Surya Namaskar: Step-by-step directions for 12 solar salutation poses

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Surya Namaskar is a full body energizer sequence that combines 12 yoga poses with rhythmic breathing and mantras greeting the sun. Surya Namaskar, also known as "The Ultimate Asana" or "The King of Yoga", literally means " Sun salutation.

The introduction to the meaning of Surya Namaskar expresses clearly that it is a technique to greet the sun with all devotion. A deeper look into the origins of Surya Namaskar gives us an insight into the importance of this practice.

According to the description of Hindu mythology and Vedic literature, the sun is the ultimate source of energy for all matter that exists in the universe. Rig Veda even emphasizes its importance by declaring: "Surya is the soul, both of moving and immobile beings". Hence, Surya Namaskar is not only a yoga practice but is also seen as pious.

Lord Rama was a descendant and worshiper of Lord Surya. The great sages and ancient yogis treated the sun as a revered entity by honoring the sun with great devotion. As a result, people in the Vedic age remained energetic, disease-free, and glorious throughout their lives.

Derive the similar benefits and quality of life by practicing Surya Namaskar according to this exercise guide.

Surya Namaskar meaning

The term Surya Namaskar comes from Sanskrit roots. "Surya" refers to "sun" and "Namaskar" is also a combination of "Namah" means "pray" and "Kara" is "hand".

Namaskar is the gesture of joining hands as in Anjali Mudra, and the first pose of this sequence (prayer pose) depicts a sacrifice to the divine. In the context of Surya Namaskar, the 12 thrower who lays his body face down on the ground, facing the sun, is the other form of namaskars (greetings) for the divine. The divine in this earthly world is no other, only the sun.

This implies that Surya Namaskar is a technique of praying to the sun with common hands. The joining of hands describes that the practitioner praises the sun with devotion as the highest and most respected being.

The inclusion of asanas, pranayama, chanting and meditation in Surya Namaskar makes it a complete spiritual practice i.e. H. Sadhana.

The Pingala Nadi, a pranic channel through which the life force flows, also represents the sun. The practice of Surya Namaskar regulates the Pingala Nadi, which ultimately regulates the practitioner's energy level.

Symbolic illustration

Surya Namaskar is a dynamic process that is performed rhythmically in a specific sequence of yoga poses. It represents natural rhythms that take place in our world:

  • Twenty-four hours a day
  • Twelve zodiac phases of the year
  • Biorhythm of the body.

In addition, Surya Namaskar is a way of worshiping the sun in order to sustain life on earth. Also for regulating the entire solar system as an energy source for ages.

Surya Namaskar strengthens the back muscles and increases the metabolism. It serves as cardiovascular training and brings the circulatory, respiratory, reproductive and digestive systems into balance.

Surya Namaskar preparation guidelines

Surya Namaskar is the most widely practiced sequence in yoga. Keep these preparatory points in mind to practice properly and for maximum benefit.

  1. Before you start practicing surya namaskar, a few rounds of gentle warm-up exercises is a good idea to open up joint and muscle movements. In itself, however, Surya Namaskar is practiced as a warm-up exercise before Asana & Pranayama.
  2. When giving a sun salutation in the morning (ideally), keep your gaze eastward at the sunrise. Run it west in the evening.
  3. With Surya Namaskar, make sure that every body movement (pose) is synchronized with the inhalation and exhalation. Inhale in poses that you stretch and exhale in poses that you bend forward or look down.
  4. If sun salutation is your standalone practice, take enough time to end this practice in a relaxation pose such as shavasana.
  5. Do the first movement of Surya Namaskar at a slow pace. Slowly increase the speed on successive laps.

A set by Surya Namaskar consists of 2 rounds with 12 yoga poses. In the first round, the 4th pose of the sequence (Ashwa Sanchalanasana) is performed by moving the right leg forward, while in the second round Ashwa Sanchalanasana is performed by moving the left leg forward. In this way, 1 set of Surya Namaskar means 24 yoga poses (2 * 12).

Generally, 12 sets of Surya Namaskar are performed at the beginning of a yoga session. In this way, a practitioner performs 288 yoga poses (2 * 12 * 12) in a single sun salutation session.

12 poses by Surya Namaskar

12 poses from Surya Namaskar come in this order;

  1. Stand high in Pranamasana (Prayer posture)
  2. Extend your arms up and back in Hasta Utthanasana (Poses with arms raised)
  3. Slowly lean forward Hastapadasana (Standing forward bend)
  4. Then step back with your right leg Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture)
  5. After that you come in Chaturanga Dandasana (four-bar posture) by stepping back on both legs
  6. Bring your knees, chest, chin down Ashtanga Namaskar (eight limb pose)
  7. Raise your chest Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
  8. Raise your hips and tailbone Adho Mukha Svanasana (dog position facing downwards)
  9. Step forward with your right foot Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture)
  10. Step forward with your left foot and enter Hastapadasana (Standing forward bend)
  11. Extend your arms up and back in Hasta Utthanasana (Poses with arms raised)
  12. Stand high in Pranamasana (Prayer posture).

Surya Namaskar steps

Follow the step-by-step instructions below to practice 12 Surya Namaskar poses with breathing and mantra chanting.

1. Pranamasana (prayer pose)

  • Stand up straight and bring your feet and arms together at your sides.
  • Slowly bend your elbows to join your palms in front of your chest in a namaskar mudra.
  • Close your eyes, relax your entire body, and continue to breathe normally.
  • Focus on the Anahata Chakra and chant "Om Mitraya Namaha".

Services

  • Prayer posture means devotion to the sun and the sun salutation.
  • It calms the mind, develops patience, and relieves stress or anxiety.
  • It activates the anahata chakra and helps balance emotions.

Notice!

  • Spend time practicing Pranamasana without rushing to the other pose as this will evoke the devotion to continue practicing.
  • Remember to keep your eyes closed and greet the sun in your head – the ultimate source of life.

2. Hasta Utthanasana (posture with arms raised)

  • After the deep exhalation, inhale in a prayer position – separate your hands, raise and stretch your arms above your head.
  • Inhale, look up, and bend your body back slightly and push your pelvis forward
  • Keep your arms shoulder width apart.
  • Feel the stretch in the abdomen and the expansion of the lungs.
  • Sing Om Ravaye Namaha while practicing hasta utthanasana.

Services

  • Stretches the arms, stomach, neck and back muscles.
  • Stimulates the Vishuddhi chakra and balances the thyroid and parathyroid glands and regulates the endocrine system.
  • This posture is beneficial for improving digestion.
  • It also relieves back pain, fatigue, and cures mild anxiety.

3. Padahastasana (standing forward bend)

  • Exhale and fold forward from your hips, placing your palms on the floor on either side of your feet.
  • Try to bring your head as close to your knees as possible.
  • The chest rests against the thighs and holds this position.
  • This is practiced while chanting "Om Suryaya Namaha".

Services

  • Padahastasana stretches the spine and makes it supple.
  • It strengthens the thighs, calves and knees.
  • It even relieves anxiety, stress, and headaches.
  • This pose has therapeutic effects on insomnia and osteoporosis.
  • It stimulates the sacral chakra and promotes the creative side of the practitioner and brings joy.
  • It is also beneficial for the digestive and reproductive systems.

Notice!

  • Keep your spine upright as you fold forward.
  • Instead of reaching the floor with the palms of the hands, it is also sufficient to touch the floor with your fingertips.

4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian posture)

  • Inhale, kick back with your right leg and push your foot as far as possible. Put your knee on the floor with your toes pinched.
  • Bend your left knee to place your foot on the floor.
  • Press the palms or fingertips on the floor next to your left foot.
  • Arch your back and tilt your head back, lifting your chin to look up.
  • Here you sing Om Bhanave Namaha.

Services

  • Ashwa Sanchalanasana strengthens the legs and the spine.
  • It increases lung capacity and improves the airways.
  • On an energetic level, it acts on Ajna Chakra and develops brain capacity.
  • It cures constipation, indigestion, and sciatica.

Notice!

  • Internally, focus on the center of the eyebrow.
  • During the pose, the hips are pushed down.
  • The body weight is evenly distributed between both hands, the left foot, the right knee and the toes of the right foot.

5. Chaturanga Dandasana (pose with four limbs)

  • Inhale and pull your left foot back, placing it next to your right.
  • Exhale, roll your toes in and place your hands on the floor. Lower your chest closer to the floor.
  • Balance the entire body on toes and hands.

Services

  • This pose focuses on strengthening the core muscles and strengthening the abdominal muscles.
  • It strengthens the arms, shoulders and wrists.
  • Chaturanga dandasana also helps improve posture as the spinal muscles also gain strength.
  • The core muscles are actively engaged and maintain this posture that helps burn belly fat.

Notice!

  • Keep your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
  • The shoulders must remain relaxed and pulled away from the neck and head.
  • As you lower your torso, align your hips and shoulders in the same plane.

6. Ashtanga Namaskar (eight limb pose)

  • Exhale and lower your knees to the floor, pulling your hips back slightly.
  • Push your chest and chin forward and place them on the floor.
  • Therefore, only the toes, knees, chest, hands and chin touch the ground.
  • The buttocks, hips, and stomach are kept elevated.
  • The singing is Om Pushne Namaha.

Services

  • It strengthens the arms and leg muscles.
  • It stimulates the Manipura Chakra.
  • This posture also alleviates digestive discomfort.

7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  • Inhale, lower your hips, point your toes back, and push your chest forward.
  • Arch your back and roll your shoulders down.
  • Slowly look up as if the cobra is lifting its hood.
  • Chant Om Pushne Namaha.

Services

  • It improves blood circulation.
  • This pose stretches the muscles of your shoulders, chest, back, and legs.
  • It improves the flexibility of the spine.
  • It activates the sacral chakra.
  • This relieves menstrual cramps, back pain, and sciatica.

Notice!

  • Do not lock your elbows while lifting your torso and arching your back.
  • Keep your elbows slightly bent and squeeze backwards.
  • The raised trunk is supported with the help of the arms.
  • Only the thighs and hips remain in contact with the floor.

8.Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)

  • Exhaling, raise your hips and push back to put your heels on the floor and straighten your arms.
  • Lower your head between your arms, forming an inverted V with your legs, arms, and back.
  • Press your palms and heels to the floor and breathe a few times.
  • Chant Om Khagaya Namaha, during this pose

Services

  • It activates the Vishuddhi chakra.
  • This reverse position supplies the brain with oxygenated blood and calms the mind.
  • It also improves posture and helps in increasing height.

9.Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian posture)

  • Inhale to bring the right forward between the hands that bend the knee.
  • At the same time, lower your left knee to touch the floor, tuck your left toe in, and slide your pelvis forward.
  • Tilt your head back to look up, as in pose 4 reciting "Om Adityaya Namaha".

10. Padahastasana (standing forward bend)

  • Exhale, bring your right foot forward and bend forward at your hips.
  • As in Pose 3, bring your palms to the floor next to your feet.
  • Recite the mantra Om Savitre Namaha.

11. Hasta Utthanasana (posture with arms raised)

  • Inhale to lift your torso to stand erect and straighten your arms.
  • Change from Padahastasana to Hasta Utthanasana as described in Pose 2.
  • The mantra for this pose is Om Arkaya Namaha,

12. Pranamasana (prayer pose)

  • Exhale and carefully bring your arms down to connect your palms in front of your chest.
  • Chant "Om Bhaskaraya Namaha".

These 12 poses are repeated again to complete a round with a total of 24 poses. After completing one half as described above, slight deviations appear in Ashwa sanchalanasana as:

  • In position 16 the left foot goes back and the right foot is placed forward on the floor.
  • Similarly, the right foot is stretched back as it is accepted again in pose 16.

Aftercare practice

After completing each round of Surya Namaskar, relax your body and focus on your breath. Stay relaxed until your breath becomes normal. Shavasana must be practiced after completing Surya Namaskar.

Precautions and Contraindications

  • Focus on the breathing pattern with every step.
  • Only practice with expert advice if you have blood pressure problems.
  • Do not practice if you have recently had an operation or a brain haemorrhage.
  • It must be done after colon cleansing and on an empty stomach.
  • Avoid Surya Namaskar after heavy training.
  • Stop using surya namaskar if you experience a fever, acute inflammation, boils, or rashes due to excess toxins in the body.
  • Heart patients need to skip this practice.
  • Do not attempt this practice for hernias or intestinal tuberculosis.

Surya Namaskar benefits

1. Strengthens the muscles

Surya Namaskar consists of various stretching poses that elongate the spine and other muscles of the body. This improves flexibility and strengthens the muscles.

2. Boosts metabolism

The asanas involved in Surya namaskar stimulate the endocrine system, which regulates the flow of hormones. It increases the body's metabolic rate.

3. Improves cardiovascular health

Surya Namaskar also includes inverted poses where the heart is above the head. It gently massages the heart and improves blood circulation throughout the body. This is helpful in controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining blood pressure.

4. Increases the energy level

This practice stimulates all energy chakras from the root to the crown. It balances and aligns the chakras, which provides spiritual benefits. The stimulation of chakras activates Kundalini energy and rises the crown of the head. It improves the energetic level.

5. Offers a toned body

Practicing surya namaskar regularly stretches muscles and helps burn calories. Trimming the layer of fat gives it a toned body and helps in achieving an ideal weight.

6. Balances doshas

By incorporating the correct breathing pattern into posture in Surya, Namaskar helps regulate Vata, Kapha, and Pitta. This is because all five elements are balanced. Finding a balance between the doshas prevents all ailments and strengthens the reproductive, digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems.

7. Psychological benefits

Surya Namaskar has a calming effect on the nervous system. It supplies the brain with fresh oxygen and blood. This brings mental clarity, relieves stress, anxiety and depression.

8. Delays aging

Through the internal improvement of the body on a physical and mental level, all the advantages are also reflected in the external appearance. It rejuvenates the skin, alleviates or delays wrinkles and other signs of aging.

Conclusion

Surya Namaskar is a comprehensive package of health benefits that improve overall health of the body, mind and spirit. There is no other such yoga exercise that is easier, more comfortable for all ages, and benefits all major body systems.

Include Surya Namaskar in your exercise routine to improve your overall health and get all possible benefits.

FAQs on Surya Namaskar

  1. What is the Best Time to Perform Surya Namaskar?

    Surya Namaskar is said to greet the sun, so it is recommended that the best time for this practice be at sunrise. However, if it is not possible to manage the morning hours, it can be done in the evening.

  2. Are Surya Namaskar's poses suitable for all body types?

    Yes, it is suitable for all body types as long as you don't have any medical issues. The pose and the entire exercise can be adjusted at will. There are modifications and variations for children, pregnant women, seniors, and various diseases.

  3. Can Surya Namaskar be practiced without chanting the mantras?

    It is okay to practice surya namaskar without chanting the mantras. Beginners can practice without singing continuously for 4 weeks. Once changes in energy levels are observed, you can easily bring the chanting into practice for the spiritual benefits.

  4. Can women practice surya namaskar during menstruation?

    There are no strict restrictions on practicing surya namaskar during menstruation. However, if there is discomfort or pain during exercise, it will need to be skipped for a few days. You can also decrease the number of laps on the first day of the period and gradually increase them as the days progress.

  5. How many rounds of Surya Namaskar can be practiced in one day?

    12 rounds of Surya Namaskar are considered an ideal exercise. However, beginners can start with 2-4 rounds. It can be increased to a maximum of 108 rounds if it seems appropriate.