“Sun salutation can energise and warm you,
even on the darkest, coldestwinter day..”– Carol Krucoff
Everyone enjoys watching the sunrise, the calmness in the surrounding with a hint of chillness that follows, and then as you see the sun rising from the horizon with all beautiful colours around it, it makes you realize the beauty of the sun.
Surya namaskar has a way for you to embrace that beauty and the feeling that you get while watching the sunrise.
However, we first need to know Surya namaskar properly and its steps and benefits to understand it better.
The significance of Surya namaskar in the world of yoga is quite daunting. Surya namaskar is one of the practices in yoga, a form of yoga that comprises of 12 graceful asanas/ poses.
Its ability to affect our health and mind has caught the eyes of many people worldwide. Surya namaskar is a form of paying gratitude to the almighty sun.
Apart from being an excellent form of intense workout, Surya namaskar also has much other significant contribution towards one’s health, mind, and the easiest way of balancing them righteously. It has the power to affect you spiritually as well as physically.
In this article, we will decode various aspects of Surya Namaskar from the exact Surya namaskar to all the benefits it has in store for us.
We will be going through Surya namaskar their steps and benefits in detail.
So, let’s start with a brief introduction of
- WHAT IS SURYA NAMASKAR?
- HISTORY OF SURYA NAMASKAR
- 12 POSES OF SURYA NAMASKAR
- Step 1. PRANAMASANA (The prayer pose)
- Step 2. HASTAUTTANASANA (Raised arms pose)
- Step 3. HASTAPADASANA (Standing forward bend pose)
- Step 4. ASHWA SAN-CHALAN-ASANA (Lunge pose)
- Step 5. DANDASANA (Plank Pose)
- Step 6. ASHTANGA NAMASKARA(Eight Limbed Pose)
- Step 7. BHUJANGASANA (The Cobra Pose)
- Step 8. ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
- Step 9: ASHWA SAN-CHALAN-ASANA (Lunge pose)
- Step 10. HASTAPADASANA (Standing forward bend pose)
- Step 11. HASTAUTTANASANA(Raised arms pose)
- Step 12. PRANAMASANA(The prayer pose)
- BENEFITS OF SURYA NAMASKAR
- BENEFITS OF SURYA NAMASKAR FOR WOMEN
- TIPS FOR THE BEGINNERS (Surya Namaskar for beginners)
- CONCLUDING STATEMENT
- COMMON FAQ QUESTIONERS
WHAT IS SURYA NAMASKAR?
In the Sanskrit literature, the word “Surya” refers to the sun whereas the word “namaskar” simply means “salutation“. Thus when translated in simple terms (English), it is also referred to as sun-salutation. Traditionally it is a form of yoga, which consists of 12 poses along with few mantras. Although the practice has been in this world for a long time and there are variations to the exercise, but the fundamental nature and purpose of Surya namaskar remains the same.
It is ideally done during the morning, which makes sense cause it is all about greeting the sun and aligning yourself with the movements of the sun itself. Thus, it is suggested to be followed during the daytime, although there are no hard and fast rules. However, the entire purpose of Surya namaskar becomes null and void if it is followed sometime else in the absence of the sun.
The whole concept of Surya namaskar revolves around maintaining one’s connection between the body and mind through a sequential flow of energy via the asanas. There were sayings about the asanas to be essential to activate the so-called “Manipura Chakra,” otherwise known as the navel area, also referred to as the second brain of our body; these were more profoundly claimed by the ancient philosopher, hermits, and yogis.
The postures in the Surya asana do not only increase ones flexibility in the body but also helps to channel the energy within us to achieve something more significant such as internal and spiritual knowledge. There are certain health benefits that one gets along the way, which will be mentioned in the article below. The steps and benefits of surya namaskar will be in detailed form ahead in the article
HISTORY OF SURYA NAMASKAR
Historically the importance of the sun is quite vast. The sun has always been a symbol of greatness and power. In earlier days, many Hindu and few other religions worshiped the sun as a deity, idolized as the god that has no discrimination of any kind.
The power of the sun to create and destroy life made it all sacred and worship-worthy. It was considered the existence of the solar system, and the earth’s life is due to the sun’s power and light.
In fact the Hindu Vedas defines and denotes Surya as a god who can execute all the darkness, evil and diseases,. Hindu mythology seeks significantly of the sun holding the centric position. This culture of faith and worship for Surya/sun made people gain the power to devour themselves to the sun’s greatness.
The originality of the Surya namaskar is quite contradicting in today’s world. It is a bit blurred to the scholars as few people believe its origin to be during the pre –Vedic and Vedic periods, which is at least about 2500 years ago, where it was performed as rituals with chanting of mantras and provide an offering to the sun with water and food. Whereas the modern techniques are more from the Raja of Aundh
Sun is the primary source of light and life on earth. Its power to create life has been a boon to us; for the Hindus, the sun’s energy and its existence made them worship them in the form of yoga, where they would greet the sun and thank him for his divinity.
The ancient yogis and hermits had their way to do the same for other natural embody such as rives, mountains, planets, and even the moon.
Now that we know the basics of what is Surya Namaskar and its history let’s see how to do Surya namaskar after all
12 POSES OF SURYA NAMASKAR
The practices of Surya Namaskar have evolved throughout generations and years, as a result of which different variations have developed. So let’s dive into surya namaskar steps and benefits.
Traditionally the poses that make up the Surya Namaskar are:
Step 1. PRANAMASANA (The prayer pose)
- This is the simple standing pose with both your feet together.
- You should relax while doing the pose as it is the very first pose, and expanding your chest and relaxing your shoulders would help you feel calm and composed.
- This pose is a way of greeting the sun, by a “namaskar”(the praying pose).
Step 2. HASTAUTTANASANA (Raised arms pose)
- This pose helps you start with the routine by assisting you in stretching your muscles and body before going into the vigorous asanas that follow.
- Breathing throughout the asanas is important, so consider a steady pace of breathing in and out while doing the poses.
- This pose allows you to stretch our core muscles and the spine.
Step 3. HASTAPADASANA (Standing forward bend pose)
- It is also called the hand to foot pose.
- It involves slowly exhaling and bending down from your waist with your spine erect and touching your feet/ floor beside your feet.
- If you feel too much of stretch that you can’t bear, its ok to bend the keens little, until you feel comfortable.
- We are supposed to stay in this position for a while, without moving much of your body or hand.
Step 4. ASHWA SAN-CHALAN-ASANA (Lunge pose)
- This involves bringing in one of your leg forward and placing it just between your palms, while the other is to be pushed back.
- This gives a stretch in the tight muscles, especially the inner thigh.
Step 5. DANDASANA (Plank Pose)
- From step four you need to directly come to step 5 without getting up, it should be in a flow
- Slowing bringing the leg back, that was in the font beside your other leg.
- Your arms on the floor, exactly perpendicular.
- This strengthens your arms and stomach.
Step 6. ASHTANGA NAMASKARA(Eight Limbed Pose)
- The entire idea of this pose is to give salutation to the sun using all our high points/ the eight points.
- After the fifth pose, you gently need to bring your keens down to the floor and exhale.
- Slowly rest your chin on the floor and start taking your hips up, suspending it in the air.
- In a nutshell, your two hands, two feet, chin, knees, and your chest will be on the floor touching it (the eight parts/limbs of the body), while your hips should be a bit high in the air.
Step 7. BHUJANGASANA (The Cobra Pose)
- Now from the previous step, slowly slide forward to let your hips lie on the ground.
- Raise your chest and head up Into the cobra pose, looking upon the celling or air.
- Ensure you are stretching yourself as much as possible, positioning your palm beside your chest on the ground.
- Remember to inhale and exhale gently throughout the process.
Step 8. ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
- Keep your hands and feet at the place where they are, slowly start lifting your hips and make an inverted V shape.
- It helps in relaxing your back and parts of your body.
After Step 8 all we do is go in the reverse order starting from step 4 to step 1 once again; thus the steps follow as
Step 9: ASHWA SAN-CHALAN-ASANA (Lunge pose)
- Follow the same step, as told before.
- Do the entire process with the same leg forward this time as well.
Step 10. HASTAPADASANA (Standing forward bend pose)
- Follow the same process as followed in Step 3.
Step 11. HASTAUTTANASANA(Raised arms pose)
Step 12. PRANAMASANA(The prayer pose)
- Exhale and come back to the standing position.
- Try to relax as much as possible, observe your breathing rate, and start to have some control over it.
These 12 poses make up the first set of the Surya namaskar complete. Complete the entire set once again with the other foot forward this time in step 4. Two sets of the 12 poses make one round of the Surya namaskar complete.
To gain the optimum benefits of this yoga practice, try and do it every day in the morning, the benefits of doing yoga in the morning was found to be way more as compared to any other time.
BENEFITS OF SURYA NAMASKAR
IMPROVES BODY’s FLEXIBILITY
Any form of yoga would help you get back in shape and increase the flexibility of your body.
The body undergoes so much of bending and stretching in the process of Surya namaskar that the joints and muscles get all toned up and flexible.
BENEFITS OF SURYA NAMASKAR FOR WEIGHT LOSS
If you are into losing some pounds without actually getting involved in vigorous routines, then Surya Namaskar will help, you find a way to your weight loss goal.
The cardiovascular system of your body works out during the entire yoga process of Surya namaskar, thereby increasing blood circulation and heat production, which indirectly helps us to lose weight.
BENEFITS OF SURYA NAMASKAR FOR HEALTHY SKIN AND HAIR
As mentioned earlier, the blood circulation in your body starts to increase, which helps in the generation of new cells and healthy inflow of positive energy in your body.
This helps in maintain the glowy skin and hair. The blood circulation helps in preventing wrinkles on your face, neck, and keeps your hair and skin radiant as ever.
HELPS IN FIGHTING CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES
The continuous flow of controlled air helps to generate a healthy influx and outflux of air in the lungs, thus maintaining the oxygen in the blood. Thereby more oxygen is transported throughout even in the heart, getting rid of other toxic elements on the way
Description : Involving kids to do surya namaskar can help in increasing their concentration .
The asanas used in the Surya namaskar make you maintain a balance in your body and align your body with your mind. Thus helps to increase one’s awareness and concentration.
These practices are said to be followed by the students. Surya namaskar for students helps in concentrating on their work.
HELP IN PROMOTING CALMNESS
As Surya Namaskar has an effect on the brain as well as blood circulation, there are certain positive mood enhancement chemicals that our body can produce. These molecules are produced at a higher rate when asanas are done regularly.
BENEFITS OF SURYA NAMASKAR FOR WOMEN
In general, women can benefit in many ways, apart from getting rid of dull skin and hair; there are certain vital benefits that women can achieve with the help of Surya namaskar . Stating out few of them:
- Regular menstrual cycle
- Stable emotions and mood swings
- Helps fighting PCOD 
Surya Namaskar, in general, helps to fight the anxiety within us, there are other benefits of yoga that one can benefit due to the asanas practiced like: getting rid of Insomnia, and toxins in our body.
Despite all the benefits stated above, there are few disadvantages of Surya Namaskar or rather downfalls in particular cases like:
- Even though the entire process of Surya namaskar is beneficial for one’s health, but in some instances like people with specific disabilities, it is suggested to get some advice regarding the same, there can be certain poses that might be challenging for you. Try to know your capabilities and kindly do not overdo things.
- People especially having severe back pain, high blood pressure, arthritis, and other injuries, might want to take a step back. If you’re going to do Surya namaskar, go get a trainer/expert for the same or try to start at a slow pace.
- It is, in general, advised not to put much strain on yourself you one is pregnant or during periods. Thus, Surya namaskar during pregnancy and periods are said to be avoided.
TIPS FOR THE BEGINNERS (Surya Namaskar for beginners)
Since many of you might be new to yoga in general, there are specific points that you have to keep in mind if you want to successfully complete the entire process of Surya namaskar regularly.
The power of breathing
- During any yoga practice, one needs to follow a pattern of breathing that is advices by the expert yogis. It enhances your yoga practices and helps to avail of all the benefits of Surya Namaskar to the fullest.
Thus if you find the process difficult to follow and do not know the breathing techniques, then kindly get some help from the experts.
Skipping some asana/poses
- It is quite natural for a beginner to get tired quickly or to not go through all the poses as suggested; thus, it is absolutely fine to skip certain challenging poses like that of Hasta Uttanasana.
Even though it is not advisable to break the cycle and the flow of energy of the Surya asanas, but if you fell if too much tricky, start by a slow process, and then once you get comfortable to continue in a normal flow.
Warm-ups and relaxation
- Both warming up before starting the exercise and relaxing your body after the namaskar is essential for your body. One helps to give you gear up so that you can continue the process properly without restrictions, another calms down your heart rate and body, making you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Complete the cycle
- The entire Surya namaskar is made in a cycle sequential form to help you take the high road and bring you back to the main road. Thus, you must complete the cycle without any break.
- Yes, if you find it too difficult, then you need not put a strain on your body, but to complete it once you get used to it.
Improper alignment and positioning
- All the poses in the Surya namaskar have specific aligning and positions to be followed. It is important to understand these because improper alignment may cause injury to the body and distress.
Surya namaskar is considered to be one of the primary and essential practices of yoga, and its significance in the world of yoga is commendable. Thus, they are advised to be followed by everyone as it hardly takes time to perform it. In your busy schedule, if you want to stay mentally and physically fit, you can surely try Surya namaskar, it will generate the flow of energy within you that you might be lacking.
The key elements to unlock the benefits of Surya namaskar are concentration, focus, determination, and consistency. With all these, you can easily adhere to the benefits that Surya Namaskar has in hold for you. This article was a portrait in a way to seek out the curious people out there; it should not be taken as professional advice.
COMMON FAQ QUESTIONERS
How many Surya namaskar should I do?
It totally depends on what level you are of the practice: you are a beginner and have not done any physical activity lately, and then you might take it slow and do the cycle 4-6 times each comprises of 12 poses.
And if you want to avail of the full benefits of the Surya Namaskar, then you need to do at least 10 styles of it. However, slowly build up the pace.
How long will it take to see the difference?
It differs from person to person. If you do it regularly, you can see the difference in your mind as well as your physical status in just a week; that is if you follow it religiously and dedicatedly.
When is the best time to do Surya namaskar?
The name itself defines the question; it is advisable to do it early morning or during sunset, in an empty stomach. The entire idea of Surya namaskar is not only the physical exercise but also surrendering yourself to the sun, the sun is known as the light and life-giver. Thus, it has a spiritual aspect to it as well.
However, if you find it difficult for you to find time in the morning, you can do any other time of the day but on an empty stomach.