SURYA NAMASKAR is a complete Sadhana (spiritual practice) in itself for it includes asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation techniques. 

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 ‘Beautiful Light‘. This is an indication that Surya Namaskar 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. 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. In fact the various postures in Surya Namaskaar helped in energizing each of the 7 Chakras (energy centers) in the human body.

How to practice Surya-Namaskaar? The practice involves 12 poses – alternately stretching the Spine backwards and forwards; and with alternate Inhale and Exhale instructions. Also, each posture has a chant associated with it – these are all different Sanskrit names of the Sun.

Pranamasana Surya namaskar sun salutation

Pranamasana

 

Position 1–Pranamasana (prayer pose)

 “Om Mitraya Namah”
 Keep the eyes closed and remain standing upright with the feet together and palms together in front of your    chest in namaskara mudra.
 Mentally offering homage to the sun, the source of energy.
 Relax the whole body.
 Benefits: This pose establishes a state of concentration and calmness in preparation of the practice to  be performed.
Hasta Uttanasana surya namaskar sun salutation

Hasta Uttanasana

 

Position 2–Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose)
“Om Ravaye Namah” 
Raise the hands and stretch both arms above the head, maintaining the namaste.
Extend your elbows, keeping your arms locking your ears.
Bend the head, arms and upper trunk slightly backward.
Padahastasana surya namaskar sun salutation

Padahastasana

 

Position 3–Padhastasana (hand to foot pose)
“Om Suryaya Namah”
Bend forward from the hips until the fingers or palms of the hands touch the floor on either side of the feet.
Bring the forehead as close to the knees as is comfortable, keeping the knees straight.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana Surya namaskar sun salutation

Ashwa Sanchalanasana

 

Position 4–Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose)
 “Om Bhanave Namah”
Place the hands on the floor besides the feet.
Stretch the right leg back as far as is comfortable and grasp the floor with the toes.
At the same time,bend the left knee, keeping the left foot on the floor at the same position.
Head should be tilted backward, the back arched.
Santolanasana surya namaskar sun salutation

Santolanasana

Position 5–Santolanasana (inner equanimity pose)

“Om Khagaya Namah”

Keep the hands and right foot still, and take the left foot back besides the right foot so that the
Keep the body parallel to the floor by strengthening the abs muscles.
The legs and arms straighten and the heels come down towards the floor.
Bring the head and shoulders towards the knees.
Ashtanga Namaskar Surya namaskar sun salutation

Ashtanga Namaskar

Position 6–Ashtanga Namaskara (salute with eight points)

“Om Pushne Namah”

Lower the knees, chest and chin to the floor simultaneously.
The feet will come up on to the toes.
Only the knees, palms, chest and chin should touch the floor.
The buttocks, hips and abdomen should be raised.
Bhujangasana Surya namaskar sun salutation

Bhujangasana

 

Position 7–Bhujangasana (cobra pose )
“Om Hiranyagarbhaya Namah”
 
Slide the chest forward and raise first the head, the shoulders, then, straightening the elbows, arch the back into the cobra pose.
This will allow the buttocks and hips to the floor.
Bend the head back, thighs and hips will remain on the floor.
Parvatasana surya namaskar sun salutation

Parvatasana

Position 8– Parvatasana ( moutain pose )
“Om Marichaye Namah”
From bhujangasana assume parvatasana.
Keep the arms and legs straight, grip the floor with the toes and use the strength of the arms to raise the buttocks and lower the heels to the floor.
Bring the head and shoulders towards the knees.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana Surya namaskar sun salutation

Ashwa Sanchalanasana

 

Position 9– Ashwa Sanchalanasana ( equestrian pose )
“Om Adityaya Namah”
Keep the palms flat on the floor and the left foot in place.
Bring the right leg and bring the right foot forward between the hands.
Tilt the head backward and arch the back.
Padahastasana surya namaskar sun salutation

Padahastasana

 

Position 10–Padahastasana ( hand to foot pose )
“Om Savitre Namah”
Bring the left foot forward next to the right foot.
Straighten both legs.
Bring the forehead as close to the knees as possible
Hasta Uttanasana surya namaskar sun salutation

Hasta Uttanasana

 

Position 11–Hasta Utthanasana ( raised arms pose )
“Om Arkaya Namah”
Raise the torso and stretch the arms above your head.
Bend the head, arms and upper trunk backward slightly.
Pranamasana Surya namaskar sun salutation

Pranamasana

 

Position 12 — Pranamasana (prayer pose )
“Om Bhaskaraya Namah” 
Bring the palms in front of the chest.

BENEFITS of SURYA NAMASKAAR:

Surya Namaskaar improves the flexibility of the body and spine especially. Also the ligaments and joints are made more flexible.

It stimulates and balance all the systems of the body, including the reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. When a lot of rounds are practiced the heart gets a very good work-out.

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.

Also, it is not necessary to practice the chants – and you will still get all the physical benefits of the practice.

(Please note that the names of poses may vary depending of which school of yoga you are learning – it means very little compared to the actual practice itself).

So, here’s perhaps the best way to start your morning!