Suryanamaskar

Traditional mantras and meditations are associated with each of the Surya asanas. More advanced students often practice this way at Sunrise, Sunset and Midnight, transforming a series of physical postures into a Japa, an invocation, a Dhyana ideally, even a 'Diksa,' or initiation. Namaste!

1. Stand with spine straight, feet close together, palms together in Anjali mudra ("Namaste" gesture), face turned slightly upward. Inhale. Exhale.

While in first position, try to "feel" the solar energy, or the light of the sun, pervading you entirely. The Mantra is: "Aum Adi Deva Namah." Aum is the Pranava, the Mula Mantra, and symbolizes just about everything possible; its 'meanings' are too numerous and complex to attempt 'translation' here. 'Namah' means both 'Name' and 'bowing.' Adi Deva means, literally, "first Shining One (god)" or "first consciousness of one's divinity." The position, standing straight, facing the sun, in Anjali mudra, represents Purusa, the "first Man" or "pure spirit." (All the mantras should be "said" silently, but "vibrated" as though spoken aloud.)

Pronunciation: Ahhhhh-Ooooo-Mmmmmmmm AH-dih Deh-vuh Nah-Mah.

2. Inhale as you bring arms upward, in a "V" around your head. Stretch backward, arching back as far as is comfortable with abdominal & buttock muscles contracted.

As you inhale, consciously 'feel' the vital energy filling you. The backward bend is symbolic of one side illuminated, the other side shadowed; as the sun illuminates one-half of the earth while the other remains in darkness; as the soul begins to come into a deeper, but still incomplete awareness of Its divinity. (Note: Traditionally, with Hatha, backward-bends symbolize a state of 'striving,' as forward-bends symbolize its companion state of 'surrender.') Mantra: “Aum Jata Veda Namah”. Jata Veda being the 'Birth of Wisdom' or beginning of knowledge.

Pronunciation: Aum Juh-Tta Veh-Dah Nah-Mah.

3. Exhale as you bend forward, keeping head between arms. Keep your knees straight, bend from the waist. Palms on floor to sides of feet. Relax neck and shoulders (if you can't stretch all the way forward at first, as far as you're able).

As you exhale, the primal creative force is represented by your out-breath. You touch the ground, symbolic of the 'creation' of the earth, matter, the incarnated self. Mantra: “Aum Jyoti Mey Linga Namah”. The linga/lingam is the male organ, the symbol of Siva, thus also symbolic of pure consciousness. Jyoti Mey is pure light or pure 'matter'. The two together represent the male and female creative powers (ie, Siva/Sakthi, Purusa/Prakrti, etc.). Consciousness has entered matter.

Pronunciation: Aum JYO-ttee May Lihn-GAH Nah-Mah.

4. Inhale. Bend knees, lift head so that chin points toward ceiling. Stretch your right leg back, right foot on the floor, knee bent, palms flat on either side of left foot.

Your foot is on the ground, but not your knee: you immerse yourself deeply in the union of matter and consciousness, while turning your face to the sun. Mantra: “Aum Devya Swarupa Namah”. Devya is your divinity, or divinity personified in you. Swarupa is "form" — "true" form, or the "form" which does not change. You recognize your "divine form" although not fully 'feeling' it yet.

Pronunciation: Aum Deh-VAH-yuh Svah-ROO-puh Nah-Mah.

5. Retain the breath, as you stretch your left leg back. Toes on floor, legs and body straight — similar to a triangle.

With your body in a straight line, hands and feet on floor, you represent a 'bridge' between the smallest atom and the whole of the universe (micro & macro). Mantra: “Aum Ansu Namah”. Ansu=smallest particle of matter. Ansu also means 'bridge.'

Pronunciation: Aum Uhn-SHOO Namah.

6. Lower body to the floor. Contract abs and raise stomach — your hands, forehead, chest, knees and toes will be in contact with the floor. Exhale.

The position represents vibration and action, while paradoxically being the "Astanga Pranama" mudra, representing obeisance before Divinity. Mantra: “Aum Rajaguna Rupa Namah”. Raja=supreme, royal. Rajas=energy, activity. Raja and Rajas are both implied. The "Gunas" are principles, qualities, states of being; Rajaguna is inherent in all energy, movement, action—in all of Life. Rupa means both 'form' ('outward' form, one's 'way of being' or presenting) and 'beauty.' Again, both are implied. You are the embodiment of Sakthi — recognizing this, you bow before yourself. You experience your Self as the energy that must unite with pure consciousness, and the Beauty within that state.

Pronunciation: Aum RAH-juh-GOO-nuh ROO-puh Namah.

7. Inhale up into bhujangasana — Cobra posture. Palms flat on floor, elbows slightly bent, chin pointing upward, spine arched as far as comfortable.

You rise to face the sun and bend backwards, having glimpsed your creative form, striving to unite fully with it. Mantra: “Aum Amrita Swarupa Namah”. Amrita is 'life-giving nectar'; it's also 'immortality.' (a-mrt, literally 'without death' or 'without end'.) Your true form is immortal; you have the power to give life, to create, to endure.

Pronunciation: Aum Uhm-RITT-uh Namah.

8. Exhale as you lock chin to chest and rise up with palms and feet flat on the floor, bent at hip — as in asana five.

You rise up while looking down; forming another bridge, between the conscious realm (symbolized by looking down at the earth) and the realm of the 'absolute.' Again, this is micro/macro, but from a different perspective: dove rather than serpent. Mantra: “Aum Usra Swarupa Namah”. Usas=Dawn; Ush=the warmth produced by the first light of Dawn. Usra=the experience of the warmth and the glimpse. You simultaneously assume the form of the experience and the experiencer.

Pronunciation: Aum OOSH-ruh Namah.

9. Inhale, bend knees, stretch left leg back, knee bent, foot flat on floor (similar to #4, but opposite leg). Palms flat on either side of right foot, chin pointing upward.

Similar to fourth asana, but this time you immerse yourself in consciousness rather than matter. Mantra: “Aum Hiran Mey Namah”. Hiran=gold, golden. Hiran Mey=Pure Gold; that which endures beyond enduring; that which is.

Pronunciation: Aum Hih-Runn May Namah.

10. Exhale as you bring right leg forward. Feet together, palms flat on either side of feet. Straighten legs so that you're bent from the hip as in #3. Relax neck and shoulders.

Similar to position three but "destroying" rather than "creating" — the expiration of that which is not Pure Gold or "That". You submit yourself to your Self. Mantra: “Aum Akasa Vihara Namah”. Akasa=aethyr; also radiant "inner" "space". Vihari=void, cave. "Vihara" also signifies the force or the "going" of Siva (Hara); the Anahata Chakra is often described as the "cave of the heart." As the bullshit dies, you embody pure, radiant universal energy; as the force of Siva extends throughout the universe, you embody the void, merge with the nada, "hear" the unstruck sound.

Pronunciation: Aum Ah-KAH-shah Vih-HAH-rah Namah.

11. Inhale, straighten body, keeping arms in "V" around head. Stretch up and arch back, as in #2.

Similar to position 2, but joy and divinity are now illumined, the remainder shadowed. Breathe in — you have 'given birth to' that which endures. Mantra: “Aum Adi Teya Namah”. Adi Teya=the first 'offspring' of divinity.

Pronunciation: Aum AH-dih Teh-YUH Namah.

12. Exhale. Straighten spine. Bring palms together in Anjali.

Return to first position=the cycle completed. Mantra: “Aum MahaVisnu Namah”. Maha=great. Visnu=god who represents the principle of preservation (as Brahma of creation and Siva destruction). You preserve the purity of Self that remains after the cycles of creation and destruction represented in two through.

Pronunciation: Aum MAH-huh VIHSH-nooh Namah.

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