Continued from: The Origin and Development of Yoga. Part VII
The Sanskrit word surya means ‘sun’, and the word namaskara means ‘salutation’ or ‘worship’. Therefore, this practice is known as ‘salutation to the sun’. Surya namaskara is a dynamic exercise. It is neither an asana nor a part of traditional yoga. But because it is such a wonderful practice we have incorporated it into the yoga techniques that we teach.
We always recommend practitioners to include it as an essential and integral part of their yoga program. It revitalizes the whole body, removes all signs of sleep and is excellent for preparing the body and mind so that maximum benefits can be derived from the subsequent asanas, pranayama, meditational practices and so on. It loosens up all the joints, flexes all the muscles of the body, massages the internal organs, activates the respiratory and circulatory systems as well as helps to tone all the other systems of the body. In short, it harmonizes the whole body-mind complex.
It can be practised at almost any time of the day and in any place. No special preparations are necessary. If you feel tired during the day, a few rounds of surya namaskara will quickly restore the lost vitality, both physically and mentally. If you feel angry or depressed, surya namaskara is an excellent antidote; not a panacea, but a great help in removing emotional disturbances. It is a rhythmical, symmetrical exercise which is really a pleasure to perform. When it is perfected, the body almost appears to flow through the different movements without any effort or conscious will. Each part of the body seems to move automatically into the right position at the right time and in the right sequence without any effort. If you try it for yourself you will know what we mean.
Continue to: Surya Namaskara. Symbolic and Spiritual Significance