Surya Namaskar is one of the most important exercises that is performed when Yoga is practiced. The literal translation of this term means “Salutation to the Sun”. This is due to the fact that the Sun is regarded as a Hindu deity and is paid obeisance by this asana. It is essentially performed as a common sequence in the asanas (exercises) of Hatha Yoga. Its benefits are numerous and tone up the general well-being of the body and mind. Surya Namaskar is performed as a sequence of 12 Yogic postures in accordance to specific breathing patterns and stretching exercises. It is recommended to perform this asana during sun rise for attaining maximum benefits.
Surya Namaskar Steps
Surya Namaskar essentially has 12 steps or Yogic postures. They are described below.
- Stand straight with your feet together and palms folded at the chest as if in prayer. Your toes can be slightly apart but the heels should be as close as possible.
- Raise your arms above your head and stretch back as much as possible to bend your spine backwards while inhaling air. Your abdomen should be stretched to the maximum limit and your biceps should be touching your ears with your hands parallel.
- Now bend forward, go down and touch your toes with your fingertips. Don’t bend your knees and try to touch your knee with your forehead. When you do this, your stomach is compressed, so exhale.
- Now, take your right leg back and stretch it while balancing it on the toe and keep your left leg folded in front of your chest. Keep your palms straight on both sides of the left foot on the ground. Look up and inhale.
- Now, take back the left leg as well and keep both the feet together while raising your hip from the ground and balancing yourself on all fours. You will look like an inverted V. Exhale while you do this posture.
- Now, slowly come down and rest your palms next to your shoulders, your knees touching the ground but your waist and hip slightly raised above so that they don’t touch the ground. Your face should also be downward facing and hold your breath during this.
- In the next step, lower your waist and raise your torso, making your arms straight and balancing yourself. Feel your spine bend and the abdomen stretch. Inhale when you do this and look straight.
- Now, again raise your hip and balance yourself on all fours. Looking like an inverted V. Exhale while you do this.
- Then bring the left leg forward and fold it so that the knee reaches your chin and look up. Keep the right leg behind as before and stretch. Inhale when you do this.
- Now, with your palm at your toes, raise yourself up so that your forehead touches the knees and your spine bends forward. Exhale in this posture.
- Get up very slowly and take your arms above your head and stretch backwards while inhaling.
- Then come back to the first position with your arms folded and relax while breathing normal.
- Repeat the series with the other leg.
Surya Namaskar Benefits
When performed properly, Surya Namaskar gives immense benefits and purifies the body, mind and soul. Following are the benefits of Surya Namaskar:
- The strength in the back and legs is increased to a great extent. The waist is shaped perfectly and any skin disorder is cured off completely. When done with immense concentration, it increases confidence and boosts the personality.
- Any disease or disorder of the throat is corrected and the food pipe or esophagus is strengthened. Eyes are made stronger and sharper and the vision improves.
- The digestive system and the stomach become stronger and improve the overall metabolism. Your body becomes balanced with the correct amount of energy being released whenever wanted.
- Due to the stretching, the intestines are strengthened and the abdomen walls become stronger.
- The back muscles are toned up and strengthened to a great extent and the spine and arms become stronger.