Surya Namaskar – Yoga for Good Health

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is a sequence of 12 powerful yoga poses. Besides being a great cardiovascular workout, Surya Namaskar is also known to have an immensely positive impact on the body and mind. It strengthens the immune system, enhances cognitive functions and improves overall health, strengthens the body, and relaxes the mind
Surya Namaskar is best done early morning on an empty stomach. Each round of the Sun Salutation consists of two sets, and each set is composed of 12 yoga poses. You might find several variations however, it is advisable to stick to one particular version and practice it regularly for the best results.
Besides good health, Surya Namaskar also provides an opportunity to express gratitude to the sun for sustaining life on this planet.

Surya Namaskar Steps to Follow:

Step 1

Step 1. Pranamasana (Prayer pose)
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

Step 2. Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)
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 backwards.

Step 3

Step 3. Hastapadasana (Standing forward bend)
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

Step 4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)
Breathing in, push your right leg back, as far back as possible. Bring the right knee to the floor and lookup.
Tip: How to deepen this yoga stretch? Ensure that the left foot is exactly in between the palms.

Step 5

Step 5. Dandasana (Stick pose)
As you breathe in, take the left leg back and bring the whole body in a straight line.

Step 6

Step 6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts or points)
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

Step 7. Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
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.

Step 8

Step 8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog pose)
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)
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 lookup.
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)
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)
Breathing in, roll the spine up. Raise the hands up and bend backwards 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 stretch backward.

Step 12. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
As you exhale, first straighten the body, then bring the arms down. Relax in this position and observe the sensations in your body. Bring your hands forward to your heart centre.
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.

Apart from these main tips, here are a few more precautions to take:
Always remember to bring your attention towards your breath, slowly and calmly- Surya Namaskar can be easily done daily with 4-5 sets. Increase it gradually, with time. If you feel pain or discomfort in any part of the body, discontinue and consult with a doctor before resuming. Don’t forget to relax your body after each set.

Anuja Chowdhry
Anuja Chowdhry

Yoga instructor – Anahatha Yoga 
Anuja has completed 200 hours of Hatha Yoga teacher training course and 300 hours of advanced Hatha Yoga teacher training with the International Yoga Academy with Master Yogananth Andiappan as her main teacher. Anuja is also an active member of Andiappan yoga community a non-profit, volunteer-run organization whose mission is to share Yoga with those who may not be able to afford Yoga classes or those with special needs. She has also been teaching Yoga privately to a passionate and active group of students who have credited her teaching style.

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Picture Credit : Anuja Chowdry

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