Sun salutation

The Sun Salutation was the first effective practice to start my spiritual journey. I had practiced yoga before with good results but the sun salutation is special to me. For this reason I recommend its daily practice. If you have five minutes a day in the morning, that’s enough. But the ideal would be at least 10 minutes a day to practice both versions of the Sun Salutation and also chant the Gayatri mantra. There are also other important mantras but I’ll leave this subject for a next post.

The second variation of the Sun Salutation includes the Warrior Pose. You can see the posture in the photo below.

This pose follows the Downward Dog Pose. In the first variation, take five full breaths during Downward Dog. In the second variation, exhale while in the pose then inhale and bring your right leg between the palms of your hands. Exhale. Inhale and raise your body to the Warrior Pose. Then bring your right leg close to the other leg and do Downward Dog Pose again. Exhale. Inhale and bring your left leg to space between your palms. Exhale. Inhale and raise your arms to reach Warrior Pose. Exhale and come back to Downward Dog Pose. Take 5 full breaths and continue the sequence as shown in the first photo.

As you can see in the image, the sun salutation is a circular practice, that is, the initial movement is the same as the final movement. Each movement is coordinated with the breath. In upward movements you must inhale and in descending movements you must exhale. You can repeat the sequence as many times as you like. It is important but not mandatory that you face the direction where the sun rises so that you can mentally make the connection between the practice and the actual greeting to the rising sun. If you can practice in your garden, facing the sun is ideal.

The sun salutation is an excellent exercise to lose weight because the coordination between breathing and continuous movements makes the practice an aerobic exercise, or cardio as it is called nowadays. During the period when I was taking the training course to become an Ashtanga Yoga teacher I practiced the entire primary series on average 3 times a week and practiced sun salutation daily (except on moon days – peak of new moon or the full moon, when the practice should be paused). With this routine I lost 10 kilos in a period of six months.

Almost the entire Ashtanga Yoga class, which lasts an hour and a half on average, is aerobic. The exercises are combined with breathing and the time spent in poses is shorter than in Hatha Yoga. For this reason the body adapts naturally and weight loss is just a consequence of your practice routine.

In addition to these practical benefits, there are also spiritual benefits associated with the Sun Salutation. In Srimad-Bhagatam, for example, the sun salutation is recommended in the following verses: “A twice-born person should worship Me, his worshipable Lord, without duplicity, offering appropriate paraphernalia in loving devotion to My Deity form or to a form of Me appearing upon the ground, in fire, in the sun, in water or within the worshiper’s own heart.”, SB 11.27.9 and “worship consisting of upasthāna and arghya is preferred for the sun.”, SB 11.27.17. Upasthāna and arghya are Sanskrit words that respectively mean prayers and water for reception (which is offered to a guest who arrives at your home). Prayers – or more commonly known as mantras in Indian tradition – are recited before and after practicing Sun Salutation.

Before the practice, chant the mantra associated with the practice of Ashtanga Yoga:


Vande gurunam charanavinde
I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus,

Sandarsita svatmasukhava bodhe
who awakens insight into the happiness of pure being,

Nishreyase jangalikayamane
like the jungle healer, who brings great well-being,

Samsara halahala mohashantyai
‘Relief from delusion, the poison of Samsara’

abahu purusakaram
The upper body having human form,

Shankachakrasi dharinam
Holding a conch, discus and sword,

Sahasra sirasam svetam
Having a thousand branched heads of white [light].

Pranamami Patanjalim
I bow to Patanjali


From master to the disciple Krsnamacharya

After the practice one can concentrate on chanting the Gayatri mantra or the Maha Mantra (Hare Krishna) because the aim of yoga practice is to relax the body so that we can practice meditation at the end without bodily disconfort. It is not necessary to devote a lot of time to chanting the Gayatri mantra. Vaishnavas chant the complete mantra three times a day, at sunrise, noon and sunset.


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