Suryanamaskar (Sun salutation) is a type of Yoga practice comprising 12 different Yoga asanas performed in repetition with one another. All the asanas of the Suryanamaskar are interrelated, making it easy to move gracefully from one pose to another. Performing one complete Suryanamaskar involves standing up, going into the downward dog pose, squatting, and bending backward. It is a great way to strengthen and tone the muscles and give more flexibility to the body.
Performing Suryanamaskar has a beneficial effect on several organs and systems of the human body. Each step of the Suryanamaskar positively impacts the mind and body of the person who practices it.
Let us see what fantastic health benefits the practice of Suryanamaskar will help us to achieve.
Enhanced Blood Circulation
Oxygen is the fuel that drives our body, and blood is the carrier of oxygen. Suryanamaskar involves stretching the limbs and core, which helps activate the blood vessels’ muscles. Active blood vessels help to improve blood circulation and to increase the oxygen-transporting capacity of the blood.
Performing Suryanamaskar regularly at a moderate pace maintains a steady heart rate. It also helps tone the heart muscles, the muscles of the coronary arteries and regulates the functioning of the valves that control the blood flow within the heart. People who perform Suryanamaskar tend to be physically fit and have a healthy cardiac system.
Every step of the Surya Namaskar requires the core to be well engaged. The abdominal muscles, organs, and intestines get adequately stretched and squeezed during each asana of the Surya Namaskar. People suffering from constipation, bloating, IBS or acid peptic reflux are likely to benefit from the regular practice of Surya Namaskar.
The Suryanamaskar poses, like Bhujangasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana, soothe irritated nerves. The Surya Namaskar is beneficial in protecting the nerves from getting fatigued quickly and losing their functionality. Performing Surya Namaskar regularly helps restore nervous strength and leaves you feeling fresh and energetic.
The incidents of experiencing anxiety, depression, or mood swings are increasing alarmingly, thanks to the competitive life we lead. Through its neuroprotective action, Surya Namaskar helps to achieve a state of mental calm. Regular practice of Suryanamaskar stimulates the release of serotonin and endorphins, which are “feel-good” hormones. Adequate levels of these two hormones help maintain a calm and positive attitude.
Surya Namaskar has something for everyone. People of all age groups may practice Suryanamaskar and seek its various health benefits.
The Weight Loss Myth
Many people nurture a common misconception that Yoga is not helpful in weight loss. Contrary to popular belief, regular practice of Yoga is an excellent way of shedding those extra pounds.
Surya Namaskar, in particular, plays a pivotal role in accelerating fat loss, thereby paving the way towards reaching one’s ideal weight range. As you all have read in the earlier section of this blog, Surya Namaskar contributes towards maintaining healthy digestion. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar will keep your fat metabolism under control and eliminate unhealthy fats from the body.
Almost every step of Surya Namaskar stretches various body muscles, which causes the adipose deposits to squeeze out and get eliminated from the body. By improving the quality of blood circulation, Surya Namaskar also helps eliminate lipid deposits that line the walls of the blood vessels.
Combining all the positive factors makes Surya Namaskar an ideal way to lose weight healthily and maintain a perfect weight.
Steps Of Suryanamaskar
Surya Namaskar is a compilation of twelve Yoga poses performed in a specific flow, one after the other. The graceful shifting of your body from one pose to another while performing Surya Namaskar must be done correctly to experience its full effect.
Below are the steps of Surya Namaskar and the sequence in which you must perform them.
1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
- Stand at the front edge of your Yoga mat with your feet close to one another.
- Inhale deeply and lift both your arms sideways
- As you exhale, bring your palms together and join them in front of your chest as if in prayer.
2. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arm Pose)
- Inhale again and lift your arms upward while keeping both palms touching one another.
- Stretch your head and arms backward.
- Place your upper arms close to the ears.
- Make an effort to stretch your entire body from the fingers to the toes.
3. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
- Bend forward from your waist and move your arms towards your toes simultaneously.
- Remember to avoid hunching your back during this pose.
- Place your arms at either side of the feet. If you cannot do this step, try to get your palms in as close contact with your feet as possible.
- Exhale gradually while getting into this pose.
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
- Touch your palms to the floor on either side of the feet and move your right foot behind.
- Stretch your right leg completely so that the right shin and foot are touching the ground.
- Keep your left foot in its place and look straight ahead without bending your neck.
- Remember to inhale gradually while getting into this asana from the previous pose of Hastapadasana.
5. Dandasana (Staff Pose)
- Take your left foot behind and place it parallel to the right foot.
- Your hips, back, and shoulders must be in a straight line, and you must engage your core.
- Keep your arms straight and avoid bending the elbows.
- Balance your body weight on your palms and balls of both feet.
- Maintain regular breathing throughout.
6. Ashtanga Namaskar (Eight Limbed Pose)
- The Ashtanga Namaskar is the most relaxing posture of the Surya Namaskar.
- Lower both knees to the ground simultaneously and then touch your chest and chin to the ground.
- Elevate your buttocks slightly by bending the knees.
Ashta is the Sanskrit word for the digit ‘8’, and Anga means limbs. The Ashtanga Namaskar asana is named so because, during the pose, eight body limbs are in contact with the ground. The eight limbs are the chin, the chest, both the hands, both the knees, and both the feet.
People often, and wrongly, confuse Ashtanga Namaskar to be synonymous with Ashtanga Yoga. While Ashtanga Namaskar is a Yoga pose, Ashtanga Yoga is a style of Yoga that focuses on the eight pillars or principles on which Yoga bases itself. These principles in the correct order are Yama (behavioral discipline), Niyama (Righteous acts for the progress of self), Asana (Physical postures), Pranayama (Breathing techniques), Pratyahara (Gaining Control Over The Mind), Dharana (Enhancing focus and concentration), Dhyana (The act of meditating) and Samadhi (Complete oneness with the universe).
7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- With the support of both hands, elevate your chest off the floor and arch your upper body backward.
- Your hips, thighs, shin, and feet must be touching the ground.
- Bend your neck backward as if gazing toward the ceiling.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)
- Elevate your hips and stretch them upward towards the ceiling.
- Balance your body weight on both the palms and balls of the feet.
- Your body must resemble the shape of an inverted letter ‘V.’
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
Follow the same steps as the fourth step.
10. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
Follow the same steps as the third step.
11. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arm Pose)
Follow the same steps as the second step.
12. Tadasana (Palm Tree Pose)
- Straighten your back and bring your arms to either side of the body.
- Maintain an erect spine and straighten your shoulders.
- Stand in a relaxed posture, albeit without bending your elbows or knees.
You complete one Surya Namaskar when you perform each of the above twelve Yoga asanas in the exact sequence. It would be best if you continued breathing at a moderate pace throughout the exercise.
The twelve poses comprise the Hatha Surya Namaskar, as the Hatha school of Yoga developed it. Over the years, the art of Yoga has seen several modifications, as has the sequence of Surya Namaskar. There are various other forms of Surya Namaskar as well, with additional steps and poses.
The Iyengar school of Yoga is quite renowned, and its teachings are in strict adherence with the original principles of Yoga. The Iyengar Surya Namaskar is similar to the Hatha Surya Namaskar, albeit performed slightly faster. The Iyengar Surya Namaskar focuses on the speed and energy that one uses during each of the twelve Yoga poses of the Surya Namaskar.
Another variation in the traditional Surya Namaskar is in the form of Ashtanga Surya Namaskar, which can be performed in two different styles. The two types of Ashtanga Surya Namaskar have nine and seventeen steps, respectively, variations of the Hatha Surya Namaskar.
Power Yoga is another school of Yoga that is garnering immense fandom. Power Yoga teaches the traditional Hatha Surya Namaskar with a slight variation and a few additional poses.
While all the Yoga schools teach different styles of Surya Namaskar, they all adhere to the original rules and principles of the Hatha Surya Namaskar.
Before And After Practising Suryanamaskar
To maximize the benefits of your rejuvenating session of practicing Suryanamaskar, remember the following tips.
- A warm-up workout including simple stretches works wonders before a session of Suryanamaskar.
- Avoid consuming a rich meal for at least 3 hours before you perform Surya Namaskar.
- Always choose a quiet environment that is adequately lit and well ventilated to perform Surya Namaskar.
- A positive mindset contributes immensely to increasing the efficacy of each Surya Namaskar you perform. Remember to be mentally relaxed and calm during your Surya Namaskar session.
- Choose comfortable clothing that does not restrict your physical movement as you practice Surya Namaskar.
- Remember to focus well on each step of your Surya Namaskar with grace and joy to experience its full benefits.
- After a sweaty yet rejuvenating session of Suryanamaskar, make it a point to cool down by performing simple stretches.
- Lie down on your back and relax each muscle of your body. Remain in this state for about 5 minutes after performing Surya Namaskar.
- Have a few sips of water to keep yourself hydrated post an exhausting session of Surya Namaskar.
- Avoid exposure to cold temperatures immediately after your Surya Namaskar session, as it may interrupt the natural homeostasis of your body.
- After an hour of your Surya Namaskar session, have a light and healthy meal comprising fruits, nuts, vegetables, or soups.
Do’s And Don’ts Of Suryanamaskar
Surya Namaskar is not merely a form of physical exercise, but it is a rejuvenating experience. One must follow specific rules to ensure that the experience does not turn unpleasant or do more harm than good.
Here are a few simple tips for those who intend to learn Surya Namaskar
- Learn Surya Namaskar only under the guidance of a certified Yoga teacher.
- Patients of any chronic or active health condition are advised to consult with a doctor before practicing Surya Namaskar.
- Pregnant women may consult with their obstetrician before performing Surya Namaskar.
- People recovering from any surgery should avoid Surya Namaskar till the doctor deems fit.
- Remember to maintain controlled respiration throughout all the poses of Surya Namaskar.
- Do not continue with the Surya Namaskar if you experience any physical discomfort while performing any of its asanas.
Surya Namaskar is an excellent form of holistic exercise for your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. But it may not agree with every person’s constitution. Always seek professional help before you begin learning or practicing Surya Namaskar regularly.
Among followers of the Hindu religion, Suryanamaskar is not merely a form of physical exercise but a way of praying to the Sun God. It has been one of the most popular forms of training since ancient times.
People were used to waking up at the crack of dawn and beginning their practice of Suryanamaskar while facing the East, as that is the direction from where the Sun rises. It is said to be a mark of respect to the Sun, the sustaining energy source of life. People who practiced Suryanamaskar in the evening ensured that they faced the West, as that is the direction where the Sun will set. According to Hindu mythology, the Sun God has several names. People often recite prayers, including each of these names, while performing the Suryanamaskar.
Surya Namaskar promotes not only mental and physical wellness but also shows positive effects over several illnesses. Practicing Surya Namaskar will change your outlook towards life as well.
Discover a new and rejuvenated you by embracing Surya Namaskar as a part of your daily routine.