Surya Namaskar: All You Need To Know
Table of Contents
What is Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar, often referred to as Sun Salutation, is a graceful sequence of yoga asanas (postures) performed in a continuous flow. This sequence pays homage to the sun, the ultimate source of energy and life.
Comprising a series of 12 distinct poses, Surya Namaskar is a holistic practice that engages your body, breath, and mind. It’s not just a physical exercise but a profound ritual that connects you to the cosmic energy and the essence of life itself.
The word “Surya” means “sun” in Sanskrit, and “Namaskar” translates to “salutation” or “greeting.” Thus, Surya Namaskar is a reverential salutation to the sun, acknowledging its vital role in sustaining life on Earth.
History of Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar has a deep-rooted history that can be traced back to ancient India. Its origins are intertwined with the practice of yoga and the reverence for the sun as a symbol of vitality and spiritual consciousness. The concept of saluting the sun has been present in Vedic texts, where the sun is worshipped as a deity.
Over time, Surya Namaskar evolved into a structured sequence of yoga poses. Swami Sivananda, a prominent yogi and guru in the 20th century, played a significant role in popularizing this practice. He incorporated Surya Namaskar into his teachings, contributing to its global recognition.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar offers a multitude of benefits, making it a comprehensive practice for overall well-being. Let’s explore some of these advantages:
- Improves Flexibility: The sequence involves a range of poses that enhance the flexibility of various muscle groups and joints.
- Strengthens Muscles: Surya Namaskar engages numerous muscle groups, helping to build strength and endurance.
- Boosts Cardiovascular Health: The dynamic flow of Surya Namaskar increases your heart rate, promoting cardiovascular health.
- Reduces Stress: The combination of rhythmic breathing and focused movement reduces stress and calms the mind.
- Improves Mood: Regular practice can uplift your mood, thanks to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators.
- Promotes Weight Loss: Surya Namaskar is an effective practice for weight management, as it burns calories and tones the body.
- Improves Sleep: A consistent practice can help regulate sleep patterns, leading to better sleep quality.
- Improves Overall Well-being: Surya Namaskar harmonizes the body and mind, promoting a sense of balance and well-being.
Who can do Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar is a versatile practice suitable for a wide range of individuals, from beginners to experienced yogis. Here’s a breakdown of who can benefit from it:
Beginners: Surya Namaskar is accessible to beginners, provided they start slowly and focus on proper form.
Intermediate Practitioners: Those with some yoga experience can deepen their practice and refine their alignment through Surya Namaskar.
Advanced Yogis: Experienced practitioners can use Surya Namaskar as a dynamic warm-up or incorporate advanced variations to challenge themselves.
Age and Fitness Level: Surya Namaskar can be adapted to accommodate various fitness levels and age groups.
Pregnant Women: Pregnant women can modify Surya Namaskar to ensure it’s safe and comfortable for their changing bodies.
How to do Surya Namaskar Step by Steps
Surya Namaskar consists of a sequence of 12 asanas performed in a fluid motion. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Pranamasana (Prayer Pose): Stand at the front of your mat with feet together, palms pressed together in front of your chest, and take a few deep breaths.
- Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose): Inhale, raise your arms above your head, and gently arch your back, stretching the whole body.
- Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose): Exhale, bend forward at the waist, keeping your spine straight, and bring your hands to the floor beside your feet.
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose): Inhale, step your right leg back and place your right knee on the floor. Arch your back and look up.
- Dandasana (Stick Pose): Inhale, bring your left leg back to align your body in a straight line, like a plank.
- Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with Eight Parts or Points): Exhale, lower your knees, chest, and chin to the floor while keeping your hips elevated.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): Inhale, slide forward and arch your back, lifting your chest and head. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
- Parvatasana (Mountain Pose): Exhale, lift your hips and tailbone, forming an inverted V shape with your body. Keep your heels on the ground.
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose, the other leg): Inhale, step your right foot forward between your hands and look up.
- Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose): Exhale, bring your left foot forward next to your right foot, keeping your palms on the floor.
- Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose): Inhale, raise your arms above your head, arch your back, and stretch your whole body.
- Pranamasana (Prayer Pose): Exhale, return to the starting position with your palms pressed together in front of your chest.
FAQs about Surya Namaskar
Let’s address some common questions about Surya Namaskar:
Q1. How many rounds of Surya Namaskar should I do daily for optimal benefits?
The number of rounds depends on your fitness level and goals. Beginners may start with 2-4 rounds and gradually increase. Advanced practitioners can do more.
Q2. Can beginners practice Surya Namaskar, or is it more suitable for experienced yogis?
Surya Namaskar is suitable for beginners with proper guidance and modifications. Start slowly and focus on form.
Q3. Are there any specific breathing techniques associated with each pose in Surya Namaskar?
Yes, Surya Namaskar synchronizes breath with movement. Inhale during poses that open the chest and exhale during forward bends.
Q4. Can Surya Namaskar help with weight loss and toning the body?
Yes, Surya Namaskar is an effective practice for weight management and body toning, as it combines strength, flexibility, and cardio.
Q5. How long does it take to complete one round of Surya Namaskar?
One round typically takes 2-3 minutes, but the duration may vary based on your pace.
Surya Namaskar is a holistic yoga practice that offers a multitude of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced yogi, this sequence can be adapted to suit your needs and goals. By incorporating Surya Namaskar into your daily routine, you embark on a journey of self-discovery, improved well-being, and a deeper connection to the essence of life represented by the sun.
As you perform each pose in the sequence, you align your body, breath, and mind, creating a harmonious union that can lead to enhanced flexibility, strength, cardiovascular health, reduced stress, improved mood, weight management, better sleep, and overall well-being. So, roll out your mat, greet the sun, and begin your transformative journey with Surya Namaskar.
I am a Pune based artist, Kathak dancer, Dance Movement Therapist, and an avid Yoga practitioner/ teacher. I am also the Director at the Sakal Media Group, a Trustee of Pune Blind School and Nirdhar Trust.
Being a part of Sakal Media Group, with its strong foundation of service and ethical journalism, I am deeply committed in making this world a better place by pushing boundaries, giving opportunities to others, following my convictions, helping others make better choices and to tell powerful stories that will help reshape the world we live in.