The Surya Namaskar or the sun salutation is one of the most common yogic kriyas that is practiced in yoga. Though it is a basic practice it holds great significance in the yoga world. It is a prayer of gratitude for the sun and is also a great stimulator of the whole body. Moreover, an intensive workout is done in a small amount of time and is equivalent to doing 288 yoga poses. Read on to know more about Surya Namaskar and its many benefits
Sun Salutation – What is Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar is the Sanskrit name for a specific sequence of twelve yoga poses, also known as a Sun Salutation. The term is derived from two Sanskrit roots; surya, meaning "sun" and namaskar meaning "greetings" or "salutations". The sun holds a lot of significance in the Hindu religion. This practice is now considered beneficial for the mind, body, and soul also Surya Namaskar is a full-body workout that helps to reap the benefits of the sun apart from showing gratitude through the 12 different postures.
What is the best time to perform Surya Namaskar?
The best time to practice Surya Namaskar is in the morning when the sun rises (ideally 4-7 AM). Performing Surya Namaskar in the morning benefits refreshing the mind and body. The Surya namaskar benefits are at its highest when done early in the morning when the sun rises. By performing this in the morning, it helps to refresh the mind and body. It prepares the body for the day ahead with renewed energy. Another reason for doing it in the morning by Yogis was that the heat is less intense and thus all the asanas can be done easily. If you are unable to do it in the morning, it can be done in the evening too but ensure that you do it on an empty stomach.
What are 12 steps of Surya Namaskar?
Here are the 12 steps or postures of Surya Namaskar are as follows:
1. Pranamasana, Prayer Pose
This is the first of the 12 Surya Namaskar poses. This is done as a gesture of greeting and respect to the sun. It is the 'Namaste' that the people do in India as a way to greet. To do this:
- Stand at the edge of the mat, keeping both your feet together. The body weight should be equally placed on both feet.
- Relax your shoulders, keep the back straight, shoulders relaxed, and hands to the side of the body.
- Breathe in and lift your hands from the sides and bring the palms together in front of the chest exhaling. Stand in prayer position.
Benefits of Pranamasana: Doing this pose has many benefits. It includes a better mind and body balance, good posture, opens the heart chakra, stretches the muscles, helps in digestion, and relaxes the mind and soul.
2. Hasta Uttanasana, Raised Arms Pose
The next pose in the Surya namaskar yoga is the raised arms pose. To do this pose from the first asana:
- Stand erect with your back straight.
- Now bend slightly backwards straightening the spine and keeping your arms up to the sky, and lookup.
- The body should be balanced keeping the feet firmly on the ground.
Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana: This asana is good for people who have backache, fatigue, and anxiety. It is also good for people who have digestion problems and for those suffering from asthma.
3. Pada Hastasana, Standing Forward Bend Pose
This is the third pose and is performed as below:
- Bend forward to touch your toes with your fingers, keep the knee straight or slightly bent.
- Press the heels into the ground so that the bodyweight is evenly distributed.
- If you are unable to touch your toes with your fingers, bend your knees while keeping the spine straight.
Benefits of Pada Hastasana: This is a great asana for those having osteoporosis. It strengthens the knees and thighs. Stretches the hamstring, hips, and calves muscles and is a good yoga for lower back pain. It is a good exercise for those suffering from headaches, anxiety, and stress.
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana, Lunge Pose
Move into the lunge pose from padahastasana.
- Push the right leg behind and breathe in.
- The left knee should touch the floor and bend it at 90 degrees.
- The right knee should be towards the right chest
- The hands should be on the floor and the neck tilted back
- The body should be balanced on the toes so that the weight is distributed evenly.
- The body should be balanced on the toes so that the weight is distributed evenly.
Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana: It strengthens the spine and improves lung capacity. It is also good for the digestive system, liver, and kidney.
5. Dandasana, Plank Pose
From the previous pose move into the plank pose.
- Take a deep breath and stretch the left leg back.
- Place both your hands under the shoulders.
- Keep your body parallel to the ground.
Benefits of Dandasana: It preps the body for the arm balance asanas. It tones the legs, arms, and wrist. It strengthens the back and the spine muscles and stretches the hamstring. It is a good pose for those who have blood sugar and want to reduce it.
6. Astanga Namaskara, Eight Limbed Pose
It is a salutation using 8 parts.
- Exhale and bring the knees to the floor.
- Place your chin on the floor keeping the hips in the air.
- The hands, knees, chest, and chin have to be on the ground and the hips in the air.
Benefits of Astanga Namaskara: It helps to improve the flexibility of the spine. It reduces the shoulder and neck pressure by releasing the tension in it. It is also good for the shoulders and legs.
7. Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose
In this pose:
- The Midsection and the legs are on the ground.
- The palms should be next to the chest.
- Breathe in and raise the upper body using the hands.
- The head and trunk should resemble a cobra with a raised hood.
Benefits of Bhujangasana: If you are looking for a weight loss yoga pose, then the cobra pose is the best. It stretches the abdomen muscles and leads to a flat belly.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward Dog Pose
Move from the previous pose to this by:
- Placing the heels on the ground and the palms on the floor
- Keeping the hips elevated upwards making an inverted V.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana: It has many benefits like calming the nerves and relieving stress to boost blood circulation. It is also a good pose for women who have back pain, headaches, or menopause.
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana, High Lunge Pose
To perform this:
- Breathe in and take the right foot forward. The foot should be between the hands and the knee bent.
- Bring the left knee down to the ground with the leg stretched behind.
- Press the hips and lookup
10. Pada Hastasana, Standing Forward Bend
- Breathe in and bring both the feet together.
- Keep the position of the hand the same as before and exhale slowly.
- Exhale and bend the torso to go to this pose.
11. Uttana Hastasana, Raised Arms pose
- The hands should be raised above and the spine stretched.
- The palms should be on the ground and knees bent.
- Look towards the ceiling and the biceps should be next to the ears as in the second asana.
12. Pranamasana, Prayer Pose
This is the last of the Surya namaskar steps.
- Breathe out and stand in a relaxed manner.
- Hold the palms in front of the chest lowering the arms. This completes the Surya namaskar.
Surya Namaskara is yoga for beginners and doing as many repetitions is essential to get maximum advantage. Moreover, practice it regularly to get all the benefits of Surya namaskar including weight loss, better mental health, improved blood circulation, and a boost in overall health.
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