Doing Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation sequence in the early morning hours is a great way to start the day. However, if you miss the morning, you can also do it anytime before sunset but should always be done on an empty stomach.
Surya Namaskar is a sequence of 12 yoga poses that flow one into the other with controlled and rhythmic breathing. Each step of Surya Namaskar is designed to have a specific benefit to the body. The full sequence boosts our cardiovascular health, improves our blood circulation, can help destress and detox our body while offering flexibility and strength.
The original Surya Namaskar flow is a set of 12 Asanas, the first 5 are repeated at the end in the reverse order and there are two in the middle( 5+2+5 = 12 steps).
Asana name : Sun Salutation
Sanskrit name : Surya Namaskar
Steps of Surya Namaskar
Position 1 : Prayer pose
- First, stand with your feet together and fold your both palms in front of your chest (like Namaskar).
- Exhale at this pose, inhaling as you move into the position 2.
Position 2: Upward stretch
- After that, Raise your arms and slowly bend over your head and shoulders with the palms touching each other and biceps touching your ears. Stretch your abdomen as much as possible and lean backward slightly ( stretch up to your level of comfort without excessive strain)
- Inhale at this pose, exhaling as you move in position 3.
Position 3: Forward fold
- In this position, you have to Bend forward and place your palms on the side of your feet. Try touching your knee with forehead and try to touch your feet with your palms.
- Exhale at this pose, inhaling as you move in position 4.
Position 4: Equestrian pose
- Take your right leg first one step back and place the other leg in the front with palms firm on the ground. Raise your head. Inhale at this pose, exhaling as you move in position 5.
Position 5: Downward dog pose
- Now bring your left leg (that was in front) back next to right one and push with both hands and feet, thrusting the hips upwards in a dog stretch position, like an inverted 'v' stretching both at the front and rear ends.
- Exhale at this pose, inhaling as you move in position 6.
Position 6: Eight point prayer pose
- After that, Lower your knees, chest, forehead and chin with your palms slowly on the ground next to your chest and elbows bent upwards. Look straight ahead.
- Hold your breath here, inhaling as you move into position 7.
Position 7: Cobra pose
- Keeping your hips at ground level, raise your upper body. Look upwards and keep your elbows slight bent by the sides of your body. If you have a very flexible spine, you may be able to straighten your elbows without lifting your hips off the ground.
- Inhale at this pose, exhaling as you move in position 8.
Position 8: Downward dog pose ( repeat of position 5)
- Take your hips up and bring your head to the floor with eyes on the navel and heel on the floor. This position will exactly look like an inverted ‘V’. Exhale at this pose, inhaling as you move in position 9.
Position 9: Equestrian pose ( repeat of position 4)
- Get your right leg back between your hands, lowering your knee, keeping the left leg stretched at the rear. Raise your head.
- Inhale at this pose, exhaling as you move into position 10.
Position 10: Forward fold( repeat of position 3)
- Get your left leg forward with a lunge, to join your right leg, bend forward, keeping your knees straight and place your palms on the side of your feet. Try to touch your knee with forehead and try to touch your feet with your palms.
- Exhale at this pose, inhaling as you move into position 11.
Position 11: Upward stretch
- Now, coming up, slowly stretch over your head and shoulders with the palms touching each other, or facing upwards and biceps touching your ears. Stretch your abdomen as much as possible and lean backward slightly (if you are a beginner, stretch up to your level of comfort)
- Inhale at this pose, exhaling as you move into the last position 12.
Position 12: Prayer pose( same as step 1)
- Bring your hands down, palms together in prayer position, in front of your chest.
- Exhale deeply at this pose.
Now, repeat the steps but this time at position 3, the Equestrian pose, move the left leg back. This will complete one set.
Note: Try and do atleast 3 sets( right and left) at a comfortable pace, increasing the sets in multiples of 3 once you are fairly comfortable doing 3 sets, whether it takes you a week or a month or more, to increase.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
Every step of Surya Namaskar has its own benefit to your health.
- Surya Namaskar promotes balance, improves digestion.
- Stretches your arms and shoulder muscles, also toning your spine and promoting flexibility in the back and hips.
- Exercises spine, strengthens hand and wrist muscles.
- It helps in blood circulation, tones abdominal tracts, stretches back and leg muscles.
- Stimulates spinal nerves and the lymphatic system.
- Sun Salutation gives strength to leg and arm muscles, increases flexibility in neck and shoulder areas.
- Stretches arms, shoulder, neck and back muscles, exercises back muscles, releases tension in neck and shoulder.
- Sun Salutation also benefits your Endocrine system and enables the various endocrinal glands to function properly. These include the thyroid, parathyroid, and pituitary glands as well as the adrenal gland, testes, and ovaries.
- It is an excellent way to manage stress and alleviate depression as it helps in balancing the energies through proper circulation.
- Surya Namaskar helps you to concentrate as you go through the flow, keep the breathing sequence
As it can be seen from the benefits above, it is a very holistic and complete yoga flow and the more sets you do, the better you get at it. It helps burn calories quickly and for those suffering from obesity, this is one of the best and easy to do flows to do.
Please note: Always consult your physician before you do Yoga asana practices and especially if you are suffering from any physical conditions like heart, back, joint or other medical issues, or recent surgeries.