Surya namaskar or sun salutation, is widely practiced for its physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Few other exercises bring overall mobility to most parts of the body. It is an effective way of loosening, stretching, strengthening, massaging and toning all the joints, glands, muscles and internal organs. The dynamic sequence of twelve positions, perfomed in time with the breath also provides cardio-respiratory exercise and a connection of body, breath, and mind.
In Yoga, the sun is represented by the pranic channel in the astral body called the Pingla nadi, carrying the vital, life-giving force. Surya namaskara generates ‘prana’ – the life-force. It activates the psychic body, preparing for its spiritual awakening. Surya or sun also symbolises spiritual consciousness.
Surya namaskar also reminds us that the sun is the ultimate source of life energy on our planet. Life is inconceivable without sun light. It can be practiced anytime on empty stomach. However, it is best practiced facing the sun at the time of sunrise or sunset.
- It tones the spine, neck, shoulder, arms, hands, wrist, back and leg muscles, promoting overall flexibility.
- It strengthens and makes the spine supple.
- It improves blood circulation throughout the body.
- It stimulates, strengthens and balances all the systems of the body.
- Helps in Weight loss
- Increasing mental awareness by bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain.
- Reducing anxiety and stress
Relative contra – indications Surya namaskara should be practiced with the medical advice or caution;
- In case acute illness.
- In debilitating diseases such arthritis, cancer, neuromuscular diseases etc.
- In people suffering from high blood pressure, coronary artery diseases, stroke or back disorders.
Stand erect with the head and body straight but relaxed . The feet are together, the knees are straight and the arms are relaxed at the sides. Inhale deeply and begin
As you exhale the breath, bring your hands together at the chest in the prayer position. This is a powerful physical, mental and psychic way of centring the body.
1.Prayer Position: Bringing the hands up from the
sides, place the palms flat against each other at the centre of the chest. The elbows are pushed out to the sides.
2.The head is held erect
3.Elbows are pointing outwards
4.Kneed are straight but relaxed
Inhale and stretch your arms up over your head. Arch your body backwards, keeping the arms alongside the ears, and the knees straight.
1.Arms are alongside the ears
2.Elbows are straight
3.Hold the head back slightly
4.Arch the hips forwards
5.Keep the knees straight
Exhale as you bend forward and bring the hands down to the floor next to the feet. If you cannot put your hands on the floor with the knees straight, bend the knees slightly.
1.Make sure that the hips stay as high as possible
2.Head is tucked in towards knees
3.Fingers are toes are in straight line
4.Hands are as flat on the floor as possible
Without moving your hands, inhale and stretch the right leg back as far as possible. Drop the right knee to the floor and then stretch the head up.
1.Head is held high
2.Lift the hips
3.Top of the foot is flat on the floor
4.Keep the hands on the floor next to the feet
Retaining the breath, bring the left leg back and place the left foot next to the right, with the toes pointing forwards. Your body should now be in a straight line, in a posture often known as the Push-up position.
1.Do not allow the head to drop
2.Do not lift the hips
3.Keep the body straight
Exhaling , drop the knees straight down to the floor. Keep the hips up. Without rocking the body backwards, brings the chest straight down to the floor between the hands. Bring the forehead to the floor , beginners may place the chin on the ground if this is difficult to do.
1.Forehead is brought down to the ground
2.Chest is on the ground
3.Hips are kept up
4.Knees are on the ground
Inhale as you slide the body forward until the hips are on the ground. Arch the chest up and bring the head back into the Cobra pose (see pp.64-5) do not move the hands. The elbows are slightly bent, with the shoulders down and back, so that there is no tension in the neck or shoulder area.
1.Head is stretched back
2.Shoulders are relaxed
3.Elbows are slightly bent
4.Hands are flat on the ground with the fingers together
5.Hips are on the ground
6.Knees are straight, with the legs parallel to each other
Exhale as you tuck the toes under. Without allowing the hands or feet to move from their positions, bring the hips up. Push the heels towards the floor and keep the knees straight. Drop the head down between the arms. This is often referred to as the inverted “V” pose.
1.Hands remain flat on the ground
2.Head is between the arms, so that you are looking at your feet
3.Heels are stretching towards the ground
Inhale and bring the right foot forwards between the hands so that the fingers and toes from a straight line. Drop the left knee to the floor and stretch the head up.
2.The front foot remain between the hands
3.Back knee is on the ground
Without moving the hands, exhale as you bring the left foot forwards next to the right foot. The forehead is down towards the knees.
1.Head is towards the knees
2.Hips are as high as possible
3.Fingers and toes are in straight line
Inhale as you slowly reach the arms forwards and then stretch them up over the head. With the arms alongside the ears, and the weight centred on the balls of the feet, give a complete backward bend to the body.
1.Arms are stretched alongside the ears
2.Elbows are straight
3.Head is stretched back
4.Chest and the entire thorax region are arching forward
5.Knees are straight
Exhale as you stand upright and bring your arms down alongside your body, returning to the starting position. You are now ready to begin the next Sun Salutation cycle. In the steps shown here, you are asked to lead with the right leg, but for the next cycle, you should lead with the left leg.
1.Body in straight line
2.Hands are relaxed by the sides