Sun Salutation: what is it and why should you care?

What is the Sun Salutation?

If you practice any form of yoga, you would most likely have heard of Sun Salutation. Its original name is Surya Namaskar. Surya means the sun, and Namaskar is a way of greeting. Hence, Surya Namaskar is often translated as Sun Salutation in the western world.

What is the purpose of the sun salutation?

In the video below, Sadhguru explains the incredible benefits of practicing Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation.

In summary, Sun Salutation is a process to activate the solar plexus.  By doing this practice, you can generate solar heat within your body.  As the solar energy raises in the system, your body will begin to glow and shine. This process can also cleanse excess mucus in the body and balance glandular secretions.

One cycle of Surya Namaskar contains 12 steps. Sadhguru mentions that the number 12 is significant because the sun cycle runs approximately every 12 to 12.5 years. Therefore, you can adjust your system and become aligned with the sun cycle, by doing the Sun Salutation practice. This alignment can bring you incredible physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.

How many times do you need to perform the sun salutation?

You can build up the Sun Salutation practice from three cycles all the way up to 108 cycles. The number 108 is also very significant spiritually as it represents the making of the solar system and the human body. As a beginner, you can always start with three cycles and gradually build up towards 108 cycles.

This practice is best done in the early morning. The time frame of 20 minutes before and after sunrise is known as Sandhya Kalas (a transition time in nature).  According to Sadhguru, this time of the day is very conducive for any spiritual practice. You can always make use of this time to do Sun Salutation.  (

Where does the sun salutation come from?

Sun salutation comes from a process called Surya Kriya, which is the fundamental (or the original) form.  Its full name is Surya Chandra Kriya.  Surya means the sun. Chandra means the moon. Kriya means an inner energy process.  Surya Kriya as an original form brings balance between our inner sun and inner moon, which is known as Ha (sun) and Tha (moon), thus hatha yoga.

Surya Kriya has an even stronger spiritual inclination, and it is a more refined form of Sun Salutation. Traditionally in India, only a few selected yogis got to learn Surya Kriya. Others were taught Surya Namaskar.  Sadhguru often jokes about Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, being “a dumbed-down version” of Surya Kriya.

Surya Kriya and Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

As mentioned earlier, one cycle of Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation has 12 steps. However, one cycle of Surya Kriya has 21 steps.  Surya Kriya also includes a particular way of breathing. Thus, in addition to the more profound spiritual significance, the process of Surya Kriya also activates a person’s system and balance the energy.  It can stabilize the body and bring certain stillness to the mind.

Sun Salutation can be practiced at a different pace. The pace depends on how long one can stay in each posture. In general, it is recommended to hold each posture for an equal amount of time. However, Surya Kriya is practiced differently.

Due to the pattern of the breathing, each posture requires a specific number of breaths. Therefore, you will need to hold each posture for the duration of the required number of breaths. It depends on your level of health and strength. In general, for someone new to Surya Kriya, it will take approximately 12 – 15 minutes to complete one cycle.

As you do Surya Kriya daily, your strength will grow, your system will become more relaxed, and your breath will become deeper.  Gradually, you will be able to stay in the posture for a more extended period of time. Eventually, you can complete one cycle of Surya Kriya in about 21 minutes or more.

Which one to choose

Surya Kriya is a powerful yet subtle process. You can imagine that one needs a certain level of readiness in order to receive it properly.  We are very fortunate today because Sadhguru has made it possible for anyone – whoever is willing – to learn Surya Kriya.

Surya Kriya is the original form; it is more powerful and has a more potent spiritual inclination. Moreover, it is a complete and holistic process for physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. For this reason, Sadhguru has instructed Isha Hatha Yoga teachers to focus on teaching Surya Kriya instead of Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation.

Therefore, in the current Isha hatha yoga programs you will no longer see Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation. Instead, the focus is on Surya Kriya for its deeper significance.  Of course, many other yoga schools still teach Surya Namaskar or Sun salutation.

Make use of Surya Kriya

Sun Salutation is a beautiful practice on its own when it is taught correctly. However, I will naturally choose Surya Kriya, as it is a more powerful, refined, and profound spiritual practice.

In this COVID time, many people are struggling physically and mentally.  But, so many people can benefit from the powerful tools offered by Sadhguru. Surya Kriya is a beautiful example of this.

In Boxtel, I run a Surya Kriya workshop every month, and many people have traveled from different places to come and learn this powerful practice. So, do not miss this opportunity! Join us and make use of this powerful tool to enhance your life.

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