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Surya Devata

Surya Namaskar: A Means to Effortless Meditation

Introduction by Swami Ishwarananda

On the Siddha Yoga path, meditation is one of the essential practices.

For the practice of deep meditation, the physical body needs to be fit, strong, and flexible. Your well-being is important for maintaining a steady, comfortable meditation posture that will enable you to meditate without interruption for extended lengths of time—nirantara, without interruption, and dirghakala, for an extended time.

Surya Namaskar, “salutations to the sun,” is one of the elemental practices in hatha yoga. The performance of Surya Namaskar is worship of the deity of the sun, Surya Devata. It comprises twelve sequential asanas, “postures,” representing the arc of the sun from sunrise to sunset. As practitioners move through these postures, they bring forth within themselves qualities of Surya Devata, such as radiance, flexibility, vitality, and constancy.

Surya Namaskar is performed by synchronizing the postures with the breath. When done with intent and with focused awareness of the connection between the flow of the movements and the power of the breath, practitioners experience the awakened kundalini energy pulsating in every cell of the body. Then, it is easy to enter the state of meditation.

The power of Surya Namaskar is further enhanced by repeating mantras along with the sequence of postures. The scriptures of India praise the power of mantra. Specific mantras are associated with each deity, ritual, act of worship, spiritual practice, stage of life—and even with each activity. Whenever any mantra is repeated, aloud or silently, the practitioner experiences the qualities of the deity inherent in the mantra.

Mantras carry blessings. They calm the mind. They bring tranquility to the senses. Mantras support practitioners in attaining their goals.

The Surya Namaskar mantras represent different names of Surya Devata. When each mantra is silently repeated with the performance of its corresponding posture during Surya Namaskar, the practitioner experiences the attributes of the god of the sun.

Practitioners of Surya Namaskar combine the postures, breathing, and repetition of the mantras to establish a vinyasa, or flow, which creates a beneficial synergy of the mind, body, breath, and heart.

The illustrations of the twelve sequential postures include their corresponding mantras, which consist of AUM followed by the bija mantra and the surya mantras.

If you have an established practice of Surya Namaskar, you are welcome to study and apply the mantras as you move through the postures. From day to day, observe how this practice is invigorating your body, stilling your mind, and supporting you in your practice of meditation.

If you’re new to the practice of hatha yoga and would like to establish Surya Namaskar as a practice, I recommend that you learn from a qualified hatha yoga teacher. This will allow you to understand the structure and benefits of each posture and establish a solid foundation for your practice of Surya Namaskar.

In the Yoga Sutra, the sage Patanjali says this about meditation posture:

Asana [posture] should be steady and comfortable.1

Practiced regularly, Surya Namaskar will support you to develop a steady and comfortable meditation posture. One of the great benefits of a steady posture is that you will be able to meditate effortlessly for longer periods of time.

Observe and contemplate the ways in which Surya Namaskar strengthens your practice of Siddha Yoga meditation and brings forth the qualities of Surya Devata in your being. Marvel at the powerful connections between the postures, the mantras, and deep meditation.

1Yoga Sutra 2.46; I K Taimni, The Science of Yoga (Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1975), p. 252.
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I enjoyed reading Swami Ishwarananda’s introduction about Surya Namaskar. It is wonderful that after so many years of sadhana on the Siddha Yoga path, I am still learning new things to add to my practice. I was curious to learn the meanings of the mantras for each pose, so as I practiced a pose, I would repeat the translated words to myself. With each inhale I would repeat the phrase, practice the pose in the sequence, and then exhale.

As the sequences progressed, I noticed my breath opening and becoming deeper and more relaxed and free. As I came to Uttanasana, I felt my chest and arms fill up with an energetic vibration. As I progressed to Urdhva-hastasana, I felt immense gratitude within my heart for Gurumayi and this path. Finally Pranamasana, ”Salutations to Bhaskara, the source of brilliance,” ended my practice. “I am that. I am the source of brilliance.” arose from within in me, and I felt rooted in that truth and filled with gratitude.

Pennsylvania, United States

For a long while, I have been performing Surya Namaskar early each morning. This has helped me to align my body, breath, and mind. In addition, I have come to realize that as a result of this daily practice, my body has grown stronger, my breath deeper, and my mind calmer.

Delhi, India

Repeating the mantras as I perform Surya Namaskar allows my whole body to turn to God’s love. A warm enthusiasm begins to grow. All this takes place in a few minutes as I prepare for chanting and meditation. I emerge after meditation refreshed and breathing naturally.

New Jersey, United States

I have been teaching hatha yoga and practicing Surya Namaskar for over twenty years. Although I have always thought about the mantras for each posture of Surya Namaskar, I never knew how to use them or where to start.

Now I am making the effort to incorporate the mantras into my practice of Surya Namaskar. They are making my practice even more powerful, and I am left feeling very grounded and full of clarity and love.

I feel as if Gurumayi has poured new life and enthusiasm into my practice. I am so grateful.

Nairobi, Kenya

It was such a pleasure to read “Design concept by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda” after watching these twenty-seven slides about Surya Namaskar.
I have been practicing Surya Namaskar for more than two years, and it is indeed magical for me. I feel refreshed after practicing. I have read about Surya Namaskar and its benefits for the body from a physical activity and exercise point of view. And now it feels so awesome to know its importance in a spiritual context—and to learn that from my beloved Guru. 

Pune, India

Thank you for this information, which allows me to put so many teachings together: posture and breathing, mantra repetition, treating the body as a divine temple, worship, centering the mind—and now another golden jewel, the bija mantras.

This morning, I memorized the bija mantras and said them aloud with the poses. I feel so rejuvenated and simply but fully happy!

I am grateful for the Guru’s generous teachings and the blessings they bring into my life.

Bremen, Germany

After hearing Baba Muktananda speak in 1982 about the benefits of Surya Namaskar, I committed myself to the practice of it. All these years later, I still do it every morning. Over time, with the help of good teachers and my own expanding understanding of myself and my body, I’ve come to experience Surya Namaskar as if I’m in a different body from the one in which I started, with a different consciousness.

And today, I have the new practice of mantra for each asana! Evolution continues!

Brighton, United Kingdom

It is so true that physical exercise is beneficial for meditators! When I began practicing Siddha Yoga meditation, I had been very sedentary. Even taking a walk felt like a chore.

Immediately after my first Shaktipat Intensive, I began seeing Gurumayi in a vision every morning. In this vision, she didn’t get me up to meditate—she insisted I walk my roommate's dogs! Her image would hover in my mind and not let me go back to sleep; I had to get up and get out. After about six months, I found I could quite easily sit for meditation daily for at least a half hour. I have exercised ever since, and I now practice hatha yoga regularly.

I am very grateful for the mantras that will make the “salutation to the sun” an even better beginning to my day.

New Mexico, United States

I learned the asanas for Surya Namaskar in Gurudev Siddha Peeth during one of the retreats for young people. Over the years, I lost touch with this form of yoga, yet I aspired to return to it someday as I was aware of its benefits for the mind and body, which I had learned about in the Ashram as a teenager.
In the middle of last year, I once again began to practice this beautiful and rigorous form of yoga. However, I was unsure of a few of the steps and I wondered if my memory had gotten all of them right. Now, seeing Surya Namaskar on the Siddha Yoga path website was pure delight! My heart leapt with joy. What a blessing—the Guru is supporting my intention of doing it again and doing it right!

Mumbai, India

I am recuperating from surgery, and a few weeks ago in meditation I experienced Baba Muktananda coming to me and saying, “Essential yoga.” I felt he was reminding me of the power inherent in simple hatha yoga asanas, telling me to make sure to do them every day so I would heal faster. So I started to do simple asanas, adjusting each pose to what my body could easily do.
Last year, I attended the Pilgrimage to the Heart Retreat in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. After a hatha yoga session, I was resting in shavasana with my eyes closed and had a vision of Baba walking among the rows of participants, blessing each one. I feel that Baba is with me as I engage in this practice of hatha yoga.

New York, United States

Being greeted this morning by this beautiful presentation of Surya Namaskar, a profound and powerful homage to the self-luminous one, the sun, was wonderful! As a hatha yoga instructor, Surya Namaskar, this flow of movements, is part of what I teach. 
Thank you for the reminder of the dimension of pure homage to be found in Surya Namaskar, this salutation to that golden, incandescent, splendid orb that rises each dawn faithfully and majestically.

Florida, United States

What a great blessing! I was first taught Surya Namaskar as a teenager in Shree Muktananda Ashram. This practice has been with me ever since. It is a great blessing to have this profound practice honored on the Siddha Yoga path website this morning. The verses, along with each pose, bring the practice even deeper into my body, heart, mind, and soul.

I am thankful for the way that Gurumayi has graced the world by bringing such depth of knowledge to this practice.

Colorado, United States

I was so happy to see the post for Surya Namaskar on the website. It’s so beautifully created with all the postures and mantras. During my six months as a Gurukula student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, Surya Namaskar has been my favorite practice during the hatha yoga classes.

I feel that this ancient Indian yogic practice is guaranteed to give all its benefits to the one who does it regularly. Through the practice of Surya Namaskar, I worship the Guru as the sun in my life.

I am grateful for all the guidance the Guru has given us through the medium of this website. May we come to know its power by putting it into practice.

a Gurukula student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth

Thank you for this exquisite invocation. I practice Surya Namaskar each day to help my body prepare for meditation and the day ahead. This morning, I repeated the invocation, and it transformed a pleasant form of exercise into worship of the inner sun, my own Self.

I’ve copied it into my journal so that I can continue to contemplate each amazing line and integrate the words and my understanding of them into my practice.

Massachusetts, United States

The sky is dark as the sun has not yet risen today. I hear the peaceful silence. I am happy with anticipation to greet this new and sacred day. It is beautiful to see this presentation of Surya Namaskar.

I have the privilege of offering seva as a hatha yoga teacher, and to see this spiritual practice honored here on the website makes me want to sing to the heavens. I go now to meditate and to practice with the rising of the sun.

Thank you for this awesome post. I am moved to rededicate myself again and again to practice venerating the sun both within and without.

New York, United States