As winter is upon us, the weather chills and the external sun is not seen as often. However, our yoga practice is always there to kindle the heat of the sun that lies within. The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is the popular vinyasa flow found in all yoga styles, and its practice reheats, revives, and re-energizes the practitioner from the inside out.
At The Yoga Place, we celebrate the New Year with an annual 108 Surya Namaskar on January 1. We give gratitude to the sun and all its qualities throughout the year, and develop those same qualities within ourselves to bring new life and new blessings for the year ahead. In preparation for that, the Monday night specials from Nov 29 through Dec 20 will be “Deconstructing Surya Namaskar”.
I have been guiding 108 Surya Namaskars on New Years Day for probably around 15 years now, and when I mention it to students I usually get one of two reactions – “wow that sounds like a fun challenge” or “no way would I survive that”. But in reality, the Surya Namaskar can be practiced by anyone with the right attitude, alignment, and alternatives.
During the four week “deconstruction”, we will cover the individual postures that make up the classic Surya Namaskar along with variations – Tadasana, Namaskarasana, Urdhva Namaskarasana, Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Chatturanga Dandasana, and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Since the Surya Namaskar is made up of repeated forward and backward extensions, we will learn how to protect the lower back from over use. And, since there is a lot of shoulder work involved, we will look at movement in a more connected manner, finding support throughout the entire body instead of loading just one joint.
The meditation in action of the Surya Namaskar is also an opportunity to build mental awareness and alertness to every movement we make in every moment. “Integration” is what Iyengar Yoga brings to the practice of the Surya Namaskar and deconstructing the pieces will allow you to be more integrated in the whole – finding stability within mobility. As we move, are we truly alert, aware, and cognizant of ALL of our being? How do we usually fold forward or bend backward, by habit or holistic attention? Are we unnecessarily loading joints or using our full core and bodily engagement to “avoid future pains” as The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali suggest the practice of yoga can do? How might we find balance and care in a practice we hope will sustain us for our lifetime no matter what is thrown our way?
During the 108 Surya Namaskar on New Years Day, we also look at the twelve names of the Sun God which list the qualities of the sun that support the earth, but also support our own life and practice. Join me in the deconstruction and then the integration of the Surya Namaskar and build these qualities within your Self!
Universal Friendship – Internal radiance – Power Induction – Self Illumination – Lightness Strength and Nourishment – Healing Power – Destruction of Illusion – Energy Source – Enlightenment Removal of All Afflictions – Clear Intelligence