The Surya Namaskar is probably one of the first things we learn if we start yoga. But ... What is it to salutate the sun?
Surya Namaskar (from Sanskrit, Surya = Sun, Namaskar = Greeting), or "the Sun salutation", is a sequence of asanas (yoga postures) intertwined and synchronized with the breath.
In India the Sun has been venerated for centuries and the origin of this practice is found in the worship of Surya, the Hindu god of Sun. The exercise corresponds to the phases and rhythms of the sun related to the rhythms of the human being during the day, so each asana represents a solar cycle.
This sequence, repeated several times, is a full-fledged set-up to start our yoga class, our surf session or the beginning of our day. Greeting to the Sun warms up and prepares joints, articulations and muscles in the body, helping us avoid injuries in later exercises, and also train our mind to observe our thinking, stay focus, and be open and ready to practise meditation.
When we internalize both all the asanas, and the corresponding pranayama composing Surya Namaskar, we can choose to use it as a very vigorous warm-up session, a demanding and energizing exercise, or to go through it gently, slowing and connecting to a deep grounding breath, always connecting breath and movement.
As an anecdote:
The classical sequence we practice today was created in 1929 by a Hindu named Bala Sahib, who devised this exercise as a training method for professional wrestlers to acquire strength and flexibility.
In SURF Yoga Ibiza we follow this traditional, almost sacred warm up for your yoga sessions in the water, but you will see we give it a subtle twist. A sun salutation from the water must be slightly different from the water than from the earth!