If you're a regular at vinyasa or flow yoga classes, you probably know Sun Salutations by heart. You may have done so many salutes to the sun that you feel like you could do them with your eyes closed. Today, many yoga teachers build their entire classes around Sun Salutations. It's obvious that saluting the sun is a wonderful way to connect with the breath and work up a sweat, but what is the significance of the sun in yoga philosophy?
For thousands of years, the Hindus have revered the sun, which they call Surya, as both the physical and spiritual heart of our world and the creator of all life itself.
The dynamic asana sequence Sun Salutation (also known as Surya Namaskar) is one way ancient yogi's honored the sun. Each Sun Salutation begins and ends with the joined-hands mudra (gesture) touched to the heart. This placement is no accident; only the heart can know the truth.
The ancient yogis taught that each of us replicates the world at large, embodying "rivers, seas, mountains, fields...stars and planets...the sun and moon." The outer sun, they asserted, is in reality a token of our own "inner sun," which corresponds to our subtle, or spiritual, heart.