Fitness > The Origins of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) 
8th Mar 2022

The Origins of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) 

Surya Namaskar is one of the most revered and popular forms of yoga. This powerful sequence helps seniors connect to their inner selves and the frequencies of the cosmos, making them feel one with all they can perceive. It immensely benefits the nervous, respiratory, digestive, and circulatory systems. It is a great way to stay in shape without dieting or depriving oneself of their favourite food. It is one of the most popular techniques of yoga practiced by millions around the world. But very few know the genesis of this technique. Was it created by an ancient sage? Is it mentioned in the Vedas? This blog looks at the origin story of Surya Namaskar. 

Vedic Origin of The Surya Namaskar 

There are numerous references in the Vedas of chanting praise to the Sun and its benefits for maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit. Some of these hymns were incorporated into the daily routine, known as Nitya Vidhi, specifically meant for the wellbeing and welfare of an individual. During the Early Rig Vedic time, paying tribute to the Sun through rituals was a mandatory daily practice. Practicing physical prostration to the sun benevolently, denoting respect and submission, was largely associated with these regularly upheld sun gratitude customs. 

As per Vedic texts two most popular forms of Surya Namaskar were Trucha Kalpa Namaskar and Aditya Prasna.   

A. Trucha Kalpa   

This form of Surya Namaskar has its roots in the Rig Veda and was practiced in several regions all across the Indian subcontinent.. Each Mantra in Veda is called a ‘rucha’ (‘रुचः’), which means verse or a hymn. A combination of three ruchas (verses) forms the Trucha Kalpa Namaskara prayer, also known as the Vedic Prayer for Brahma Vidya.  

1. Sankalp: In Trucha Kalpa, one makes a resolve at the beginning of Surya Namaskar, requesting Lord Surya to give them good health and wellbeing. 

2. Dhyan Mantra: After making the resolution, Dhyan (focus) mantra is recited, which is as follows: 

ॐ ध्यये सदा सवित्र मंडल मध्यवर्ती।  

नारायण सरसिजसनसन्निविष्टः  

केयूरवन मकरकुण्डलवान किरीटी।  

हारी हिरण्मय वपुः धृतशंखचक्रः। ।  

3.Surya Namaskar : Lastly Surya Namaskar is performed while reciting several mantras. All Surya Namaskar mantras should be recited in the correct order and contain words to bring luck, health, wealth, and a better life. These Mantras consist of three ruchas that are mentioned in 1st Mandal, 9th Anuvak and 50th Sookta in the Rig Veda, which are composed in Anushtup Chandas (8 letter sequential stanzas). Below mentioned are the three ruchas:  

  उद्यन नद्य मित्रमह: आरोहन नुत्तराम दिवम । 

हृद्रोगम मम सूर्य हरिमाणम् च नाशय ।।  

Sukesume harimanam ropanakasu dadhmasi |  

Atho hari dravesume harimanam ni dadhmasi ||  

Udaghadayamadityo visvena sadasa suha |  

Dvisantam mayhem Randhyan mo aham dvisate radham ||  

B. Aditya Prasna  

This form is more popular in southern parts of India. The verses used in this form are mentioned in the first chapter of Yajurveda, Taittiriya. This chapter is also referred to as the Sun Salutation Chapter and has 132 Anuvakas (after-sayings). In Aditya Prasna, Sun Salutations are performed after the recitation of every Anuvaka.   

According to Yajur Vedic hymns, if practiced regularly, Surya Namaskar helps seniors achieve freedom from health ailments and diseases. It also takes away negativity and helps lead a stress-free and happy life.    

Puranic Origins of The Surya Namaskar 

Aditya Hridyam is another ancient practice of saluting the Sun before starting a new day. It finds its mention in Yudha Khanda Canto 107 of The Ramayana. It was taught to Sri Rama by Sage Agastya before fighting with Ravana. The Aditya Hridya Stotram (ode/ hymn of praise) counts a total of 124 praises of the Sun. As per The Puranas,  the regular practice of Surya Namaskar can erase past life sins of humans and bless them with divine grace. 

Mythological Reference  

Some believe that this tradition of bowing to the Sun for luck and prosperity started when Lord Hanuman attempted to swallow the Sun, as he mistook it for a fruit. When Lord Hanuman realized the harm he had caused, he prostrated himself in penance before Lord Surya (Sun God) to seek forgiveness.   

Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation is an age-old practice that has its roots deep in traditional Indian culture. However, modern-day yogis believe it has undergone alterations over the years, and the original practice may be partially lost. Regardless of whether the Surya Namaskar is practiced in its original form or a modified version, it is still widely practiced today and not just in India but globally. More & more people find the  Surya Namaskar extremely beneficial for their physical and mental health.    

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to perform Surya Namaskar for seniors?

The optimum time to perform Surya Namaskar is considered early morning, just before sunrise. Having a clutter-free, calm mind will help one feel more positive and energized throughout the day 

How many steps are there in Surya Namaskar?  

Surya Namaskar is a set of 12 different exercises practiced together as one. 

Can I do Surya Namaskar in the evening?

Yes, you can do Surya Namaskar in the evening as well.  

Which is the best day to start practicing Surya Namaskar?

Some advise to begin practicing Surya Namaskar on Sunday as it is considered the day of the Lord of the Sun. But one can start it on any day if they do not follow such notions. 

Does Surya Namaskar reduce belly fat?  

Surya Namaskar Asanas can be done at a faster pace to lose weight, especially in the belly area. It also helps to improve circulation and raises metabolism rates in the body.