This is the biggest myth about Surya Namaskars which keeps a major chunk of the society deprived from enormous benefits of one of the best Yoga practice. To overcome this myth we just need to know what Surya Namaskaar exactly is.
Is Surya Namaskaar a ritual to pray to Sun God for good health?
NO IT IS NOT SO
Then Why is it called Surya Namaskaars?
Basically Surya Namaskaars are a set of Asanas designed in a sequence which helps in strengthening the spine and all the joints. The Beauty of the sequence is, the same sequence when practiced very slowly enhances the muscles and tones them, and when repeated in a pace, adds strength to the bones.
The bone strength also depends on the calcium and Vitamin D. Sun being a natural source of Vitamin D, the Practice is believed to obtain best results if performed in the morning Sunlight. Hence Surya Namaskaars are not any ritual to pray to Sun God but simply a set of Asanas which provide more benefits if done in the presence of morning Sunlight.
Now the question is why do we chant “Om Sooryay Namah”???
The amazing gift of this particular Sequence of Asana (for that fact the entire knowledge of YOG) hails from a land where paying gratitude is a part and parcel of life. And paying gratitude is not limited to GOD, this culture teaches us not only to be grateful to our fellow beings but also to the Divine NATURE which in the form of Air, Water, Earth and Sun provides various comforts to the mankind.
To simplify, we thank a person when we take any small favor from them. Now the Sunlight which we are absorbing helps us to take better care of the most precious gift of the Divine to us (the BODY). So the chants recited during the practice are a way to say thanks to the SUN for providing Vitamin D and all the food (which depends on Sun for Photosynthesis) to the BODY.
Chanting is not a compulsion, it’s a choice.
To summarize Surya Namaskaar is a sequence of Yog Asanas good for Spine & Bone health and provides better results when practiced under Early Morning Sunlight. The Chanting associated with it are a choice to pay gratitude and NOT any Ritual process or Compulsion.
any Ritual process or Compulsion.
Yoga teacher (RYT 200) for Bodhi Yoga Institute, Hyderabad