Surya Namaskaar has been practiced by people for more than a few millenia! In fact, it is safe to say that it is the oldest exercise in the world still being practiced!

In English we know the practice as Sun Salutation; which is the literal translation of the Indian (Sanskrit language) term. It is interesting to learn that the Sanskrit word ‘Surya’ (meaning the Sun) – literally translates into ‘Giver of Energy‘. This is an indication that Surya Namaskaar is at once an energizing practice.

In the ancient times; people would practice Surya Namaskaar at sunrise; the practice would be done facing up to the sun. In fact, it started of as an exercise in solar worship. The Yogis of yore refined the practice into something resembling the modern day practice with a sequence of 12 postures. For the Yogis; it became a staple practice to loosen the limbs in the mornings, and also as a preparation and warm-up for the other Asanas and Pranayam practices they would undertake. Whilst in the modern times; we use it primarily as a physical practice – the ancient yogis would even chant various mantras with each pose to further enhance the benefits. In fact the various postures in Surya Namaskaar helped in opening and activating each of the 7 Chakras (energy centers) in the human body.

How-To-Do-Surya-Namaskar

BENEFITS of SURYA NAMASKAAR:

Apart from those mentioned above; Surya Namaskaar improves the flexibility of the body and spine especially. Also the ligaments and joints are made more flexible.

The practice benefits the Cardio-vascular system by improving the circulation. When a lot of rounds (upto 100) are practiced the heart gets a very good work-out. The Digestive and Nervous systems improve through the practice.

Our Endocrine system that controls the secretions of vsrious hormones which play a crucial role in out health and moods; is kept functioning in perfet order through practicing Sun Salutations. (Please note that the names of poses will vary depending of which school/ brand of yoga you are learning – it means very little compared to the actual practice itself). Each posture has a corresponding chant that is actually a salutation to the sun by calling its different names. It is not necessary to practice the chants – and you will still get all the physical benefits of the practice.

 

How to practice Surya-Namaskaar? The practice involves 12 poses – alternately stretching the Spine backwards and forwards; and with alternate Inhale nad Exhale instructions (except for 1 pose).

 

1) Namaskaarasana: Stand straight with your hands in a namaste; at the sternum (center of chest)   {Chant: Om mitrāya namaḥ -> Salutations to the ‘Friend of All’}

 

 

2) Utthita Namaskaarasana (Raised Namskara): INHALE and raise both arms together in a namaste; so that the Solar Plexus (nerve center bedind the navel area) is stretched and hence activated. Works on the Manipura Chakra (also solar plexus)

 

3) Padahastasana (Hand-to-foot pose): EXHALE and pulling your stomach inside bend down so that your hands are beside your feet (palms flat on the ground if possible). Works on the Anahata Chakra (can be related to the Thymus gland)                    {Chant: Om suryaya namaḥ -> Salutations to the ‘Giver of Energy’ – the most popular Surya Namaskaar chant}

4) Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Horse-stride pose): INHALE and stretch your right leg back; while arching yourself backwards and stretching your throat upwards. Works on the Vishuddhi chakra (also thyroid gland)

 

5) Santolanasana (Inner equanimity or Plank pose): EXHALE and hold yourself on your palms and feet. See that your chin is in front of your finger-tips)

 

 

6) Ashtanga Namaskaarasana (Eight-point prostration pose): HOLD your breath outside (since you have exhaled in the previous pose) and drop you knees, chest and chin to the floor. Works on the Mooladhara chakra (also sexual gland)

 

7) Bhujangasana (Cobra pose): INHALE and raise your upper body upwards while looking up. Works on the Swadhistana chakra (also adrenal gland).

 

 

8) Parvatasana (Mountain pose): EXHALE and raise your hips upwards so that you resemble a mountain. The palms and feet are on the floor. Works on Ajna chakra (pituitary gland)

 

P0stures 9 – 12 are repetitions of poses 4 – 1.

9) Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Horse-stride pose): INHALE and stretch your left leg front placing it between your palms; while arching yourself backwards and stretching your throat upwards. Works on the Vishuddhi chakra (also thyroid gland)

10) Padahastasana (Hand-to-foot pose): EXHALE and bring your right leg to join your left leg. so that your hands are beside your feet (palms flat on the ground if possible). Works on the Anahata Chakra (can be related to the Thymus gland)

11) Utthita Namaskaarasana (Raised Namskara): INHALE and raise both arms together in a namaste; so that the Solar Plexus (nerve center bedind the navel area) is stretched and hence activated. Works on the Manipura Chakra (also solar plexus)

12) Namaskaarasana: Stand straight with your hands in a namaste; at the sternum (center of chest)

Once you have finished 1 round; practice the 2nd round with the Right leg staying in front this time – thus alternating the leg movement back and forth each round. In most systems both these rounds together constitute 1 single round.

For a long time I use do to practice 100 rounds every morning; and it’s a great exercise! All the best with your Surya Namaskaar practice. In a week’s time you’ll find that this is really the ‘best way to start your day!’