Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) combines Yogasanas (yoga postures) and Pranayama (yoga breathing). It brings about the general flexibility of the body preparing it for Asanas and Pranayama. This is usually done both at sunrise and sunset, facing the Sun. That’s why it is named Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)!
The Benefits Of Surya Namaskar
The Sun Salutation is a warm-up exercise that should be practiced before starting the other Asanas. It is made up of 12 different spinal positions giving various vertebral movements to the spinal column. It brings great flexibility to the spine and limbs.
These 12 steps actually is a yoga pose itself which mean you are actually doing a few yoga poses and gaining their benefits at the same time by doing one round of Sun Salutation.
For stiff people the Sun Salutation is a great boon in helping to regain lost flexibility. The Sun Salutation helps to regulate the breathing and focus the mind.
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Tone muscles and improves flexibility
All the yoga poses carried out in Surya Namaskar focus on different muscle groups and nerve centers called Chakras.
This helps you tone almost all your body parts including arms, abs, thighs, and butt. It also gives you more flexibility and improves your body posture.
Great cardio training and hormonal balance
Sun Salutation gives your body a quick and nice workout. If done in a fast manner, it acts as a cardio workout for your abs, thighs, and butt. And improved blood circulation results in low cholesterol levels and improved heart health.
Another benefit of proper blood circulation is a good hormonal balance. Keep in mind that blood is the carrier of our hormones. Therefore, if it is working properly, they will reach all your organs without a problem.
Improves digestion and promotes weight loss
Proper exercise and proper rest along with a balanced diet result in improved insulin sensitivity. Sun salutations stimulate the digestive tract by producing the right kind of digestive juices.
Thus, you improve your metabolism, which helps you get rid of all toxins and burn all the extra calories.
Increases energy and awareness levels
Along with asanas, the breathing pattern is also an important aspect of Sun Salutation. This gives deep conscious relaxation to the body and mind.
It helps to relax the mind and sharpen the senses. It increases your self-awareness, which increases your energy levels.
Enables Better Absorption of Nutrients
Proper blood circulation and digestion enables better absorption of nutrients which in turn improves your overall health. Nutrient absorption helps to carry out vital functions in the body.
In today’s world, unhealthy lifestyles have led to many disorders like thyroid dysfunction, PCOD, PCOS, obesity, etc. Sun Salutation can be part of a healthy routine which is proven to keep such diseases at bay.
Reduces moods swings and brings more emotional stability
Deep breathing techniques with specific asanas provide great relaxation to the nerve cells or chakras.
It can positively impact brain functioning. Specifically, it helps you balance between the right and left sides of the brain.
This brings you more emotional stability and increases your creativity and mental capacity.
Improves Your Skin’s Glow
A nice glowing skin is a result of good blood circulation, good digestion, relaxation and good sleep. You get all of this with Sun Salutations!
Yoga Sun Salutation Sequence
There are mainly two modes of performing Sun Salutation. In one, there are 12 steps and in the other only 10 in each round. Each stage of Sun Salutation is accompanied by regulation of breath.
You might have come across many versions of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation). There are just different variation being created. In order not to confuse you, over here I’m talking about the original traditional Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation).
Technically, Sun Salutation is not an asana, but a series of gentle flowing movements synchronized with the breath. Once you have learned the positions of the Sun Salutation, it is important to tune them to a rhythmical breathing pattern. Try to do 6-12 cycles of the Sun Salutation every day.
If you have no time or cannot remember those yoga poses you have learned, you can just do Sun Salutation only every day which is enough for your day.
Below is the 12 steps Yoga Sun Salutation steps printable image for your convenience. An explanation of the steps are as follows after the image.
12-step Sun Salutation
Stand erect with legs together. Bring the palms together at the chest in the Prayer position. This is a powerful physical, mental, and psychic way of centering the body.
- Take the hands above the head while inhaling and bend the trunk backwards.
- Bend the body forward while exhaling. Work on chest toward thighs. Keep the palms on the floor on either side of the feet. (Bend both knees if you are not flexible enough)
- In this step breath in and kick the right leg back. Push the buttock forward and downward so that the left leg is perpendicular to the ground. Look up.
- In this step, exhale and take the left leg also back, resting only on palms and toes. Keep the body straight from head to toes inclined to the ground at about 30 degree. Take care to keep the neck in line with the back.
- While inhaling, bend the legs at the knees and rest them on the floor with buttocks towards the heels without altering the position of the palms and toes. Exhale as you rest the forehead on the floor. Then relax in normal breathing.
- While exhaling without shifting the positions of hands and toes, glide the body forward and hold the breath and rest the forehead (or chin), chest, hands, knees and toes on the ground. Raise the buttock off the ground. Note that eight points of the body are in contact with the ground – hence the name sastanga namaskara (Salutation with eight parts).
- Inhale, raise the head and trunk making the spine concave upwards without lifting the position of the hands and feet. Arch the back as far as you can until the elbows are straight. (If your back can’t arch much, do with elbows bend. Keep your shoulders rounded)
- While exhaling, raise the buttocks, push the head down until the heels touch the ground without shifting the position of hands and feet. (It’s okay if your heels can’t touch the ground!)
- Same as step 5.
- Inhale and bring the right leg in between the two hands. Arch the back concave upwards as in step 3 until the right leg is perpendicular to the ground.
- Exhale and bring the left foot forward next to the right foot and reach down with your upper body to work on chest toward thighs as in step 2. (Bend both knees if you are not flexible enough)
- While inhaling, come up to step 1 and then back starting position. This completes one round of Sun Salutation.
You are now ready to begin the next Sun Salutation cycle. In the steps shown here, you are asked to lead with the right leg, but for the next cycle, you should lead with the left leg.
10-step Sun Salutation
In 10-step Sun Salutation, the 5th and 9th stages are omitted. Therefore, it’s tougher as compare with the 12 step Sun Salutation. Because the 5th and 9th stages actually allow you to relax for a few seconds before you continue with the cycle. And it also need more arms and shoulders strength to go to the next stages.
Below is the 10 steps Yoga Sun Salutation steps image for your reference.
Note: Please perform the yoga under the guide of a certified yoga teacher especially for beginner. You are at your own risk and responsible if you perform on your own. Whatever provided here is just act as an information.
Click below to watch the Video
Some important tips to keep in mind when you do Sun Salutations:
- Do not have a full meal before the practice
- Do maintain correct body postures
- Do have proper and rhythmic breathing
- Do follow the steps in order
- Do increase the number of repetitions gradually
- Do train yourself on a daily basis
- Do keep awareness while doing each pose
- Do start these exercises at a slow pace
- Don’t begin in a random order
- Don’t be in a hurry about the number of repetitions you can do
Are you interested to join my yoga class in Singapore? You may check it out for more details in my another blog post HERE.
You have any thought or experience you would love to share? You are welcome to share in my comments box provided below. I am more than happy to hear from you..:-) Make sure to click on the social share buttons on this article and share it with others so that people learn too. Give a Like to my article too! Thank you.
The sun salutation sounds like a great routine to do once a day, I can see by the pictures and your descriptions that many parts of the body benefit from these exercises. I may try this out to improve my posture. Can you suggest any other routines for posture and lower back strength?
Yes John, this sun salutation can practice daily and even twice a day if you have the time! One in the morning before breakfast and one in the evening before dinnner. It really a nice practice as it get your whole entire body being stretch. Because it is working with the breath too therefore it has a good effect to the mind too! It helps in relaxing the body as well as the mind.
There are some yoga poses help in strengthing the lower back example of bridge pose, chair pose, plank pose, downward facing dog pose, triangle pose, locust pose and more! I can tell that you are new to yoga. I would advice you to join a proper yoga class to learn about all these poses. If to schedule a fix time for class is a problem to you, you may also consider joining a online yoga program which have special class for lower back too.
If you are interested, you may like to check out my another blog post on “Best Online Yoga Class” which I have recommended some online yoga providers. They provide free trial for 14 days! So it is no harm check it out on the online yoga classes during the free trial period to see whether can find something that you are looking for. Hope all these help you.
Love! Love! Love! I have been practicing yoga for 20 years. I found your post to be very detailed and educational. It was well worth the read. My sequence is 10 steps, but after reading this post I am going to try your 12 step approach. I am a Crohns sufferer and have found this daily practice to be an amazing tool to help my body stay in sync. I am able to manage my disease with no medication and I attribute that to my daily yogic discipline. Please keep sharing this great information!
Hi Stacy! Glad that you enjoy reading my post. And also happy to learn that yoga practice has help you with your disease with no medication.
In fact, if you like, you can also mix 12 step and 10 step sun salutation together. Example, you can start off with 12 step first for a few rounds until you feel your energy picking up you can start go into 10 step sun salutation for some rounds.
When you start to feel tire, you can go back to 12 step again for a few rounds to tone down before you come to a rest. Sometimes I do it this way too. Just go with your feel on that day!..:-)
I love the sun salutations, they are a great way to start a session and I always feel ready for whatever follows. I often forget about my breathing when attempting new or challenging poses. So the sun salutations are a great way of getting the best breathing rhythm in a familiar sequence which hopefully leads to good breathing throughout. I totally agree there is no need to hurry.
Hi Ian. Thank you for your sharing! Yes, I love Sun Salutation too…:-) I enjoy the feel when I work with my breath together with the flow of the Sun Salutation. Thank you for sharing your experience with Sun Salutation..:-)