Variations on Surya Namaskar

108 for Peace Flier

Emerging from winter is no easy task, especially here in moody New York, where the seasons are extreme and Spring is oddly indecisive!  I started off my Thursday morning with 40 sun salutations – because in just nine days, I’ll be joined by fellow NYC karma yogis in offering 108 sun salutations in the name of peace in Prospect Park . . . Hopefully my body will catch up to my heart for this one!

I’ve already given ample thanks to Surya Namaskar in a previous blog, but today I wanted to recognize several of the variations on this sequence.  The variety of sun salutations out there speaks to the adaptability of the ritual through both time and geography.  It’s this very evolutionary characteristic that’s kept the practice going strong (for who knows how many years!  The Rajah of Aundh is credited with popularizing the practice in 19th century India (Singleton, 102), and Krishnamacharya set it off on an international journey  in the 1930’s.  Both teachers attested to the ancient roots of Surya Namaskar, though no written evidence has been found to substantiate these claims – yet!).

Here are three major forms of Surya Namaskar most frequently practiced in the states . . .

Sivananda Stylee

Variations on this include raising the arms in anjaneyasan (as taught by Sri Dharma Mittra), not lowering the knees at all in anjaneyasan, keeping the ball of the foot on the ground in bhujangasan.


Ashtanga A

Ashtanga B


(and as an important side note, I found it very difficult to find any people of color demonstrating Ashtanga Surya Namaskars, though I did go through over ten pages of video!)

Witnessing a magically wave-like expression of sun salutations intrigued me enough to keep me coming back to one of my first yoga classes in London.  The teacher was an elf-like man, recently returned from a sojourn in India.  It took me *weeks* to get the choreography down, but it felt so good when I finally did.  Here are a few more variations, and as with anything in America, cross over is encouraged!  Find a variation that resonates with you and get going with this exhilarating hypnotic hybrid of Bhakti and Hatha Yoga 😉







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