The Surya Namakar or "Sun Salutation" is a series of yoga poses performed as a linked series. It is arguably the most well known exercises to come out of India and with good reason. I thoroughly works the whole body muscle, tendon and bone. The yoga positions help to strengthen the internal organs and nervous system and promote a good circulation of hormones throughout the lymphatic system. It is an exercise that has stood the test of time. Kushti wrestlers use this exercise though it is generally more common among the older men due to it's less vigourous nature compared to the Dand and Bethak. It allows them to keep their strength and posture without overly taxing their bodies. Even for a young man it is a fantastic exercise to perform as it will add years to your vigor and enable you to balance your personal practices.
There may be some variations between Surya Namaskars dependant upon where they are learnt and who is teaching. In general there are around ten positions starting from standing position or mountain pose. The body will then cycle through numerous positions including a forward bend, lunging positions, downward and upward dog positions back to standing. This is repeated numerous times, alternating sides with regards to the initial lunging leg. You may perform any version you have learnt previously or use those above. As with any exercise, worrying about the minutia is not important, doing the exercise is important and then tailor towards your own needs.
The number and time you perform your Surya Namaskars should fit around your lifestyle. It is definitely a worthwhile investment of your health and personal power. Traditionally they are performed as the sun rises, facing the sun (hence the name Sun Salutation) and this is a great time to exercise them as they will prepare your body for the day and you truly feel fantastic afterwards. Alternately they can be performed as a warm up, cool down or both for your main training. With regards to volume if you are new to the exercises perform 6 repetitions, alternating sides each time for balanced training. Between 6 to 12 repetitions are a good foundation to work with.
The Raja of Aundh advocated daily practice and you would be wise to heed his words. While seemingly trivial a little bit every day will pay dividends in the future. The Raja prescribed the following as the correct number of exercises to be performed for differing ages.
Age 8-12 perform 25-50 repititions
Age 12-16 perform 50-100 repititions
Age 16-40 perform 100-300 repetitions
Age 40-60 perfom 300-100 repitions
Age 60 plus, perform as many as your strength dictates.
As you can see this is a lot of Surya Namaskars! This was considered what teh average person would require to maintain their health. Samartha Ramdas whose disciple was the founder of the Maratha empire in the late 17th century was known for performing 1200 Namakars daily and his strength was legendary. The Raja of Miraj made the exercise compulsory in his state schools. Many will dismiss the Surya Namaskar as a waste of time. In the age of go hard or go home sexy exercise is what sells. People pander to their ego and not their individual health and personal power. They sacrifice large amounts of their vital force with no thought of the interest they will pay in later life. Exercises like the Surya Namaskar must be performed if you wish to live a long, strong and healthy life devoid of aches and pains. Take a leaf out of the stout older men of the Akhara and do your Namaskars!