An awesome way to bring in the day . . .
After six rounds and a touch of pranayam, I felt ready to tackle the final bits in my MA application this morning. BAM! Take that, applications!
Whenever I teach Surya Namaskar, a sequence of movements in honor of the Sun, I invite my students to dedicate their rounds to whatever brings light to their life. It could be something warming like the thought of a relative or something inspirational like “peace” or “love.” It’s a powerful way to bring meaning to movement, especially if you’re feeling a little low-motivation or energy this time of year. If it’s in the name of something great, you’re bound to give your best.
According to a friend of mine doing her PhD on Surya Namaskar in Haridwar, there are 23 major variations on Surya Namaskar in India.
If you’re curious about the esoteric aspects of this practice, including associated mantras and elements, I’d recommend the Bihar School of Yoga exploration on the subject, Surya Namaskar.
VIDEO OF RICHARD FREEMAN PERFORMING SUN SALUTATIONS
From Wikipedia …
Surya Namaskara (IAST: Sūrya namaskāra) or Sun Salutation (lit. “salute to the sun”), is a common sequence of Hatha yoga asanas. Its origins lie in a worship of Surya, the Hindu solar deity. This sequence of movements and poses can be practised on varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of physical exercise in various styles, to a complete sadhana which incorporates asana, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation.
The physical base of the practice links together twelve asanas in a dynamically performed series. These asanas are ordered so that they alternately stretch the spine backwards and forwards. When performed in the usual way, each asana is moved into with alternate inhalation and exhalation (except for the sixth asana where the breath is held in external suspension). A full round of Surya namaskara is considered to be two sets of the twelve poses with a change in the second set to moving the opposite leg first through the series.
There are numerous references to praising the Sun to enhance good health and prosperity, in the Vedas. Some of these Vedic hymns were incorporated into Nitya Vidhi (Daily mandatory routine for a Hindu). These daily procedures were termed Surya Namaskara (literally translates as “sun salutations”). The forms of Surya Namaskar practiced vary from region to region. Two such popular practices are Trucha Kapla Namaskarah and Aditya Prasna.
Aditya Hridayam   is another ancient practice which involves surya namaskar. It is a procedure of saluting The Sun, taught to Sri Rama by Sage Agastya, before his fight with Ravana. It is described in the “Yuddha Kaanda” Canto 107 of Ramayana.
Old English references
Early English publications record some of the ancient ways of sun salutation. In “A Catalogue raisonnée of oriental manuscripts” . (Year: 1860, Page 246) Rev. William Cooke Taylor, noted that a short book with 71 leaves with “Tricha calpa vidhi” from “Aditya Puranam” was preserved. He describes the vidhi as “Modes of rendering homage to Sun, with praise and spells; the object being health or delivery from disease”. He further notes the presence of Arghya Pradana, Surya Stotaram, Aditya dvadasa namam – 12 names of the Sun according to the monthly signs of zodiac, Surya Narayana cavacham, Saurashtacshari mantram, and many other elaborate rituals as the part of the vidhi. In Page 148 of the same book he describes a shorter version called “Laghu tricha kalpa vidhi”.
- Surya Namaskara, like most yogasanas must be performed only on an empty stomach. Therefore there must be a gap of at least two hours after eating and before performing the namaskara. It is generally practiced in the morning before breakfast or in evening.
- Surya Namaskaras are performed on a mat, not on the floor.
- In some traditions, 12 Surya Namaskaras are performed at one practice. If starting that practice for the first time, it is generally started with fewer (3 to 6) Namaskaras per day, and then gradually increased to 12 Namaskaras in a week’s time.
- Shavasana is practiced at the end of practice for rest.
- Breathing (pranayamas) is synchronized with asanas as mentioned in the table below.
- Mantras are pronounced at start of each Surya namaskara as mentioned in table below.
- There are a total of 8 different postures in the sequence of 12 posture changes of Surya namaskara. Some asanas are repeated twice in the same cycle of a Surya Namaskara.
- Practice of yoga postures (asanas) generally follows a surya namaskara practice. 
- In a traditional Hindu context, Surya Namaskara is always performed facing in the direction of the rising (east)or setting (west) sun.
- As per the scriptures one who performs the Surya Namaskaras daily does not get poor in a thousand births. 
(Raised Arms pose)
(Standing Forward Bend pose)
(Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
(Salute with the Eight Limbs pose)
|8||Adho Mukha Svanasana
(Standing Forward Bend pose)
(Raised Arms pose)
Mantras to pronounce and chakras
The following mantra is pronounced at the beginning of Surya Namaskara practice:
om dhyeyaḥ sadā savitra maṇḍala madhyavartī nārāyaṇa sarasijā sanasanni viṣṭaḥ
keyūravāna makarakuṇḍalavāna kirīṭī hārī hiraṇmaya vapura dhṛtaśaṁkha cakraḥ
(ॐ ध्येयः सदा सवित्र मण्डल मध्यवर्ती नारायण सरसिजा सनसन्नि विष्टः
केयूरवान मकरकुण्डलवान किरीटी हारी हिरण्मय वपुर धृतशंख चक्रः) 
There are certain chakras corresponding to each asana (posture). Attention is being brought to them when performing Surya Namaskara. It’s recommended to synchronize postures, breath, mantras and bring attention to certain chakras when performing Surya Namaskara.It needs complete devotion.
The following mantras are pronounced in each posture:
|1||om hrām (ॐ ह्रां)||om mitrāya namaḥ (ॐ मित्राय नमः)||Anahata (Heart)||Pranamasana (Prayer pose)|
|2||om hrīm (ॐ ह्रीं)||om ravaye namaḥ (ॐ रवये नमः)||Vishuddhi (Throat)||Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms pose)|
|3||om hrūm (ॐ ह्रूं)||om sūryāya namaḥ (ॐ सूर्याय नमः)||Swadhisthana (Bottom of the abdomen)||Hastapaadasana (Standing Forward Bend pose)|
|4||om hraim (ॐ ह्रैं)||om bhānave namaḥ (ॐ भानवे नमः)||Ajna (Forehead)||Aekpaadprasarnaasana (Equestrian pose)|
|5||om hraum (ॐ ह्रौं)||om khagāya namaḥ (ॐ खगाय नमः)||Vishuddhi (Throat)||Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)|
|6||om hraḥ (ॐ ह्रः)||om puṣṇe namaḥ (ॐ पूष्णे नमः)||Manipura (Solar plexus)||Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with the Eight Limbs pose)|
|7||om hrām (ॐ ह्रां)||om hiraṇya garbhāya namaḥ (ॐ हिरण्यगर्भाय नमः)||Swadhisthana (Bottom of the abdomen)||Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)|
|8||om hrīm (ॐ ह्रीं)||om marīcaye namaḥ (ॐ मरीचये नमः)||Vishuddhi (Throat)||Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)|
|9||om hrūm (ॐ ह्रूं)||om ādityāya namaḥ (ॐ आदित्याय नमः)||Ajna (Forehead)||Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)|
|10||om hraim (ॐ ह्रैं)||om savitre namaḥ (ॐ सवित्रे नमः)||Swadhisthana (Bottom of the abdomen)||Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend pose)|
|11||om hraum (hj ह्रौं)||om arkāya namaḥ (ॐ अर्काय नमः)||Vishuddhi (Throat)||Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms pose)|
|12||om hraḥ (ॐ ह्रः)||om bhāskarāya namaḥ (ॐ भास्कराय नमः)||Anahata (Heart)||Pranamasana (Prayer pose)|
|13||om śrīsavitrasūryanārāyaṇāya namaḥ (ॐ श्रीसवित्रसूर्यनारायणाय नमः)>||Anahata (Heart)||Pranamasana (Prayer pose)|
|14||om maata-pitryubhyaam namo namah|
The following mantra is pronounced at the end of Surya Namaskara practice:
ādityasya namaskāran ye kurvanti dine dine
āyuḥ prajñā balam vīryam tejasteśān ca jāyate
(आदित्यस्य नमस्कारन् ये कुर्वन्ति दिने दिने
आयुः प्रज्ञा बलम् वीर्यम् तेजस्तेशान् च जायते)