Seven Ways to Savor Your Salutations

by Tracey Rich

Suryanamaskar, the salute to the sun, can be a melodic moving meditation. Surya translates to the word sun in Sanskrit, the original language of yoga. Namaskaram, the traditional greeting in the South of India, translates to the word salutation like the more familiar word namaste which is in the dialect of Hindi and is used in the North of India.

There are many physical translations of Suryanamaskar from various schools and dating to different origins and traditions. These sequential vignettes or rhythmic vinyasas can used to open a practice, singularly used to link other sequences of asanas together and can become an entire practice in themselves. Surynamaskar A, B, and C are the most well-known and can be learned through all of our Flow Series DVDs in their proper alignment and with modifications for greater accessibility.

Here are some suggestions to help you savor your salutations. Try practicing each new repetition or grouping of salutations with your full attention on one of the focuses suggested below.

  1. Focus on the Fluidity of Your Breath: Let each movement within the salutation begin and end with a full, unbroken breath. Let the timing of your breath create the pace of each movement. This is finding rhythm in the salutation.
  2. Focus on Lines of Energy: Let extensional energy be the key element of each movement. Find the polarity within each action by sensing opposing directional energies… left, right, up, down, forward, backward. Over-effort will block energetic or nerve flow, whereas under applied effort can block energy and create joint tension.
  3. FOCUS ON ALIGNMENT: Let each complete salutation and each movement within the salutation follow the wisdom of proper placement. Finish each movement fully before executing the next.
  4. FOCUS ON ATTENTION WHILE CONCENTRATING: Keep your attention and concentration vigilant. Balance one-pointed focus with awareness in all directions. This includes upward and downward moving energy, inward and outward attention, aware ness of the space you occupy, the negative spaces within the form of the asana, and awareness of the entire surrounding environment. Energy comes from everywhere and can be lost thru inattention.
  5. FOCUS ON GRAVITY: The trick here is to work with and against gravity depending on the movement. Don’t do your own heavy lifting. In essence, learn to under stand and use gravity to elevate your practice. This is the secret to creating lightness in your asanas and experiencing the pleasure of being on the planet.
  6. FOCUS ON FREEDOM: Give yourself the freedom to explore range of motion, intuitive variations and creative nuisances within the poses that make up the salutation sequence. Letting go of what you expect to experience in the asanas allow the freedom of insight to surface and encourage the joy of practice.
  7. FOCUS ON FLOW: Let one movement flow into the next. Even though you want to execute each aspect of the salutation completely, let the next corresponding movement begin seamlessly. Focus on the spaces between asanas as well as the asana itself. Listen for the rhythm, look for the harmony, and experience the grace in your practice. Flow is achieved by bringing all of the aforementioned focuses into play at one time. Namaste!