The Complete Guide for Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation Instructions

Surya Namaskar is a powerful yoga technique which combines the twelve asanas (yogic postures), breath, and mantras (Vedic hymns), in a sequence.  Also named as ‘The King of Yoga‘ by many great saints, it is popularly called Sun Salutation, especially in the West. The perfect yoga exercise provides a good cardiovascular workout which will keep the body in shape and the mind calm and healthy.

Since ancient times, Rishis (Vedic Saints) recommended the practice of Surya Namaskar because the regular practice of this technique gives numerous benefits. It enhances our creative and intuitive abilities along with various health and mental benefits. Moreover, it is a technique which is relatively easy, can be done almost anywhere and anytime. In fact, it is one of the best fitness regimes anyone could follow to become physically as well as mentally fit.

12 Steps of Surya Namaskar

Individual Postures of The 12 Steps of Surya Namaskar. Source

Guidelines for Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation Instructions)

Sun Salutation consists of a set of 12 yoga asanas and completing one round of Surya Namaskar requires one to repeat the set of 12 yoga asanas. Which means, one round of the Yoga set requires repeating the 12 yogic postures, once stepping the right leg forward and then stepping the left leg forward in the second half of the round. (As shown in steps 4 and 9 shown below.)

Important Guidelines Before you begin Surya Namaskar

  • Similar to most Yoga asanas, a Yoga Mat is highly recommended for this one too. (Here are some best Yoga Mats you can find online.)
  • Each asana should be done synchronizing the rhythm of the breath and body movement.
  • Bending and stretching should be done only slightly more than the level of comfort and overdoing any asana could also bring injuries.
  • A light warm-up must be done before doing any yoga to prevent muscle injuries.
  • It is always beneficial to chant the mantra, however, it is not mandatory.
  • It is advised to start the session in a slower rhythm and then slowly increase the speed.
  • Yoga is advised to be done at the time of dawn or morning. However, it isn’t compulsory. It can be done at any time.
  • For a deeper experience, you may relax in each posture for some time, after chanting your mantra and keep taking long and deep breaths in and out.
  • Then, when you feel comfortable you make move on to the next step of asana.
  • It is advised for a woman not to do Surya Namaskar during the time of her menstruation period.

Here are the detailed instruction of the steps, techniques, process, and mantras one should follow along with the individual benefits of each asana.

12 Steps and Asanas of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation Steps)

1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Pranamasana (Prayer Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • Facing towards the East, stand straight on your Yoga Mat and let your body lose.
  • Adjoin your feet together, keeping an equal amount of weight on each of them.
  • As you breathe in, lift both your arms from sideways.
  • Exhale and join your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.
  • Take a deep Breath in and Chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Mitraaya Namaha’

The significance of the Asana:

  • Pranamasana helps maintain the balance of the body.
  • Relaxes the nervous system.

2. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you inhale, lift up the arms and keep the biceps close to the ears.
  • Push the pelvis slightly forward.
  • Focus on the stretch of the whole body, from the heels up to the tips of the fingers.
  • Make sure to focus on reaching/stretching up from fingers rather than trying to bend backward.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Ravaye Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Hasta Uttanasana stretches and tones the muscles of the abdomen.
  • Expands the chest resulting in a full intake of oxygen.

Lung capacity is fully utilized.

3. Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you exhale, bend forward from the waist.
  • Make sure that your spine stays erect as you bend forward.
  • As you breathe out completely, try to touch the floor next to the feet.
  • If necessary, you may bend your knees, to easily touch the floor.
  • Then, gently try to make the knees straight.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Suryaya Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Hasta Padasana makes the waist and spine flexible.
  • Stretches the hamstrings.
  • Opens the hips, shoulders, and arms.

4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you inhale, take your right leg back, pushing it as far back as possible.
  • Rest your right knee to the floor.
  • Now feeling the stretch in the arms, hamstrings and back, look up towards the ceiling.
  • Ensure that the left foot is perpendicular to the ground which is exactly in between the palms.
  • Also, the entire surface of both your palms should touch the floor.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Bhaanave Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Ashwa Sanchalanasana strengthens the leg muscles.
  • Makes the spine and neck flexible.
  • Good for indigestion, constipation, and sciatica.

5. Dandasana (Stick Pose)

Dandasana (Stick Pose)

Dandasana (Stick Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you inhale, move your left leg back and make your body straight.
  • Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.
  • Make sure to look straight ahead and your back is straight as well.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Khagaya Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Dandasana strengthens the arms and back.
  • Improves posture.
  • Stretches the shoulders, chest, and spine.
  • Calms the mind.

6. Shishuasana (Child Pose) – Ashtanga Namaskara Asana (Salute with Eight Parts Pose)

Shishuasana (Child Pose) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Shishuasana (Child Pose). Source

Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with Eight Parts Pose) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with Eight Parts Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • In this step, you should first do Shishuasana (Child Pose) momentarily and then shift to Ashtanga Namaskara Asana (Salute with Eight Parts Pose).
  • Rest both your knees down on the floor.
  • As you exhale, take your hips back and rest on your heels momentarily.
  • Then slide forward and rest your chest, knees, and chin on the floor.
  • Make sure that your pelvis is raised a little bit and doesn’t touch the floor.
  • Only the two hands, two feet, two knees, chest and chin (eight parts of the body touch the floor).
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Pooshne Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Ashtanga Namaskara enhances the flexibility of the back and spine.
  • Strengthens the back muscles.
  • Reduces tension and anxiety.

7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you inhale, slide forward and raise the chest and look up at the ceiling.
  • Make sure that you bend your elbows and the shoulders are not close to the ears.
  • Your back should form an arc from the navel region and both the legs should be together.
  • If you prefer holding on to this posture  for a deeper stretch, you can inhale and make a gentle effort to push the chest forward;
  • Then, as you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down.
  • As mentioned above, do not overdo the posture and stretch only slightly more than what you feel absolutely comfortable.
  • To complete the posture, become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Hiranya Garbhaya Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Bhujangasana stretches the shoulders, chest, and back.
  • Increases flexibility.
  • Elevates mood.

Invigorates the heart.

8. Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

Parvatasana (Mountain Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you exhale, lift your hips and lower your chest.
  • Now, both your feet should be on the ground and the chin should be touching your chest.
  • As both your palm and your feet rest on the floor, your hip should be pointed upwards.
  • In this posture, your body should be like an inverted V (/\) posture.
  • Both your knees along with your back should be straight.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Mareechaye Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Parvatasana strengthens the muscles of the arms and legs.
  • It gives a very good stretch on the hamstrings.
  • Increases blood flow to the spinal region.

9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you inhale, shift your right leg forward and push your left leg back as far as possible.
  • Rest your left knee to the floor.
  • Now feeling the stretch in the things and back, look up towards the ceiling.
  • Ensure that the right foot is perpendicular to the ground and is exactly in between the palms.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Aadityaaya Namaha

Significance of the Asana:

  • Ashwa Sanchalanasana tones the abdominal organs.
  • Adds flexibility to leg muscles.

10. Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you exhale, shift your left foot forward between the right leg and left palm.
  • Keep both the palms on the floor and try to touch the knees with your nose.
  • Try straightening both the knees, a little more than what you feel comfortable.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Savitre Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Hasta Padasana stretches the hamstrings.
  • Opens the hips, shoulders, and arms.

11. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • As you inhale, lift up your arms and spine.
  • Slightly, bend backward and keep the biceps close to the ears.
  • Push the pelvis slightly forward.
  • Focus on the stretch of the whole body, from the heels up to the tips of the fingers.
  • Make sure to focus on stretching up from fingers rather than trying to bend backward.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Inhale and chant the mantra.

Mantra:

Om Arkaaya Namaha’

The significance of the Asana:

  • Hasta Uttanasana stretches and tones the muscles of the abdomen.
  • Expands the chest resulting in a full intake of oxygen.
  • Lung capacity is fully utilized.

12. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Pranamasana (Prayer Pose) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Pranamasana (Prayer Pose). Source

Instructions:

  • Facing towards the East, stand straight and let your body lose.
  • Adjoin your feet together, keeping an equal amount of weight on each of them.
  • As you exhale, straighten the body, bring the arms forward and join your palms together in front of your chest in prayer position.
  • Become stable and relax in the position.
  • Take a deep Breath in and Chant the mantra.
  • Relax and observe the sensations in your body.

Mantra:

Om Bhaskaraya Namaha

The significance of the Asana:

  • Tadasana improves posture.
  • Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles.
  • Relieves sciatica.

Now, you have completed the first half round of Surya Namaskar. To complete the other half, repeat the same 12 set of Asanas but replace your right leg’s postures with the left leg and vice-versa on step 4 and 9.

Instructions_Surya Namaskar

Individual Postures of The 12 Steps of Surya Namaskar. Source

Benefits of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Even completing a single round of Surya Namaskar properly can make you feel rejuvenated and alive. Moreover, a regular practice of Surya Namaskar has numerous benefits. Such as:

  • Unwanted-weight Loss
  • Increases Mental Fitness/Confidence
  • Decreases Anxiety
  • Strengthens Muscles and Joints
  • Improves Digestion
  • A Radiant Skin
  • Increases one’s creativity abilities
  • Increases one’s intuitive abilities
  • Helps cope with Insomnia
  • Ensures regular menstrual cycle
  • Brings down blood sugar levels
  • Detoxification
  • Strengthens backbone

We may find several versions of Surya Namaskar. However, for the best results, it is recommended to follow one particular set and practice it regularly.

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