Surya Namaskar or Salutations to the Sun:
Surya Namaskar also called Salutations to the Sun is an effective method of stretching, massaging and toning all the muscles, joints and internal organs of the body.
Surya Namaskar is a Sanskrit name where “Surya” stands for “Sun” and “Namaskar” stands for “Salutation” and so the name Salutations to the Sun.
It is a very beneficial asana for maintaining a healthy, vigorous and active lifestyle and preparing for spiritual awareness at the same time.
Surya Namaskar is composed of three elements: Energy, Form and Rhythm.
Surya Namaskar is woven around a matrix of twelve asanas around which the practice is woven.
Should Surya Namaskar Be Done Fast or Slow?
Various yoga professionals have their own preference when it comes to the pace or the speed of doing Surya Namaskar. Few trainers prefer performing surya namaskar in a slow manner with slow and controlled breathing, while others prefer doing surya namaskar at a medium or fast pace. Surya Namaskar done at different speeds provides different benefits. Irrespective of the speed, performing surya namaskar provides tremendous health benefits by way of improving pulmonary and respiratory health, cardiovascular health and improved hand grip strength and endurance.
Surya Namaskar Done in Slow Pace:
The slow Surya Namaskar practice is said to have meditative effect if the breath and consciousness are kept in harmony. Slow paced surya namaskar also is beneficial in strengthening the muscles and also improves the functioning of internal organs. Slow paced surya namaskar also helps control the diastolic blood pressure. Ideally 3 to 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar should be done daily for spiritual benefits.
Surya Namaskar Done in Medium Pace:
When surya namaskar is done in a medium pace, its effects are similar to those of aerobics or physical workouts with increased muscular endurance and power. A little faster set of 3 to 12 round should be done for the physical benefits. Beginners should start with 2-4 rounds and should add 1 extra round after every few days or every week to avoid exertion.
Surya Namaskar Done in Fast Pace:
Faster rounds of Surya Namaskar are considered as a very good Cardio Exercise. It helps burn extra fat from the body. Faster rounds of Surya Namaskar are considered very good as warm up exercise. Ideally 108 rounds of Surya Namaskar can be done daily but under expert guidance.
Preparation for Surya Namaskar
- Before starting the Surya Namaskar stand with your feet slightly apart and arms on the sides.
- Close the eyes and bring the awareness to the center of eyes and relieve yourself of all the tensions.
- Try to stand calm and not oscillate to and fro while standing in this position.
How to Do Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar is a matrix of 12 asanas with each one having its own benefits. All the Asanas are listed below:
Surya Namaskar Position 1: Pranamasana
- Stand straight with your feet held together.
- Bring your palms to touch each other at the chest level.
- Look straight and focus on the eye centre.
- Pranamasana is done at the beginning and end of Surya Namaskar.
Benefits of Pranamasana in Surya Namasakar
- Pranamasana relaxes the whole body and helps in concentrating.
Surya Namaskar Position 2: Hasta Uttahanasana
- Stand straight and raise both the arms above the head.
- Keep the shoulders wide apart and arms stretched while doing Hasta Uttahanasana.
- While stretching, bend the arms head and upper trunk backwards.
- Maintain this position for a few seconds.
- Inhale while raising the arms.
Benefits of Hasta Uttahanasana in Surya Namasakar
- Hasta Uttahanasana stretches the back and arm muscles
- Helps in shedding extra weight.
- Regular practice of Hasta Uttahanasana improves digestion.
Surya Namaskar Position 3: Padahastasana
- Stand erect and bend forward while practicing Padahastasana.
- Bend forward until the both hands touch the ground on either side of the feet.
- Try to touch your forehead to the knees.
- Do not go beyond your limits while practicing Padahastasana. Bend as per your capability and as far as your body allows.
- Always keep the knees straight while practicing Padahastasana.
- Exhale while you are bending forward.
Benefits of Padahastasana in Surya Namasakar
- Padahastasana stretches the back and leg muscles thus increasing the flexibility of the body.
- Regular practice of Padahastasana helps in relieving constipation.
- Helps in eliminating excess belly fat.
- It improves blood circulation and make spine flexible.
Precautions While Doing Padahastasana in Surya Namasakar
People with back problems should not bend forward completely. You can come at a ninety degree angle with the legs or bend as far as possible.
Surya Namaskar Position 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Place the hands on either side of the feet at the same level while performing Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- While inhaling, take and stretch the right leg as far as possible to your back while folding the left foot.
- The level of left foot and hands should be same on the ground while performing Ashwa Sanchalanasana.
- Stretch your head and trunk backwards in such a way that the weight of whole body is on your palms.
- Take awareness to your eye center.
- Stay in this position for a few seconds.
Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana in Surya Namasakar
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana balances the nervous system
- It tones the Abdominal Muscles
- Leg muscles are also strengthened with the regular practice of Ashwa Sanchalanasana.
Surya Namaskar Position 5: Parvatasana or the Mountain Pose
- After the Ashwa Sanchalanasana, while exhaling take your left foot near the right foot.
- While taking the left foot behind, raise your hips and Lower your hands as much as possible between the arms in such a way that the arms and legs form two sides of a triangle.
- In the final position of Parvatasana, the arms and legs should be straight.
- Always try to keep your heel on the floor and bring your head between the knees.
- Go as far as your body allows. Do not overstretch yourself while practicing Parvatasana.
Benefits of Parvatasana in Surya Namasakar
- Regular practice of Parvatasana helps get rid of respiratory disorders.
- It can help grow height if children below 18 years practice Parvatasana.
Surya Namaskar Position 6: Ashtanga Namaskara
- To practice Ashtanga Namaskara, lower and touch your chin, chest and knees to the floor.
- All other body parts will be above the ground.
- Chin, chest and knees should touch the ground at the same time.
- If it is not possible for you to practice, lower the knees first, then the chest and chin in the end.
- The abdomen and hips will be raised a little from the ground while practicing Ashtanga Namaskara
Benefits of Ashtanga Namaskara in Surya Namasakar
- Ashtanga Namaskara strengthens the arm and leg muscles.
- It helps in developing the chest.
Surya Namaskar Position 7: Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose
- After Ashtanga Namaskara, lower the hips to the floor.
- Straighten the elbows on the ground besides the shoulders.
- While inhaling, raise the back and push the chest forward to practice Bhujangasana.
- Arch the back and tilt your head backwards and focus on the eye center.
- Thighs and hips will remain on the floor while the arms will support the trunk while practicing Bhujangasana.
Benefits Of Bhujangasana in Surya Namasakar
- Bhujangasana improves the blood circulation in the back region and makes the spine supple.
- It massages the adrenal glands and liver and stimulates digestion and relieve constipation.
Surya Namaskar Position 8: Parvatasana
- This Surya Namaskar position is same as Position 5.
- From Bhujangasana go directly in to Parvatasana.
- While exhaling, raise the buttocks from the floor and lower the heels on the floor.
Surya Namaskar Position 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- This Surya Namaskar position is same as Position 4.
- Keep the palms on the floor.
- Bend the left leg and bring it between the hands lying on the floor.
- Lower the right knee on the ground and push the pelvis forward.
- Arch the back a little and look upwards. Also tilt your head backwards and focus on the eye center.
Surya Namaskar Position 10: Padahastasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
- This position resembles position 3 of the Surya Namaskar group of asanas.
- Bring the right foot forward besides the left foot from Ashwa Sanchalanasana.
- Straighten both the knees and try to touch the forehead to the knees.
- Do not over exert.
Surya Namaskar Position 11: Hasta Utthanasana
- This position is a repeat of Surya Namaskara position 2.
- While inhaling, bend the head, arms and upper trunk backward while keeping the arms separated from each other and shoulders wide apart.
Surya Namaskar Position 12: Pranamasana
- This is the last and final Surya Namaskara Position.
- Bring the folded palms together in front of the chest.
Tips While Practicing Surya Namaskar:
- Do not practice Surya Namaskar if you have High Blood Pressure, Hernia, Tuberculosis and coronary Artery Diseases and people who have had stroke.
- People with back problems should consult a doctor before practicing this asana.
- Surya Namaskar can be practiced till the twelfth week of pregnancy.
- The practice can be resumed after forty days of delivery for re toning of the uterine muscles.