Mantra for Sun Salutation Series

The Yogi of Yogis, T. Krishnamacharya, includes the following long mantra among his teachings. It was actually written in 1934, along with the popular Sun Salutation series, as part of “gymnastics” (or warm ups)  for Indian wrestlers.

It’s also a great way to stay warm on a cold Canadian afternoon!

backbend

Uttanasana – back bend

adho mukha

Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha

The asanas of the Sun Salutation series are:

Namaste
The Mountain
Back-bend
Standing Forward Bend
Forward Lunge
Downward-facing Dog
~ Cobra pose ~
Downward-facing Dog
Forward Lunge… on the opposite side
Standing Forward Bend
Back-bend
The Mountain
Namaste

The series is called Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, and loosely translated means “sun” and “bow”. Reverence for the sun as divine is the feeling behind the mantra, and the request… Please remove the darkness from my clouded mind.

As we move through round after round of Sun Salutations, we utter the words of worship as a meditation on breath and body. Both become like rivers, with rhythms of their own and revelations on the shore.

Surya Namaskar

Let us arise
Stretch our minds, our spirits and our physical beings

As we sweep our arms up and forward
We honour the earth, the heavens and all of life that is nourished by the breath cycle

As we lower our bodies, we connect with the earth
We stretch thought the atmosphere once more reaching for the sky

As we bring our hands together in Namaste
We gather the space of the heavens back into our heart and breath

Acknowledging that our bodies form
The centre point between heaven and earth

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Krishnamacharya (T.K.) is credited with bringing the Hatha limb of yoga back into the forefront of practice. His flow yoga sequences are still used, and are often referred to as viniyoga. Sun Salutations are a well known example of viniyoga.

T.K. was such a potent force as a teacher that  he inspired his son to abandon his engineering career to follow his father.  T.K.V Desikachar went on to become a well loved teacher in his own right.

Both are authors. Desikachar’s 1995 The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice, has become a staple for many yoga students, and T.K. achieved great scholarship in various darshanas of orthodox Hindu philosophy.

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Energy Sweeps: a step by step guide

We all function within a field of energy that gives our bodies and minds cohesion. This field is also referred to as an aura, and when it gets out of whack, or stagnant, a person may suffer from a host of ailments, mild to serious.

In North America, we aren’t taught about our energy fields, except in the original Star Wars trilogy, so knowing where to begin to “adjust our settings” can be daunting. The Energy Sweep sequence can be helpful. Start by standing in Tadasana, Mountain pose.  Feel the ground beneath your feet, feel the length of your spine. Allow the energy to flow out the top of your head, all the way from your feet upwards.

Energy Sweeps

  1. Sense your energy. Let it lift your arms out to the side of your body.
  2. Open your shoulders, but relax them.
  3. Inhale and exhale at a steady even pace, finding your own rhythm,
  4. Wiggle your finger tips, let the energy flow out them.
  5. Feel your body as a vehicle of movement. Begin to gently rotate your upper torso.
  6. Increase the rotations and lift the opposite heel (from the side you are rotating to) up off the floor. The toe stay grounded in a widened stance.
  7. (Lifting the heel protects the lower back as you sweep from side to side.)
  8. As you begin to warm up, raise the arms, still extended – up up up so they are reaching for the sky, still sweeping side to side.
  9. Play with your energy field like a little kid, move for the sake of moving.
  10. After a few sweeps side to side with arms extended overhead, begin to lower the arms again, fully extended to the sides, remaining in a widened stance, and gently fold downward.
  11. Keep your pelvis tucked – tilted forward, to protect your lower back.
  12. Hold the arms out as you sweep from side to side, lowering the upper torso – down down down to the point of hanging in Standing Forward Bend.
  13. Let the tension drain out of your body…
  14. Breathe into your muscles, relax…
  15. On the inhale, begin to swing your arms again from side to side.
  16. Start the ascent to a standing posture and then repeat the whole sequence again.
  17. Go up and down at whatever pace feels right to you.
  18. Repeat the sequence a few times.

The Energy Sweep sequence can be just the right vinyasa to increase awareness in moments of fatigue, to get the heart going for increased circulation to the extremities, and loosen tense muscles. All of these can help stabilize the energy field, leading to a clearer head and heart.