Can't do surya namaskar? Try chandra namaskar instead

It has been incorporated as part of the physical training practices for the sake of our students' health.

 |  2-minute read |   11-06-2015
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The origins of practice of salutations to the Sun can be traced back to the Vedic times. It is similar to worship of many other aspects of nature, like water, fire, moon and trees, which started because human beings felt they were sustained because of this. These got incorporated into practices of religion with chanting of particular mantra with each position and then also focusing on various aspects of its ability to open up channels of energy.

However, the present form of surya namaskar, which we practise with 12 postures as a form of physical exercise, can see its origins not more than a century and half ago, when the promotion and practice of Indian physical culture started , like malkhamb and wrestling. There have been a number of research works which have proven the efficacy of these practices in maintaining health.

Now let us look at that aspect. Twelve steps, if you look at it in its individual form, are 12 postures. With one round of this practice you complete 12 postures which ensure that you stretch, do forward bend, do backward bend, exercise your back, hands, neck, legs and also work with your breath. Therefore, this is looked as an all-in-one practice for promotion of physical health.

The present controversy is unnecessary. We have such controversies because people want to make sensational news and when one makes that, the other retaliates with a more sensational statement. Take the example of "electrical energy". You use it for lighting lamps, you use it for driving trains, and planes. All use is positive. Now one also uses it in the crematorium and to execute a death sentence. Now would one say "electricity" is good or bad? No, because it is how we use it. It is how we look at it. It is the same with these practices. If you give surya namaskar a religious colour, you are not focusing on its health benefits. Surya namaskar in its present form, which has been adopted in the syllabus, should be looked at from the health perspective alone.

I personally went to teach yoga to a Muslim clergyman as a cure for his inflexibility. He told me he prays five times a day, is a little overweight, and has started to hurt at the knees. I told him to do some postures and said, "When you start, you may do these 12 steps, called surya namaskar". He had no hesitation, but he asked me, if he could do it in the evening. I said, "All right, no problem, then call it chandra namaskar."

So ultimately, it's how we want to look at it. We will see the world with the colour of our shades.

The bottom line is surya namaskar has been incorporated as part of the physical training practices for betterment of students' health. There is more than enough scientific evidence in favour of this. Why drag religion into it?

(As told to Aditi Pai)


Subodh Tiwari Subodh Tiwari

The author is joint director, Kaivalyadhama.

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