Monday, September 22, 2008

Suyra Namaskar with Intent

This was supposed to be my post last week, but I had limited access to a computer and less time to write. But I have a quiet moment right now so I can finish. My inspiration came from a class I was finally able to attend - I used to be a regular, then my schedule changed (actually the Husband was sent to Iraq for two years) and then they made the class registration only. I wasn’t able to commit to such a regimented schedule at the time. But, at long last, I made it to the session. I am always so inspired by the instructor, Joe. He is such a wealth of information and knowledge. This past Friday mornings topic fits well with my “Back to the Basics” theme.

Surya Namaskara - Salute to the Sun. More than just an asana.

Have you ever wondered about why this sequence - be it Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga or other variation - is called Salute to the Sun? Why is it typically done at the beginning of a class and not the end?

Surya Namaskar is a prayer to the light within us and outside of us. It is a way to honor that light which represents the Divinity in whatever aspect is right for you. By doing it at the beginning of class, we bring an intent to our mat, a focus to our session as we start to move into the practice.

Look at the sequence - we inhale in as we raise our arms over head, then exhale in humility as we either forward fold or move through plank pose. Again, we inhale toward the sun in exultation in our Urdhva, then exhale once again toward the ground in Ardho Mukha Savasana, in humility, then we reverse, always inhaling toward the sun, and exhaling in honor of that light.

It is said that doing Surya Namaskar with out intent just make this a gross physical practice.

I don’t know if I agree with the statement that doing Surya without intent makes it like any other physical practice. I attended a workshop a year ago where the instructor handed out sheets with a chant to Vishu. Over the course of the weekend we would chant the five lines at various moments. On the third afternoon, he had us go around the room one by one and chant this on our own. The first 7 people got to use their sheet, the last 25 had to turn their paper over. He reasoning was that no matter how badly we bungled it (and it was badly bungled) we were still tuning into everyone else who chanted it as well.

I guess that’s how I feel, that the movement speaks for itself. I know the connection with the light/Divinity/myself is greater when there is intent, gratitude and honor, but just like attempting the chant, I’m still connecting with the greater whole. It was a good reminder on Friday morning, as the sun was just starting to rise over Lake Superior and brighten the room, to be reminded to bring intent to my practice.

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