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

12 Steps of Surya Namaskar
Individual Postures of The 12 Steps of Surya Namaskar. Source

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. “Surya” means ‘Sun’ and “Namaskar” means to do ‘Namaste‘. Hence, Surya Namaskar is also a yogic process of bowing down and praying to the mighty Sun.

Moreover, it is a technique that 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.

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Guidelines for Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar (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.)

Surya Namaskar Instructions - Sun Salutation Step by Step
Source
Important Guidelines Before You Begin Surya Namaskar
  • Similar to most Yoga asanas, a Yoga Mat is highly recommended for this one too.
  • 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.

12 Steps of Surya Namaskar

Here is the detailed instruction of the 12 steps of Surya Namaskar (Namaskaram), techniques, process, and mantras one should follow along with the individual benefits of each asana of Surya Namaskar, also known as Sun Salutation.

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 the full intake of oxygen.

Lung capacity is fully utilized.

3. Hasta Padasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Hasta Padasana (Standing Forward Bend) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
Hasta Padasana (Standing Forward Bend). 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.
  • It 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.
  • It makes the spine and neck flexible.
  • Good for indigestion, constipation, and sciatica.

5. Phalakasana (Plank Pose)

Phalakasana (Plank Pose) by african woman
Phalakasana (Plank 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:
  • Phalakasana 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)

Cobra Pose - Bhujangasana
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
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. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). 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:
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana 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 (Standing Forward Bend)

Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose) - Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
Hasta Padasana (Standing Forward Bend). 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.
  • It 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 backwards.
  • 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 the 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 sets 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

Since ages, human beings from various civilizations have honoured and prayed to the sun, which is the prime source of life and energy. Sun salutation is one such powerful practice of having gratitude and paying respect to the mighty Sun.

At the same time, Sun holds great significance both religiously and scientifically as it is said to be the ultimate source of life itself. Today, even science acknowledges the healing powers of the Sun.

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

1. Enhances Solar Plexes – Increases Intuition

The Solar Plexus is located in the center of the torso above the navel, it is a central location for nerves within the abdominal area.

The ancient Vedic scriptures have mentioned that different energies govern different parts of the body. The solar plexus that governs intuitiveness (our gut feelings), is said to be connected to the Sun. Surya Namaskar is mentioned as a way to align the solar plexus with the Sun since it is believed that the solar plexus is governed by the sun itself.

Thus the regular practice of Surya Namaskar is said to enhance the size of the solar plexus – form size of an almond to the size of a fully blossomed lotus. In turn, this expansion of solar plexus helps to develop our intuitive ability and bring more focus. Thus, it increases our creativity, awareness, decision-making, confidence, and leadership skills.

On the other hand, the contraction of the solar plexus can lead to depression and other negative tendencies.

2. Physical Fitness and Mental Freshness

Anybody who properly does the Surya Namaskar for the first time knows that it isn’t like ‘a walk in the park’. With regular practice, it becomes easier and something you wouldn’t want to miss out on any day. It is because, anyone who practices the 12 steps of Sun Salutation daily would know how it helps to keep one fit, both physically and mentally.

While balancing between fast pace and slow pace rounds of Surya Namaskar, it, in turn, works as the perfect workout for both cardio as well as a full-body stretching regime. Eventually, after finishing the session and lying down on ‘Shavasana’, it helps to body and mind to settle and stay calm.

3. Improves Digestion

The sequence of yoga postures in Surya Namaskar is good for the digestive system. The digestive fire gets activated while practicing Sun Salutation due to the alternate stretching and compression of the abdominal organs.

As a result, it helps get rid of constipation, stomach problems. Its practice also increases the blood flow to the digestive tract and stimulates intestinal action for smooth digestion as well as elimination. Plus, it can also help get rid of constipation and dyspepsia.

4. Toned and Flexible Muscles and Joints

All the asanas carried out in Surya Namaskar involves the overall muscle groups and joints in our body. This helps us tone almost all your body parts including arms, abs, thighs, and butt.

When done correctly, it improves posture and balance. It is especially good for shoulder, neck and leg muscles. Plus, it improves flexibility in the spine and limbs, and can also help increase height.

5. Improves Blood Circulation In The Overall Body

Having a thorough workout that includes overall body stretches and contraction along with an active inhalation and exhalation keeps the blood oxygenated and lungs ventilated. The optimal flow of fresh blood in the body is a great way to detox the body making it free from toxic elements and carbon dioxide.

Additionally, the benefits of having improved blood circulation will have numerous healthy-effects, all over the body.

6. Reduces Tension, Stress, and Anxiety

Practicing the 12 steps of Surya Namaskar daily helps reduce tension buildup and promotes relaxation of the whole body, it is considered very effective for people suffering from stress, anxiety and even depression.

It helps reduce the stress hormone known as cortisol, which can make one feel stressed and depressed. Plus, it increases the production of “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin.

7. Regulates Menstrual Cycles

Surya Namaskar poses stimulate sluggish glands like the thyroid gland and induce it to increase hormonal secretions. Also, it helps control the pituitary and adrenal glands, which in turn ensure regularity of the menstrual cycle and reduce pain during menstruation.

8. Helps In Unwanted-Weight Loss

Surya Namaskar, when done regularly and properly is an intensive physical exercise that works on every part of the body and can help to burn extra calories. Moreover, some of the postures stretch the abdominal muscles, which is very effective in reducing excess belly fat and maintaining a flat stomach.

You can slowly increase the number of rounds of 12 sets, day by day. Then, simply observe how the excess weight in the body will begin to disappear.

9. A Radiant Skin

Doing the Surya Namaskar yoga daily will keep your skin young by improving the blood circulation to all parts of the body. It makes your face glow with radiance, by increasing energy and vitality. This helps the skin retain its firmness. Also, Surya Namaskar prevents the onset of wrinkles by relieving the body and mind of stress.

10.  Stops Hair Loss

Increased blood circulation in the body also boosts blood circulation to the scalp. As a result, it nourishes the head, improves healthy hair growth and eventually prevents hair loss. Additionally, having nourished hair also helps to prevent gray hair and dandruff.

11. Controls Diabetes

Practicing Surya Namaskar is also beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes. Some of the yoga postures help stimulate the pancreas by exerting pressure on it as well as improve the production and use of insulin.

Additionally, here are some more benefits of a regular practice of Surya Namaskar.

  • Reduces Insomnia
  • Detoxification
  • Strengthens backbone
  • Enables better absorption of nutrients

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.

(Last Updated On: May 23, 2020)

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