Surya Yoga is a way of practising Hatha Yoga. It is not just a sequence, although Daniel uses specific sequences of Vinyasa and traditional asanas to help the aspirant to experience the solar energy within.
The way (or energy) of Surya is demanding, dynamic and strong. It is very powerful, therapeutic and transformative and involves strong bodywork. However, its purpose is not to burn fat or make the body lean, flexible or strong, although this will occur through regular practice.
The purpose of Surya Yoga is simply to establish a foundation for higher practice by generating an inner heat that burns away emotional and energetic obstacles from the gross physical body. Through the practice of Surya Yoga the aspirant immerses himself in the current of solar energy and learn how to channel, enhance and balance the flow of life force (Prana) throughout the body. Therefore, the regular practice of Surya Yoga will result in an extraordinary state of physical health and an abundance of energy.
In Surya Yoga the seemingly opposite styles of “power-vinyasa-flow-yoga” and the more “alignment-oriented-traditions” have been united and therefore, aspirants of both Ashtanga, Anusara, Bikram, Iyengar and Vinyasa will feel familiar with this type of practice.
Surya Yoga is the modern application of an ancient methodology that was revealed to Daniel after years of practice along the guidelines of his Guru. It should be regarded as a modern adaptation and a preparation to the more sophisticated art of traditional Hatha Yoga and tantric meditation.
Generally, a Surya Yoga session begins with vigorous vinyasa that evolves into “modern postural yoga” focused on physical alignment and proper attitude. Each session culminates into pranayama, meditation and a deep state of relaxation.
The practice of Chandra Yoga is based on the spiritual practices, which Daniel practiced with his Guru during their time together in the Himalayas. It consists of traditional asanas, pranayamas, mudras, bandhas, kriyas and meditations. In addition, specific mantras are used and “planted” in different parts of the body.
The difference between Surya and Chandra lies not primarily in technique, but more in the approach, attitude and application of the technique. One could say that the techniques are all Hatha Yoga and the method of execution, intention and effort makes it either Surya or Chandra. This being said, certain techniques (like Surya Namaskar or Sushumna Pranayama) are exclusively Surya or Chandra.
Chandra Yoga focuses on the neglected spiritual and meditative aspects of yogic science, while Surya Yoga use the practice of modern postural yoga to open up the aspirant to the subtler and spiritually charged practice of Chandra (traditional, meditative and tantric) Yoga. Students of Anusara, Asthanga, Bikram, Iyengar and Sivananda will feel more at home with Surya and students familiar with Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Raja, Yin Yoga and other more meditative practices like Vipassana and Zen are generally more ready for Chandra Yoga. Also, spiritually inclined seekers, even with no experience of yoga at all, will feel right at home with Chandra Yoga as it is gentle and very profound.
The main difference between Surya and Chandra, and the methodologies mentioned above, is its strong manipulations of the life-force (Prana) that causes profound and strong changes to the aspirants whole organism – not just the physical aspects. Surya/Chandra is a complete holistic system that incorporates all aspects of yoga.
In Ashtanga the student is only concerned with physical practices while the student of Vipassana is only concerned with mental training. In Surya Yoga the main focus is on the physical just as in Astanga but it also includes mediation and kundalini oriented practices and during the physically demanding parts of the practice focus still rest on the energy within the body – not on stretching ligaments, tendons and muscles. Similarly, in Chandra yoga we focus mainly on the psyche, but we also manipulate the body and flow of Prana through the use of certain asanas and mudras, which is lacking in many modern schools of meditation.
The main difference between the two methodologies is that in Surya Yoga the aim is to cleanse the energy channels (Nadis) so the Prana can flow freely, and to increase the current and awaken the whole organism of the aspirant. In Chandra yoga the awakened energy is harnessed and channelled to arouse the spiritual qualities of the aspirant.
The system of Yoga that Daniel promotes is tantric Hatha Yoga. Kindly note that this has nothing whatsoever to do with sex.
The practice involves all aspects of yogic training; Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, Shatkarma and meditation and the theory cover a wide range of topics relevant to the practice; as seen from the perspective of yoga and through the clarity gained by its prolonged and regular practice.
The techniques are used for different purposes depending on where the aspirant is on his journey towards spiritual awakening; in the beginning they are used in order to balance, strengthen and expand the energy body (Pranamaya Kosha) as this has a profound impact on both the grosser physical body (Annamaya Kosha) as well as the subtler mental body (Manomaya Kosha.) This is the practice Daniel call Surya Yoga and it is similar to modern postural yoga, but there are some fundamental differences in terms of approach and focus.
As the aspirant continues onwards the focus shifts from a gross and physically oriented practice towards a more subtle and meditative approach. The practice then centers around traditional kriyas and meditations through which the aspirant manipulates Vijnanamaya (wisdom body) and Anandamaya Kosha (bliss/soul body.) This is the practice Daniel calls Chandra Yoga.
The Sanskrit word Surya means sun and Chandra means moon. Hatha means forceful, but Ha also translates as Sun and Tha as moon. Yoga translates as union and Hatha Yoga therefore means “the forceful way of uniting the solar and lunar aspects of man.” The sun is a symbol for the masculine and moon symbolises the feminine forces within each human being. The interplay between these energies rest at the very core of our being and these “energies” are brought into balance and perfection through the practical science of tantric Hatha Yoga. This state of being leads to the awakening of Kundalini.
Most schools of modern yoga have only focused on a purely physical level and use of the word Hatha Yoga to define their practice. Therefore Daniel uses the words Surya and Chandra to refer to the traditional practises of tantric Hatha Yoga that focus on the deeper layers of the solar and lunar energies within us.
It is only in an effort to help the modern western yogi comprehend these profound concepts and integrate them in their life and practice that Daniel uses the terminology of Surya and Chandra. In reality, it is all Hatha Yoga – the traditional way of arousing the life force (kundalini) and guiding it through the spine towards the brain. This basically means that through the practice of traditional tantric Hatha Yoga the aspirant can expand his consciousness until it encompasses the whole of existence, realising ones true self, God and the reality behind Maya (illusion of existence) in the process. This realisation alone can satisfy the root of all desires and longings and permanently free the soul from the worldly attachments that are the cause of all pain and suffering experienced by the soul on its journey through life (samsara). Hatha Yoga is much more than just the Yoga of physical exercise found in gyms and fitness studios all over the world today.