The Classical Yoga Exercise is called Surya Namaskara – better known to Western students as the ‘Sun Exercise’ or ‘Salute to the Sun’. This physical exercise is traditionally performed as a daily discipline in order to assist health by stimulating the major organs and glands of the body. It is usually executed as a continuous flow of twelve movements and, as with all yogic exercise, a slower pace is considered more complete approach, allowing better mental concentration.
The twelve positions each have an attendant thought focus upon the twelve universally accepted qualities of the Sun which when blended, offer a concept of perfection, or completeness. Although these are associated with inner recitation of the classical Sanskrit, it is modified appropriately in keeping with say Christians who may use the movements combined with the Lord’s Prayer just as other non-Hindus will apply their appropriate modifications.
Some who understand the astrological principles believe the twelve fold division of the Sun Salute may also be directed towards the zodiacal signs. This is recommended as a very satisfactory concept to use.
The following gives the Sanskrit and an indication of the meaning of each invocation or prayer best known to scholars of Sanskrit.
OM Mitraya Namaha Oh friend of all, I bow down to you
OM Ravaye Namaha Praised by all, I bow down to you
OM Suraya Namaha Guide of all, I bow down to you
OM Bhanave Namaha Bestower of Beauty, I bow down to you
OM Khagaya Namaha Stimulator of the senses, I salute you
OM Pushne Namaha Nourisher of life, I salute you
OM Hiranya Garbhaya Namaha Promotor of Vitality, I salute you
OM Marichaya Namaha Destroyer of disease, I bow to you
OM Savitre Namaha Begetter of Life, I bow to you
OM Arkaya Namaha Inspirer of All, I salute you
OM Aditaya Namaha Inspirer of Love, I bow to you
OM Bhaskaraya Namaha Oh Holy One, I surrender to you
By tradition all yoga teachers employ this as a physical exercise and teach it in their classes, to be repeated several times at each session.
It is used to represent a student’s personal choice of twelve values or virtues chosen as a focus for personal self culture or Sadhana.
In healing tradition in Indian ashrams it is used with patients in order to stimulate the flow of blood to the whole body and is directed to be continued until increased perspiration and other indications advise cessation. It is claimed that by many repeated cycles of Surya Namaskara all diseases can be cured.
A twelve-fold cycle is considered a fine health measure for western students.