike.

Incorporating Sun Salutations Into Your Practice: If you're new to Sun Salutations, it's advisable to seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor. They can provide proper alignment cues and help you establish a safe and effective practice. With regular dedication and patience, you can gradually deepen your understanding and experience of this transformative sequence.

Why do we do 108 sun salutations on the summer solstice?

  • The number 108 has significance and appears in historical, sacred texts. There are 108 Upanishads and 108 Tantras

  • In numerology, 108 equals 9, which signifies universal love, eternity and awakening

  • In astronomy, the distance between the Sun and Earth is roughly 108 times the Sun’s diameter

  • During meditation and mantras, Mala bead necklaces are counted and have 108 beads

To conclude, the practice of Sun Salutations is a testament to the timeless wisdom and beauty of yoga. Beyond a physical exercise, it is a sacred ritual that invites us to honour the Sun, awaken our inner light, and connect with the essence of our being. As you embark on your own Sun Salutation journey, remember to approach it with reverence, curiosity, and an open heart. Embrace the transformative power of this ancient practice, and let it illuminate your path to a balanced and harmonious life.

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