19 February 2013

Surya Namaskars - why stop for 5 breaths in Dog Pose?

Flowing through the opening Surya Namaskars, a quiet, meditative blanket wraps around me.
I don't stop for 5 breaths in Dog Pose during Surya Namaskar A.
I never do.   I just keep moving...
ekam... dve... trini... catvari... pancha... sat... sapta... astau... nava... dasa... moving in time with the rhythm of my heartbeat, body and breath intertwined, one continuous thread.
Dog Pose ceases to be a pose here, instead it is a momentary pause between an exhale and an inhale, a fleeting station that I pass on an unbroken journey through the vinyasa landscape.

The haunting sound of Ujiyya breath now echoes through my being, carrying me on to Surya Namaskar B. Only after rising up into the second Warrior and returning via vinyasa to Dog Pose do I stop for 5 breaths. I welcome the rest here and drink it in like a thirsty traveller.   5 breaths is enough to gradually restore balance and equanimity. Exhaling the last breath, I spring lightly forward, inhale and continue on...

Occasionally I have wondered why it is we stop for 5 breaths in Dog Pose during the Surya Namasakars. Beginners may need to rest here; cold bodies may need the gentle stretch to the spine and the hamstrings; the forced pause of 5 breaths calms down the desires, the intensity...
But its not always necessary.
I prefer not to pause, it feels so much better to keep moving, keep flowing.
And it's my practice. I can choose. I can change. And I like that.


Anthony Grim Hall said...

No Sury at all in Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda, instead he presents each stage as a stand alone posture

Tadasana(arms up) - 15 minutes
Utanasana A and B - stay for some time in each
Caturanga - 15 minutes
Urdhvamukhasvanasana - 15 minutes
Adhomukhasvanasana - 15 minutes

Life's too short for a fifteen minute chaturanga but I tend to stay three to five long breaths in each stage perhaps do the same in Sury B, opposite I guess from what your exploring here. My back is dodgy in the morning and this seems to set it up nicely for the rest of my practice.

nobodhi said...

15 minutes in each? And in Chaturanga? I'm speechless. What kind of superhuman yogi can do that?

Thanks for your comment though Grimmly. Like you I've often practiced the Surya Namaskars staying 5 breaths in each pose - it makes for a different experience, a gentle easing into the practice, from first gear, to second, to third. My body is so resistant in the mornings that I tend to practice after work these days, and flowing through the Surya Namaskars without pausing creates a sort of vacuum that pulls my thoughts away from the workday.