Sun Salutations with Chakras Activation

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Ancients viewed Sun as the visual representation of the Divine on the earth. Some ancient texts identify Sun as the energetic and creative aspect of Siva and Vishnu, referred to as, “Surya Narayana (Sun God)”. Prashnopnishad (1:5) says, “Aditya ha vai Prano”, “Sun indeed is that Prana (the cosmic energy)”. In Vedic astrology Sun represents will power, fame, vitality, courage, power and authority.

Recovering from a major medical condition, I designed a practice routine of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara) and activation of chakras (energy centers in the body) with energizing visualizations and affirmations of powerful thoughts and feelings. It’s a practice I have come to love and still continue to practice it regularly for a vigorous and energetic start of the day.

And now I invite YOU to try it. As this practice has done for me, I believe it can revitalize a person in the morning, augment the faculties of concentration and visualization and wake up every cell of the body. The practice targets to stoke the “flames” of internal fire (agni) and energy (prana) across the vital energy centers referred to as, the chakras. It sets the tone of the day for me with inspiration and prepares me to face any challenges that come my way during the course of the day.

The practice involves visualizing the internal Sun* (your own fountain of energy, light and fire) in various chakras in a specific order and maintaining the visualization in the chakra (dharna) while performing a series of Sun Salutations. Chanting of Samskrita mantras while coming out of the Sun Salutation is optional. You may instead repeat it silently in your head or, substitute it with a short English phrase to infuse you with energy and inspiration.

Here onwards, internal sun will be spelled with capital “Sun”.

The origins of this practice can be traced back to an ancient prayer to Sun, Aditya Hradayam in Valmiki Ramayana. Valmiki Ramayana is one of the two major Indian epics, the other one being Mahabharata estimated to be 2500-3000 years old. Aditya Hradayam is made of two words, Aditya, another name of sun and Hradayam literally means “heart”. Aditya Hradayam in this context can mean “Sun in the heart,” “meditation on Sun,” “prayer of Sun from heart” or, “praying to that Sun which resides in the heart.” It is the last one that speaks to my heart because it is consistent with the Vedic concept prevalent in those times. The external sun is the representation of the internal Sun, the source of energy, warmth and light which is present inside all of us. It is the internal Sun to which we pray in the Gayatri mantra, “Om bhur bhuva svah, tat savitur varenyam. Bhargo devasya dhi mahi, dhiyo yo no prachodayat (Savitur i.e. Savita=Sun).”

It would be worth our while to review the legend associated with Aditya Hradayam from Valmiki Ramayana which can evoke appropriate imagery, mood and feelings (bhavana) for our practice.

Here is a brief summary of the story:

The battle between King Rama (the Hero of the Ramayana epic) and his formidable opponent Ravana goes on for several days and nights with no end in sight. King Rama is exhausted by the fight and engulfed with worry as none of his powerful weapons seem to work and undaunted Ravana still keeps coming back for even more fierce fight. Seeing Rama discouraged and preoccupied in his thoughts, Sage Agastya appears and reveals the secret practice of sun meditation, Aditya Hradayam and advises him to recite Aditya Hradayam mantras three times with one pointed concentration and that would help him overcome all his fears and doubts and grief, prolong his life and bring him victory.

Upon completion of the Sun meditation and Aditya Hradayam mantras, Rama was filled with extraordinary energy, vigor and composure, fought with great determination and courage and eventually destroyed the enemy.

(Valmiki’s Ramayana, Yudha Kanda, section 105)

In the centuries to follow sages developed various rites and practices based on Aditya Hradayam. One of these practices is Aditya Hradayam Surya Namaskara in which a practitioner performs a series of Sun Salutations while visualizing Sun in specified chakras and reciting mantras based on the various names of Sun.

We all face obstacles and hurdles that sometimes can appear too daunting to overcome, be that an intimidating project with fast approaching deadlines, a boss with unrelenting demands, an entangled relationship or an unpaid loan. They are the “Ravanas” of the “battle field” of our lives. Some days instead of wanting to get out and face the world, we want to “retreat” to our bedroom and hide. In times like that, how about exploring Aditya Hradayam Surya Namaskara practice and see if that could work for you? It surely gives me a jump start and set the tone right for my day!

Aditya Hradayam Surya Namaskara Practice

Here is the schema of twelve Sun Salutations (SS) with chakras and mantras:

SS#

Chakra

Mantra

1st

Heart Center (Anahat)

Om Mitraya Namah!

2nd

Throat Center (Vishuddhi)

Om Ravaye Namah!

3rd

Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana)

Om Suryaya Namah!

4th

Eyebrow Center (Ajnya)

Om Bhanave Namah!

5th

Throat Center (Vishuddhi)

Om Khagaye Namah!

6th

Navel Center (Manipura)

Om Pushne Namah!

7th

Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana)

Om Hiranyagarbhaye Namah!

8th

Throat Center (Vishuddhi)

Om Marichye Namah!

9th

Eyebrow Center (Ajnya)

Om Adityaye Namah!

10th

Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana)

Om Savitre Namah!

11th

Throat Center (Vishuddhi)

Om Arkaya Namah!

12th

Heart Center (Anahat)

Om Bhaskaraya Namah!

Note, in this version of the Aditya Hradayam Surya Namaskara, Sun is visualized 4 x in the Throat Center (Vishuddhi chakra)

3 x in the Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana chakra)

2 x each in the Eyebrow Center (Ajnya chakra) and the Heart Center (Anahat cakra) and 1 x in the Navel Center (Manipura Chakra).

We start and end the series of Sun Salutations with the Heart Center visualizing and holding the Sun in the heart.

Chakras

Chakras are the focal point of psychic energy and consciousness located in specific parts of the body. Candace Pert calls them “the mini brains” in the body.

The seven chakras, their respective sites and their characteristic qualities are listed below:

Chakra / Site / Quality

Sahasrara / Crown / transcendence, inspiration, independence

Ajnya / Eyebrow Center / intuition, intelligence, discrimination

Vishuddhi / Throat Center / communication, refinement, transcendence

Anahat / Heart Center / love, openness, compassion

Manipura / Navel Center / empowerment, self-esteem, health

Svadhishthana / Pelvic Center / vitality, passion, creativity

Muladhara / Perineal floor / stability, security, strength

This practice focuses only on five chakras, namely, Ajnya, Vishuddhi, Anahat, Manipura and Svadhishthan chakra and omits the Muladhar and Sahasrara Chakra. Since ajnya, the Eyebrow Center, involves the area from the eyebrow to the midbrain, you may, if you like, combine the Ajnya and Sahasrara Chakra and visualize sun from eyebrows and midbrain to the top of the crown.

Muladhar Chakra, the Perineal Center, is omitted in this routine. You may at appropriate junctures, if you like, activate Muladhar Chakra by contracting and releasing the muscles of the perineal floor while performing Sun Salutation, e.g. when in the Downward Dog phase (Adhomukha Shvanasana) or Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhavamukha Svanasana).

Simply have to bring their mind to focus on the site of the chakra, that specific body part (heart, throat, pelvis etc.) and visualize Sun in that part of the body.

Aditya Hradayam Mantras

Mantras are chanted as you bend forward in Uttansana in order to perform Sun Salutation. If you like you may say the mantra silently in your head. Some prefer chanting Samskrita mantra for their vibratory effect (spandan), meaning (artha) and feeling (bhavana). Artha and bhavana for each Aditya Hradayam mantra is provided elsewhere[i].

If you prefer, you may compose a brief phrase in English with a similar meaning and feeling (bhavana) to accompanying your Sun Salutations[ii].

Visualization and silent affirmations

The practice involves energizing visualizations and affirmations consisting of the images, thoughts, beliefs and images while you perform Sun Salutations.

Visualization in this context suggests you bring your mind to a particular part of the body (chakra) and see, think, recall or verbalize something related to sun. If you are one of the people who close their eyes and try to visualize something but see nothing? Relax! You don’t have to SEE in order to visualize, you may think, imagine or recall memories of sun. Even silently saying the word, “sun” creates a cascade of events in the body and mind. There may be certain qualities and functions of the sun that please you. Feel those feelings in your body, heart and mind throughout the practice. Feel the warmth, light and energy of Sun in the respective Chakra site.

Silent affirmations consist of energizing thoughts, beliefs and feelings that affirm and support the desired or aspired qualities and strengths you want to see expand in your life. Specific thoughts, feelings and beliefs are provided in the Practice Proper for each Sun Salutation, which are based on the energetic qualities of respective chakras and the meaning of Aditya Hradayam mantras.

Practice Proper

Preparatory visualization and affirmations

Stand attentively and comfortably. Visualize Sun starting with the Eyebrow Center (Ajnya Chakra) and going down visualizing Sun through the Throat Center (Vishuddhi Chakra), Heart Center (Anahat Chakra), Navel Center (Manipura Chakra) and the Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana Chakra).

Then move up in the reverse order from the Pelvic Center to the Eyebrow Center, but this time with this time with corresponding silent affirmations and visualization of Sun.

Modified Sun Salutation

Classical Sun Salutation includes Chaturanga, that is, prone position on all fours with chest off the floor. Multiple repetitions of Chaturanga especially in the morning can be hard on the shoulders.

Here is an adaptation of Classical Sun Salutation that does not involve Chaturanga:

  1. Tadasana with Anjali mudra (Mountain Pose with hands in prayer fashion) visualization [Inhale-Exhale]
  2. Urdhva Baddh Hastasna (Mountain Pose with Bound Hands in mild backbend) [Inhale]
  3. Uttanasana (Extended forward bend) [Exhale]
  4. Ashvarohana (lunge) [Inhale]
  5. Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) [Exhale]
  6. Chakravakasana (Cat Pose) [Inhale] 7.* Vajrasana* (Diamond pose) [Exhale]
  7. Urdhvamukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose) [Inhale]
  8. Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) [Exhale]
  9. Ashvarohana (lunge) [Inhale]
  10. Uttanasana (Extended forward bend) [Exhale]
  11. Tadasana with Anjali mudra (Mountain Pose with hands in prayer fashion) [Inhale-Exhale]

Sun Salutation 1

Assume the standing position for Sun Salutation with palms joined at the Heart Center (Anahat Chakra). Visualizing Sun in your heart, raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant “Om Mitraya Namah!

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain visualization in the heart center along with feelings/ emotions that the powers of the universe are here to help you and your heart is full of love, joy and compassion for all.

Sun Salutation 2

Visualizing Sun in the Throat Center (Vishuddhi Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Ravaye Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain visualization in the throat center feeling and believing you are gifted with the perfect ability to communicate your ideas and emotions effectively and transcend all barriers even under the most difficult situations.

Sun Salutation 3

Visualizing Sun in the Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Suryaya Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization while feeling and believing you are now directly connected with the Cosmic Pool of unlimited creativity, vitality and passion from which you can draw as much and whenever you wish.

Sun Salutation 4

Visualizing Sun in the Eyebrow Center (Ajnya Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Bhanave Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization in the eyebrow center while feeling and believing you now have direct access to the Cosmic Mind, the source of unlimited intelligence and intuition upon which you can draw as much and whenever you wish.

Sun Salutation 5

Visualizing Sun in the Throat Center (Vishuddhi Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Khagaye Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization while feeling and believing you are gifted with the perfect ability to communicate your ideas and emotions effectively, and transcend all barriers even under the most difficult situations.

Sun Salutation 6

Visualizing Sun in the in the Navel Center (Manipura Chakra) raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Pushne Namah!

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization while feeling and believing Sun is constantly nourishing you and with its myriad rays is showering you with formidable strength and perfect health.

Sun Salutation 7

Visualizing Sun in the Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana Chakra) raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Hiranyagarbhaye Namah!

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization while feeling and believing you are now directly connected with the Cosmic Pool of unlimited creativity, vitality and passion from which you can draw as much and whenever you wish.

Sun Salutation 8

Visualizing Sun in the Throat Center (Vishuddhi Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Marichye Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization, feeling and believing you are gifted with the perfect ability to communicate your ideas and emotions effectively, and transcend all barriers even under the most difficult situations.

Sun Salutation 9

Visualizing Sun in the Eyebrow Center (Ajnya Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Adityaya Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization feeling and believing you now have direct access to the Cosmic Mind, the source of unlimited intelligence and intuition upon which you can draw as much and whenever you wish.

Sun Salutation 10

Visualizing Sun in the Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. Bending forward towards the toes and exhaling, slowly chant, “Om Savitre Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization while feeling and believing you are now directly connected with the Cosmic Pool of unlimited creativity, vitality and passion from which you can draw as much and whenever you wish.

Sun Salutation 11

Visualizing Sun in the Throat Center (Vishuddhi Chakra), raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant, “Om Arkaye Namah!”

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain the visualization while feeling and believing you are gifted with the perfect ability to communicate your ideas and emotions effectively, and transcend all barriers even under the most difficult situations.

Sun Salutation 12

Bring palms to the Heart Center (Anahat Chakra) in order to perform the last round of Sun Salutation. Visualizing Sun in your heart, raise arms and perform a mild backbend. While exhaling and bending forward towards the toes, slowly chant “Om Mitraya Namah!

Until the completion of the sun salutation, maintain visualization in the heart center along with feelings/ emotions that the powers of the universe are here to help you and your heart is full of love, joy and compassion for all.

Ending the Practice

Continue to stand or, sit down in a comfortable position. Visualize Sun starting with the Eyebrow Center (Ajnya Chakra) and going down through the Throat Center (Vishuddhi Chakra), Heart Center (Anahat Chakra), Navel Center (Manipura Chakra) and the Pelvic Center (Svadhishthana Chakra). Then move up in the reverse order visualizing Sun from the Pelvic Center to the Eyebrow Center.

Finally, hold the Sun in your Heart Center, feel the light, energy and warmth of Sun circulating in the entire body from head to toes and toes to head. To intensify the effect, imagine the breath is moving in and out from the Heart Center. After establishing the “heart breathing,” feel that with each incoming breath, pure light, warmth and energy expand in the Heart Center and with outgoing breath they spread throughout the body.

If time permits, visualize yourself working on your task with vigor and determination and accomplishing incredible results.

Concluding remarks

The flow gets better with abhyasa (practice) Aditya Hradayam Surya Namaskara is a highly integrated mind-body task involving visualization, silent affirmations and chanting interwoven within the sequence of breath-coordinated movements. You will be richly rewarded for the time you invest in learning the various steps of this “dance” of asanas, chants, visualizations and affirmations. With abhyasa, over time, you can maintain the flow and the tempo you want.

The morning practice of Aditya Hradayam Surya Namaskara can provide you an opportunity to sharpen your physical, mental and spiritual “tools.” It has been said that skilled workers sharpen their tools before getting started with the day’s work!

  1. Om Mitraya Namah!” “I bow to Sun, Protector of Love and Friendship!”

Bhavana: Love, joy, support, and compassion.

  1. Om Ravaye Namah!” “I bow to Sun, Giver of Prana!” (Ravi is Pingala, the solar passage of vital air, Prana).

Bhavana: Expansion of Prana, strength and energy

  1. Om Suryaya Namah!” “I bow to the Radiant Sun!” (Surya, depicted with the golden arms on a golden chariot, manifesting rainbow in the skies, the light on earth and the seven chakras in the body).

Bhavana: Vitality, exuberance and abundance of everything desired

  1. Om Bhanave Namah!” “I bow to the Lustrous (radiant) Sun, Giver of Light and Intelligence!”

Bhavana: gifted with extraordinary intelligence, intuition and memory

  1. Om Khagaye Namah!” “I bow to the Soaring Sun!” (Literally, “Bird of the Skies.”

Bhavana: Aspirations and ideals

  1. “Om Pushne Namah!” “I bow to the Nurturing Sun!”

Bhavana: Strength, health and nourishment

  1. “Om Hiranyagarbhaye Namah!” “I bow to the Creative Sun!” (Hiranyagarbhah = “Golden Womb” or, “Golden Seed,” the first creation of the Self-existent)

Bhavana: Creativity, innovation, learning

  1. “Om Marichye Namah!” “I bow to Sun of Speed and Velocity!” (Marichi was the Chief of Maruts, the storm gods who brought water to earth)

Bhavana: Accelerated growth, momentum, swift progress

  1. Om Adityaya Namah!” “I bow to the Perfect Sun!” (Aditya in ancient scriptures described as pure and perfect)

Bhavana: Success and perfection in all endeavors

  1. Om Savitre Namah!” “I bow to Sun, Giver of Life and Light!” (Savita or Sun from which Savitre and Savitur are derived is prayed in Gayatri mantra for enlightenment and inspiration)

Bhavana: Inspiration and guidance from something bigger than ourselves, the Cosmic Mind

  1. Om Arkaya Namah!” I bow to Sun, Remover of Impurities and Afflictions” (“Arka” means “fire,” “flash of lightning” or, medicinal extract that heals)

Bhavana: Conquest of all obstacles and afflictions

  1. Om Bhaskaraya Namah!” “I bow to Sun, the Harbinger of Light” (Bhaskara literally means the “Light maker.”)

Bhavana: Expansion of inner light and love



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5 Kundalini Morning Rituals That Will Change Your Life

I found myself asking again and again, what is this and how have I not known about these practices before?

Although my Vinyasa practice continues to be steady, for the past year, I have changed up my morning routine to include several new Kundalini morning rituals. These rituals don’t just make me feel great, but I am not exaggerating when I say that they have really changed my life. The bouts of depression and anxiety I used to experience, especially postpartum, have disappeared. Not only do I feel brighter and more radiant, but my mind is clearer. I’m more even-tempered. I see more. And I’m experiencing more success than ever.

Here are the five most powerful Kundalini morning rituals I do regularly, daily if possible. Although you’ll feel results immediately, it takes thirty to forty days of consistent practice to really start changing your life. And, believe me, it will change your life.

 

  1. Cold Showers: Although it was one of the hardest rituals to get used to, cold showers are now part of my daily routine. I start with dry brushing and then coat my body in coconut oil. Then I get under the cold water, allowing it to hit my face and chest. I’ve found that you can massage your body, from the soles of your feet to your shoulders and neck, to help keep you warm (and to give you something to do). Even just thirty seconds under the cold water will change everything. And, according to Guru Jagat, cold showers are one of the best practices for glandular health, anti-aging, increased energy, and mental alertness. They will also improve the condition of your skin – you really do “glow” afterward!

 

  1. Subagh Kriya: This powerful sequence takes about twenty minutes from start to finish. It is said to be an incredibly effective way to bring more abundance and prosperity to your life. The whole sequence is done seated and involves various hand movements and chanting. You can find videos of this sequence to follow along with online at first, but after a few times doing it, you’ll learn how to do it yourself. The impact this has had on my professional life is astounding. I never start my day without doing this practice.

 

  1. Breath of Fire: This is one of the most powerful practices I do. Designed to reset your glands and hormones, this pranayama technique brings your entire body back into balance. Although it is sometimes taught with only an emphasis on the exhale, in Kundalini, the emphasis is equal on both the inhalation and exhalation. It is a powerful, rapid breath through the nose, but it is sustainable. Most Kundalini teachers recommend you practice breath of fire for at least seven minutes to reap the most benefits.

 

  1. Sat Kriya: One of the most essential practices in the Kundalini technology system, Sat Kriya is a simple breath meditation that helps to energize your body and increase your radiance. To practice it, sit on your heels, bringing your arms overhead. Interlace your fingers and release the index finger, squeezing the palms together. As you pull your navel in powerfully, you mentally chant “Sat.” As you exhale and release the belly, you repeat, “Nam.” Just three minutes of this kriya can elevate your awareness and energy. I do this practice in the morning, but also throughout the day when I feel like I need a boost. If I need more after the first three minutes, I’ll keep adding more three-minute rounds until I feel ready to take on whatever is next in my day.

 

  1. Frog Pose: This simple exercise is a lot harder than it looks, which is why I love to do it in the morning – it makes me sweat! To begin, you start in a squat position with the knees wide and the heels up. As you exhale, you come to stand, looking towards your thighs. As you inhale, you look forward and return to the frog squat. You can go as fast or as slow as you like. I’ll do at least 26 of these each morning, although many times I’ll go for three or more minutes. Although your legs might shake, keep going! The energy that will flood your body when you’re done is amazing. And I’ve found it’s a great way to shift my mood quickly, too.

 

While much of Kundalini yoga will feel strange at first, especially if you are used to different styles of yoga, I’ve learned to love it. Not only are the results of Kundalini morning rituals astounding, but almost everything is accessible, which means I don’t have to “feel” like doing yoga to do it. And, because the practices are fast, there’s no excuse to add them to your morning routine!

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