Friday, June 2, 2023

Surya Namaskar – Steps And Health Benefits


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About Surya Namaskar

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Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation (in English) is an ancient way of offering respect to the Sun. For centuries, people from all civilisations have offered prayers to the sun – the ultimate source of life and energy. One such practice is the yogic sequence of Surya Namaskar.

It is generally considered to be a morning practice, designed to harness the prana shakti (life energy) which is most abundant at dawn. The sequence stimulates all muscles, organs, systems and chakras in addition to cultivating concentration and stillness of mind.

The twelve asana which comprise Surya Namaskar are:

Step 1: Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Surya Namaskar Step 1
Surya Namanskar Step 1

Stand at the edge of your mat, keep your feet together and balance your weight equally on both feet. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders. As you breathe in, lift both arms up from the sides, and as you exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest in a prayer position.

Step 2: Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Surya Namaskar Step 2
Surya Namanskar Step 2

Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

You may push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure you’re reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backward.

Step 3: Uttanasana or Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Fold)

Surya Namaskar Step 3
Surya Namanskar Step 3

Breathing out, bend forward from the waist keeping the spine erect. As you exhale completely, bring the hands down to the floor beside the feet.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

You may bend the knees, if necessary, to bring the palms down to the floor. Now make a gentle effort to straighten the knees. It’s a good idea to keep the hands fixed in this position and not move them henceforth until we finish the sequence.

Step 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose or Low Lunge)

Surya Namaskar Step 4
Surya Namanskar Step 4

Breathing in, push your right leg back, as far back as possible. Bring the right knee to the floor and look up.

Tip: How to deepen this yoga stretch

Ensure that the left foot is exactly in between the palms.

Step 5: Chaturanga Dandasana (Plank Pose)

Surya Namaskar Step 5
Surya Namanskar Step 5

As you breathe in, take the left leg back and bring the whole body in a straight line.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.

Also Read: Yoga And Asanas: Is Yoga Just Limited To Asanas?

Step 6: Ashtanga Namaskara (Eight Limbed Salute)

Surya Namaskar Step 6
Surya Namanskar Step 6

Gently bring your knees down to the floor and exhale. Take the hips back slightly, slide forward, rest your chest and chin on the floor. Raise your posterior a little bit. The two hands, two feet, two knees, chest and chin (eight parts of the body) should touch the floor.

Step 7: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Surya Namaskar Step 7
Surya Namanskar Step 7

Slide forward and raise the chest up into the Cobra pose. You may keep your elbows bent in this pose with the shoulders away from the ears. Look up at the ceiling.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

As you inhale, make a gentle effort to push the chest forward; as you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down. Tuck the toes under. Ensure you’re stretching just as much as you can and not forcing your body.

Step 8: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog Pose)

Surya Namaskar Step 8
Surya Namanskar Step 8

Breathing out, lift the hips and the tailbone up to bring the body into an inverted ‘V’ pose.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

If possible, try and keep the heels on the ground and make a gentle effort to lift the tailbone up, going deeper into the stretch.

Step 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)

Surya Namaskar Step 9
Surya Namaskara Step 9

Breathing in, bring the right foot forward in between the two hands. The left knee goes down on the floor. Press the hips down and look up.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

Place the right foot exactly between the two hands and the right calf perpendicular to the floor. In this position, make a gentle effort to push the hips down towards the floor, to deepen the stretch.

Step 10: Hastapadasana (Standing forward bend)

Surya Namaskar Step 10
Surya Namaskara Step 10

Breathing out, bring the left foot forward. Keep the palms on the floor. You may bend the knees, if necessary.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

Gently straighten the knees, and if you can, try and touch your nose to the knees. Keep breathing.

Step 11: Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)

Surya Namaskar Step 11
Surya Namanskar Step 11

Breathing in, roll the spine up. Raise the hands up and bend backward a little bit, pushing the hips slightly outward.

Tip to deepen this yoga stretch:

Ensure that your biceps are beside your ears. The idea is to stretch up more rather than stretching backward.

Step 12: Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Surya Namaskar Step 12
Surya Namanskar Step 12

As you exhale, first straighten the body, then bring the arms down. Relax in this position and observe the sensations in your body.

This completes one set of Surya Namaskar. Complete the round by repeating the steps. Only this time, start with taking the left foot behind in step number 4 and bringing the right foot forward in step number 10. Once done, you would’ve completed one round of Surya Namaskar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mantras of Surya Namaskar

॥ ॐ ध्येयः सदा सवित्र मण्डल मध्यवर्ती नारायण सरसिजा सनसन्नि विष्टः
केयूरवान मकरकुण्डलवान किरीटी हारी हिरण्मय वपुर धृतशंख चक्रः ॥

ॐ मित्राय नमः।
ॐ रवये नमः।
ॐ सूर्याय नमः।
ॐ भानवे नमः।
ॐ खगाय नमः।
ॐ पुषणे नमः।
ॐ हिरण्यगर्भाय नमः।
ॐ मरीचये नमः।
ॐ आदित्याय नमः।
ॐ सवित्रे नमः।
ॐ अर्काय नमः।
ॐ भास्कराय नमः।
ॐ श्रीसवित्रसूर्यनारायणाय नमः।

॥ आदित्यस्य नमस्कारन् ये कुर्वन्ति दिने दिने
आयुः प्रज्ञा बलम् वीर्यम् तेजस्तेशान् च जायते ॥

Do you need to worship the Sun God while performing Surya Namaskar?

Yes, in the Vedic tradition, the sun is symbolic of consciousness and, therefore, Sun is worshipped daily in the Indian culture. However, it is not required of you to worship the sun while you do your Yoga Poses.

Can Surya Namaskar be done without Chanting?

It’s upto you to chant the mantras while doing Surya Namaskar. It is not mandatory to chant the mantras. If you can do it, it is really good.

Can Sun Salutation be practised only during sunrise or early morning?

As long as your stomach is empty and you have a flat surface to spread your yoga mat on – you can practise Sun Salutation anytime anywhere. Remember to face the east or face the sun rising in the morning and face the setting sun if you do it in the evening.

Is Surya Namaskar a Religious Practice?

No, it is not related to religion. The benefits of Sun Salutation are mostly physical, mental and spiritual.

How many asanas are included in Surya Namaskar?

Surya Namaskar is an amalgamation of 13 asanas. Those asanas help an overall rejuvenation of your whole body.

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