Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation
Surya Namaskar literally means ‘salute to Lord Surya or Sun God.’ It is an expression of gratitude to the Sun God for providing light and prosperity. The ancient yogis practiced it every early morning facing the sun, to greet the the Sun God and the new day. Surya Namaskar, is not an asana, it is a scientific warm up that prepares mind and body for asana practice. Each position is synchronized with gentle and graceful movements and specific breathing to improve alertness and remove lethargy. When getting into a position, a specific mantra is chanted inwardly to keep the thoughts away and feel the power of divinity. It is a dynamic sequence of 12 positions, that stretch the spine backwards and forwards. A set consists of 24 positions (12×2). Normally, 3 to 7 sets are performed. When practiced in a slow pace with awareness, the gain is physical, mental and spiritual. When practiced mechanically in a fast pace, the gain is only physical.
Cautions: People suffering from arthritis, headaches, uncontrolled blood pressure, slip-disc, retinal problem, heart problem, insomnia and pregnant women must avoid Surya Namaskar.
Benefits: Improves awareness, increases flexibility and strength, relieves lethargy and tensions, reduces weight, enhances agility and grace.
Instructions for Practice
1. Om Mitrāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the friend) Pranamasana: Exhale, stand upright, with your hands in prayer position. Steady your body, fix your eyes and look forward and breathe evenly.
2. Om Rāvaye Namaḥ (Salutations to the ever shining) Hasta Uttanasana: Inhale, raise your hands up, gently bend backwards. Look upwards and breathe.
3. Om Sūryāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the cosmic light) Pada Hastasana: Exhale, bend forward, press your palms on the sides of your feet. Look downwardsand breathe.
4. Om Bhānave Namaḥ (Salutations to the illuminator) Anjaneya Asana: Inhale, stretch your right leg far behind. With support of your hands, arch your spine. Look upwards and breathe.
5. Om Khagāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the performer) Adho Mukha Svanasana: Exhale, take your left leg far behind, adjust and stretch. Look downwards and breathe.
6. Om Puṣṇe Namaḥ (Salutations to the nourisher) Ashta Anga Namaskara: Inhale, bring toes under, knees down, hips up. Exhale, chest and chin down. Look downwards and breathe.
7. Om Hiraṇya Garbhāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the golden womb of universe) Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Inhale, raise your head and chest, lift your thighs and pelvis off the floor.Stretch and look upwards and breathe.
8. Om Marīcāye Namaḥ (Salutations to the power that heals) Adho Mukha Svanasana: Exhale, press your palms and feet, raise your hips and stretch your legs andhands. Lower your head. Look downwards and breathe.
9. Om Adityāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the son of Aditi) Anjaneya Asana: Inhale, bring your right foot forward between your palms. Stretch your back leg. Arch your spine. Look upwards and breathe.
10. Om Sāvitre Namaḥ (Salutations to the stimulator) Pada Hastasana: Exhale, bring your left foot forward, bend forward, stretch your legs and hands. Lower your head and look downwards and breathe.
11. Om Arkāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the essence of life) Hasta Uttanasana: Inhale, roll up, bend backward. Look upwards and breathe.
12. Om Bhāskarāya Namaḥ (Salutations to the enlightener) Pranamasana: Exhale, stand upright, with your hands in prayer position. Look inwards and breathe.
Thanks for the details on Surya Namaskar. Saw a news item in the express this morning and found the details very informative. I’ve been practising the surya namaskar since about an year and the details will help me do it in the way it should be done.
similar details on other forms also would be of help.
Thank you that this article provided necessary information
Thanks for the nice instructions. Request you to include the do’s and dont’s immediately before and after Surya Namaskar. If we were to practice only Surya Namaskar daily, how to go about it? Is it to be done only in early mornings? How to warm up before Surya Namaskar and how to relax after Surya Namaskar?
Thanks and best regards
Surya Namaskar in yoga philosophy is paying respects to Sun God, and a scientific warm up.It releases stiffness from body and improves focus in the mind. Practicing Surya Namaskar in the morning is beneficial for the systems.
I do not understand the breathing in this cycle. There are 12 mantras and 13 breaths…Isn’t every movement one breathe? The breathing feels artificial at 6 and 7… An inhale and exhale for that relatively short/small movement at 6. Can someone explain?
The reason for two breaths in the 6th position of Surya Namaskar is… this is a unique lying down position – inhale and rest your knees on the floor, then exhale and rest your chest and chin. With inhalation and exhalationi there is better body adjustment and rhythm.
I am confused about Right posture of surya namskar I have seen in Wikipedia and other videos different posture of surya namskar like 4th and 9th position some people take back their body in Namaskar mudra please clarify this doubt
With respect to position 4 and 9 which are like the mirror images, my query is about the leg stretched backward.
In position 4 the foot is rested on the floor but in position 9, it’s stretched out with the foot looking upward.
Please explain why should it be so
Actually when you take your leg back, the toes are under stretching the front leg and the top of the feet are rested. In the picture shown above, position 6 is right.
Thank u for your valuable details.The instructions about surya namaskar was really useful.I have practiced this in my school days.It relaxes my mind and the whole body.Hoping to continue practicing again..
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I get headache after performing surya namaskar…it lasts for about 30-35 mins…why is it?? Plz help me
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Excellent article! thanks for the details. suryanamaskara is indeed a complete workout, it involves complete body mind and soul too.