Health Practice Spirituality

The Sun Salutation

Just as I kept running up against the Mani mantra when I was researching “Retreat”, while writing “The Garden” I often encountered the Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, series of yoga asanas. Which, come to think of it, is unusual while working on a book on gardening, growing, and agriculture? Although I suppose there is a special connection between plants and the sun.

Here is a wonderful Sun Salutation image from Jeanne Tetrault and Sherry Thomas’ “Country Women” book.

And here it is in Ramón Sender and Alicia Bay Laurel’s “Being of the Sun.” A beautiful illustration by Bay Laurel.

In fact, I spent quite a lot of time during the writing of “Retreat” in 2018 and 2019 doing the sequence. I don’t think I had the core strength however, and I constantly hurt my back on it.

Here’s a mural depicting the Sun Salutations I found in the Connaught Place subway station in Delhi in 2020.

I always liked this illustration of the Sun Salutations which I have kept on file for years. Today I enlarged it in AI Gigapixel, cleaned it up in Photoshop, and added the tag on the bottom left. I would encourage you to download it. I took a little time trying to research what the correct names are for each of the poses. But the truth is, apart from a few of them, it’s rarely universal. However, as a final attempt before giving up, I thought I ought to check the Wikipedia entry for them. There I read that:

“Elliott Goldberg [Yoga Historian] called Vishnudevananda’s 1960 sequence a “new utilitarian conception of Surya Namaskara”, rejecting his guru Sivananda’s view of it as a health cure.”

Sun Salutation Wiki entry

Then I got pretty excited, because I have Vishnudevanada’s book. A very interesting dude he gave George Harrison a copy on the set of “Help!” where he was working as an extra.

Looking at the book it’s apparent that the illustrations I’ve always liked have been traced from these photographs.

I’m going to be 53 in May this year and quite fancy the idea of living at least another 50 years – though of course every day might be one’s last… So in due course I think I will try and bring the Sun Salutations back into my life and crank them out once a day like a good little guru.