Detailed beginners guide to Sun Salutation
Venturing into Surya Namaskara as a way of dealing with stressful life situation may sound tricky but is considered one of the safest and most powerful techniques that can be used in times of major emotional, physical, or even mental breakdowns. Scroll down to learn Surya Namaskar, why is it important, and how to do it correctly.
What is Surya Namaskar? Why is it called so?
Simply speaking, Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar is a 12-step combination of 7 poses, done with rhythmic breathing and chantings. Surya Namaskar as a 12 step practice is not talked of in Vedic scriptures as such but is now a must-include in any Yoga session that you see. It is used as a way to mobilize the joints, strengthen the muscles, and also used very commonly with Vinyasa as an ‘active meditation’.
Traditionally in Hindu religion, every important element of life is represented in the form of a deity. The Surya Devta (Sun God) is one of the supreme Gods. Sun Salutation (as the name suggests) is a way to pay regards to the Sun – the energy provider & the source of everything. That can be done in a lot of ways. One of the ways is this 12-step sequence. If you are wondering what kind of a prayer or salutation is this, remember, all customs in the dharma (religion) were always scientific. But some traditions do not hold correct now because only the custom remains, not the intention or reason behind it.
Worshipping the sun on a daily basis is still common practice in many parts of India today. As for Surya Namaskar in Hatha Yoga, this kind of prayer also yields physical, mental, and spiritual benefits for the doer.
Why Surya Namaskara?
Benefits of Sun Salutation...
‘DON’T underestimate the power of Surya Namaskar‘
Along with numerous health benefits, Sun Salutations provides a stepping stone in the direction of a healthy lifestyle. Just the single act of doing the practice first thing in the morning sets the tone for an energetic and positive day. The process of waking up early to do your asanas can change your day giving you more time and freedom for the things you enjoy doing. But of course the health benefits are some of the most important things to focus on.
1. Dynamic meditation
Anything done with coordination and integration for a long time builds the momentum for meditation. People can meditate while creating music, or painting or even listening to the noises around them. Through Surya Namaskara, the body, breath, and mind coordinate to build repetition of some asanas which brings you into an active meditative state. (builds awareness and mindfulness).
2. Improves concentration
You rightly guessed, meditation or not, The 12 rounds practice of surya namaskar daily can help build great focus in life. You are constantly working on coordinating the movements, checking the alignment, breathing rhythmically, and on top of that ensure not to lose the balance. Pheww! If you are building up your practice like this, you can see drastic changes in your concentration as well as patience level.
Extra: Click here to check our YouTube Yoga sequence for memory and concentration.
3. Anxiety & stress management
Do not even get us started on how wonderfully the Sun Salutations works on psychological body. Most asanas in the sequence work dynamically on the blood circulatory as well as nervous system. It builds presence unlike any other form of exercise as there is work on coordination of the body with the breath. When the breath slows down, the mind calms down. That’s all which is needed to gradually come out of stress or anxiety.
Extra: click here to check amazing pranayama to relief stress (redirects to YouTube).
Yes! It does help a lot. A boost to oxygen intake, rich circulation of blood to the brain, proactivity in the whole body. This builds up mindfulness without having to sit and meditate Meditation can actually be very daunting to do so in times of vulnerability. Sun Salutations actively works on endocrine system & nervous system which can empower one in various ways.
You can experiment with it! Give it 21 days of your full dedication, even if you do not emotionally feel up to it. Through that consistency, you’ll find yourself in a better state by the 21st day.
Extra: click here to see 5 Yoga poses for depression (redirects to YouTube).
5. Digestive tract disorders
Most experienced and least talked of is our very own “stomach ache” issues. Gas, acidity, indigestion, or cramps, surely you have gone through one of these in your life (if not, you are very lucky and probably healthy too). All of these issues can arise due to physical or psychological disturbances in the system. It is no news that the first system that is attacked when the body undergoes stress is the gut (the digestive system). Physically, if your sleeping and eating pattern is not right, the digestive system goes for a toss too. In all situations, Sun salutation can help you alter the situation by gradually balancing and centering you (and your thoughts), as well as massaging the digestive organs, releasing what is stuck, clear out all the redundant things, making the tract fresh again.
For gastric problems, stomach ache, do 12-24 rounds daily.
Tip: Also follow the Indea Yoga Beginner series on YouTube to begin your Yoga journey.
6. Weight loss
There are millions suffering from obesity or are overweight. This overweight represents that something is wrong inside. The body doesn’t gain weight for nothing. Either the sedentary lifestyle, or eating habits, or some organ dysfunction, anything can lead to overweight. This overweight translates as a burden to other systems of the body and starts a vicious circle of degradation of body and mind. To break the circle, Surya Namaskar comes handy as one of the easiest ways to tone the muscles, massage the organs, build mobility and strength overall. If you start slow, build gradually, & practice consistently, you will be surprised at the tremendous modifications the body will start to experience within the first 21 days of practice.
Extra: click here to out our YouTube sequence for weight loss.
7. Respiratory issues
As Sun Salutations have a strong work on coordinating breath with every movement, gradually the breathing becomes rhythmic easily and lung capacity also improves. In addition to this, the blockages from the respiratory tract also start to release. Problems like asthma, bronchitis, and other nasal allergies can easily improve but it only happens with a regular and consistent practice. Also, over doing your breathing with Surya Namaskar also does not yield the desired outcome. Be generous to your body and build your practice gradually.
Extra: click here to get the full Yoga sequence for asthma & bronchitis on our Youtube channel.
8. Reproductive health
Impotency (erectile disfunction) to males and PCOD to females are very difficult to experience. The body loses energy causing dizziness, females start to gain extra weight, and males start to get headaches. Though completely different medically, both the conditions take a toll on the sufferer’s mental state too. Active practice of Surya Namaskara can help improve the conditions and bring about positive changes in the system. Menstrual or period cramps can also be relieved with regular and consistent practice.
Extra: click here to learn how to deal with PCOD, PCOS, and Menstrual problems.
9. Posture improvements
Have you noticed that one side of your body works better than the other? Or that when you stand, you keep the weight on only one leg (that is generally the same side leg every time)? With our current lifestyle, Kyphosis and Lordosis are two of the major posture problems that our generation is suffering from. The milder versions are called hunch back and hollow back. Besides these major wrong postures, there are some other things we do, like keeping all the weight on toes or all the way back into the heels, the upper body swaying too forward or too back, pigeon neck, rounded slouched shoulders, standing with wall support, leaning the upper body to the left/right to use the arm rest.
Yes, check it, are you doing any of these without realizing? Surya Namaskara is your daily dose of posture improvement. Once the weight starts to get balanced equally in all four directions, you can save yourself from a lot of future injuries and conditions.
Extra: click here to learn how to improve hunchback.
10. Improves joint flexibility and overall strength
Do you know, the most potential benefit of Surya Namaskara which actually makes it famous among practitioners is only its capacity to work on multiple joints and muscle simultaneously. Also, the dynamism that it offers to the yoga practitioners is tremendous. It can be combined with bandhas, mudras, and different postures and done or taught in a flow. It works as a great practice for overall holistic growth of the practitioner.
Extra: click here for a 20 min special Vinyasa flow for intermediate and advanced practitioners.
How to do Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)?
Things to remember:
- It is best to do your yoga practice in the morning or in the evening. Even better if you practice right before sunrise or right after sunset.
- Ensure you are light on your stomach. Even better if empty stomach.
- Fix a place where you aim at practicing everyday. Minimum distractions, preferably indoors to avoid too much wind, sufficient lighting.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Anything will do which does not limit your practice.
- Use a yoga mat or a towel or a cotton cloth for practicing. Floor may be too cold and hard to practice.
IMPORTANT: Correct method of practice makes the difference between a rejuvenating practice and an exhausting one, so make sure that you put your emphasis on the alignment of the body rather than getting through each posture quickly.
Are you ready?
Here we go…
Detailed Guide to do Surya Namaskar – Step by Step
In this video, learn step by step all asana of Surya Namaskara
(01:45) Step-1 Namaskarasana
(02:00) Step-2 Urdhvahastasana
(02:30) Step-3 Padahastasana
(03:08) Step-4 Eka pada prasaranasana
(03:46) Step-5 Dwi-pada prasaranasana / plank pose
(04:23) Step-6 Sashtanga Namaskara
(05:05) Step-7 Bhujangasana / cobra pose
(05:32) Step-8 Budarasana / mountain pose
Step-9 Eka pada prasaranasana
(07:15) Surya Namaskara with breathings (inhalation/exhalation)
If you really want to get the best benefits out of Surya Namaskara, make sure you are doing it right. every time. If you are not sure whether you are doing it right or not, check these commonly made mistakes that will help you to become aware of what possibly you could be doing wrong.
Now you know Surya Namaskara and also know how to practice it correctly. Because you made it till here, we have something for you.
Here is a 20 minute Practice-along video, instructed by Indea Yoga Founder, Bharath Shetty himself. If you want to practice 12 rounds daily with great motivation and not worrying about the counting, this is going to help you a lot. All the best!
At Indea Yoga, 4th Saturday of every month is a day devoted to YOGA YATRA, where each person joins in for 108 rounds of Surya Namaskar guided by the founder and senior teachers of Indea Yoga. The program is followed by a conceptual workshop or a masterclass for beginners or advance practitioners. If Surya Namaskara or Yoga interests you, you can join in the Yatra with us.