Surya Namaskar or sun salutation is one of the most widely practiced and famous asanas. It involves a sequential practice of 12 different interlinked asanas. The set of these 12 asanas is a practice of dedication to the Hindu God Surya. The etymological roots of the word show us that the name is taken from two Sanskrit words. Surya meaning the Sun and Namaskar meaning greeting or salutation. It is believed that the practice of this is most beneficial when done in the morning. It is a great way to make your body experience various physical and mental health benefits, while also extending your gratitude to the source of life.  Talking of benefits, we have a list of excellent health benefits of Surya Namaskar along with the procedure of doing this asana and the precaution one is supposed to take. Read on to know more.For centuries, people from all civilizations have offered prayers to the sun – the ultimate source of life and energy. One such practice is the yogic sequence of Surya Namaskar. Let’s get to know this unique practice better and understand its multifaceted benefits:

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What is Surya Namaskar?

Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is an ancient technique of paying respects to the sun. Constituting of 12 different postures, it is a form of expressing gratitude to this source of all life on earth.

Does it have any base in science?

Yes, it does. In fact, it is essential to understand the science behind this ancient technique. This will help you approach this powerful yoga practice with the right outlook. Ancient Indian sages have said different energies govern different parts of the body. For instance, the solar plexus that is located behind the navel is connected to the Sun. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar enhances the size of the solar plexus. This, in turn, increases your creativity, intuitive abilities, decision-making, confidence and leadership skills. This is why the practice of Surya Namaskar is highly recommended.

When can I do these asanas?

You can do Surya Namaskar at any time of the day. However, it is best to do it at sunrise. This is when the sun rays help revitalize the body and refresh the mind. There are benefits of doing Surya Namaskar at other times of the day too. If you practice it in the afternoon, it energizes your body instantly whereas when done at dusk, it helps you unwind. 

How to do Surya Namaskar

Here is a brief introduction to the sequence you need to follow while doing this asana. Spend 30 seconds on each posture.

The Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Start by standing upright and bringing your palms together in front of the chest.

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Now, lift your arms up in such a way that your biceps are placed right next to your ears. Slightly bend backwards and make sure you stretch your entire body.

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Hastapadasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

Bend forward from the waist and keep your spine straight. Place your palms flat on the floor besides your feet.

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AshwaSanchalasana (Equestrian Pose)

Push your left leg as far back as possible, bend your right knee and place your hands next to your right foot. Look forward by raising your head

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Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Pose)

Take a deep breath and bring your left foot back. Ensure that both your hands are below the shoulders and body remains parallel to the ground

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Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with Eight Parts)

Bring your knees to the floor and slide forward so as to make your chin and chest rest on the floor. Make sure that your hands, feet, knees, chest ad chin are the only things touching the floor, just these eight parts.

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Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Slide the body forward and lift your chest. Fix your gaze upwards and make sure your shoulders are placed away from your ears.

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Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Keeping your feet and palms as they are, lift your hips by straightening the knees and elbows. The body must form a ‘V’ shape.

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AshwaSanchalasana (Equestrian Pose)

From downward dog pose return to AshwaSanchalasana or the Equestrian Pose.

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Hastapadasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

Take a deep breath and from the Equestrian pose again go back to the Hand to Foot pose.

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Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

By lifting your upper body take a deep breath and follow the steps as you performed in step two.

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Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Exhale, lower your arms and bring the palms in front of the chest which marks the end of the Surya Namaskar series.

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Surya Namaskar Benefits

Helps in losing weight

This combination of 12 asanas, when practiced rigorously, turns out to be an extensive cardio routine. It helps you to shed down any extra calories and also helps you in toning your arms and abs. 

Improves digestion

The asanas in this practice which involve forward bending helps in creating abdominal space so that the accumulated gas is released. The asanas also regulate blood circulation which ensures a faster and better breaking up of food.

Improves posture

The practice of this asana requires you to stretch your body multiple times. During the times of stretching, you make sure that your spine is straight. This in turn helps you maintain a comfortable and straight posture.

Relieving and strengthening muscles

The extensive involvement of your body prepares your muscles and joints to endure pressure. This in turn, strengthens them. Not only that, the involvement of these very muscle helps in releasing any kind of tension gathered up within the body. A regular practice of Surya Namaskar can help you become equipped enough to deal with the-every cramps and body aches.

Improves Skin’s glow

As we have discussed previously, the asana has a great impact on your heart and the flow of blood. This then impacts the freshness, rejuvenation and glow of our skin. It also tightens it and makes it firm, saving it from any kind of premature wrinkles.

Gives you morning energy

The practice of this yoga early in the morning, amidst the fresh morning breeze, helps you to relax your mind and make it fresh. The freshness of the mind ensures that you energize each and every part of your body and carry out an active day

Helps you detox

The asanas require you to carry out long and deep inhalation and exhalation process. This results in proper ventilation of your lungs where sufficient amounts of oxygen reach your body. This, in turn, helps in detoxifying the body.

Improves sleep schedule

As this yogic exercise is carried out early in the morning, a regular practice of it will set up a body clock because of which you will automatically start waking up on time. Now that you’re waking up early, your body will function efficiently throughout the day and then tires enough to put you to bed early. This cycle of going to bed early and waking up early, improves your sleep schedule.

Ensures hormonal balance and a regular menstrual cycle

A regular practice of Surya Namaskar will help in suppressing the irregularities in your menstrual cycle and will ensure a proper cycle by keeping a check on the hormonal balance.  It will also ensure ease during childbirth. 

Helps you in maintaining a positive vibe

The practice of this yoga is capable of giving a very relaxing and relieving feeling. It helps you remove all the clustered thoughts from your mind and reach a state of mindfulness and tranquillity. It fills you with happiness, contentment and positivity.

Improves Hair Growth

Surya Namaskar improves blood circulation to the scalp, thereby preventing hair loss. The increased blood circulation nourishes the head and enables healthy hair growth. Different poses help prevent greying of hair.

For Children

With cut-throat competition everywhere, children are exposed to stress and anxiety at an early age. Surya Namaskar helps children calm their mind, improve concentration, and build endurance. It reduces the feeling of anxiety and restlessness, especially during exams. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar also gives strength and vitality to the body. It also aids in muscle growth and making the body more flexible. Children as young as five-year-old can also practice Surya Namaskar daily.

For women 

Surya Namaskar is a boon for any health-conscious person. Some of the Sun Salutation poses help lose extra fat around the belly and let you stay in shape, naturally. These poses stimulate sluggish glands like the thyroid gland and induce it to increase hormonal secretions. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar helps women regulate irregular menstrual cycles and assist in childbirth. Further, it helps the face glow and also prevents wrinkles.

Enhances intuition

Regular practice of Surya Namaskar and meditation helps the almond-sized solar plexus grow and become as big as one’s palm. This expansion of solar plexus helps develops your intuitive ability and bring more focus. On the other hand, the contraction of the solar plexus can lead to depression and other negative tendencies.So, it’s highly recommended to practice Surya Namaskar regularly and experience its manifold benefits.

Points of Precautions       

  • People with bone weakness or muscle weakness should avoid it.·       

  • The sequence should be avoided by people who suffer from high blood pressure.·   

  • Those suffering from arthritis should avoid Surya Namaskar series.·      

  • Injuries to the wrist can worsen with poses like cobra pose, downward dog pose, etc.,·       

  • Pregnant women should not indulge in practicing this series (only under expert guidance it can be practiced).

  • Yoga isn’t something that you learn overnight. Therefore take your time and always enjoy the practice without putting yourself under too much pressure.