Derived from the Sanskrit words Surya (which means sun) and Namaskar (which means to bow down), Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar involves a sequence of 12 yoga poses that bring powerful benefits to the body.
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
The sun salutation sequence is practiced in honor of the sun and to show gratitude for the life that the sun brings to the earth. Each sequence promotes various stretching exercises and breathing techniques.
Sun Salutation Directions:
Sun salutation sequences usually involve beginner-level poses and postures and can be practiced by most individuals.
Step 1 – Pranamasana (Salutation Pose):
Stand up tall with your feet together, balancing the entire weight of your body on your feet. Join your hands in ‘Namaskar’ at your chest level and close your eyes. Your back should be straight. Breathe normally and relax the body.
Step 2 – Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arm Backbend Pose):
As you inhale, raise both your hands above your head with your palms joined together at Namaste. Bend the head, chest, and shoulders slightly backward and feel the stretch in the muscles, including the chest, abs, and back.
Step 3 – Uttanasana (Hand to Foot Posture):
As you exhale, bend forward from your waist and reach down to hold your ankles. Try to further the stretch and touch your head to your knees.
Step 4 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose):
Inhale to bend your right knee and take your left leg back as far behind as possible, keeping your toes on the floor.
Bring your palms to touch the floor where both your palms and your right foot are aligned. As you inhale, open and stretch your back and lift your head up.
Step 5 – Phalakasana (Plank Pose):
Inhale to lift the body and move your right foot back by the side of your left foot. Exhale to lift your chest, shoulders, and spin. Slowly raise your hip up and bring your head between your arms.
Keep your knees and elbows straight and ensure that your heels are planted firmly on the floor.
Step 6 – Ashtanga Namaskara (Salutation with Eight Limbs):
Inhale to lower your knees, chest, and chin to touch the floor, however, try to keep your belly completely off the floor. Your lower back should be lifted and your body will be balanced on the toes. Make sure your elbows are bent.
Step 7 – Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose):
As you exhale, lower your hips with your abdomen touching the floor and inhale to lift your chest off the floor to perform the backbend. Pressing your palms firmly on the mat, keep your chest lifted and look up towards the ceiling.
Step 8 – Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose):
Exhale to bring your palms and feet on the floor. Bring your chest and head inwards and raise your spine upwards. You should feel a stretch in the lower back as you deepen the stretch in the lower back and bring your head deeper into the pose.
Step 9 – Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose):
As you inhale, bring your right foot towards the palms and bend your right knee. Take your left leg back and place the left knee on the floor, bringing your hips down, towards the mat.
Exhale to bend your right knee forward and push your hips lower. Keep your chest and shoulders up and lifted.
Step 10 – Uttanasana (Hand to Foot Posture):
Inhale to stretch the right leg and bring the left foot towards the right foot while keeping the head close to the knees. Exhale and focus on your breathing as your spine expands.
Step 11 – Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arm Backbend Pose):
While inhaling, raise both your hands above your head and bend slightly backward, deeper than the stretch in step 2.
Step 12 – Pranamasana (Salutation Pose):
Exhale to release your stretch and get into mountain pose position. Join your hands in ‘Namaskar’ at your chest level and close your eyes. Focus to calm your breathing and relax the body for at least two breaths.
Repeat this sequence by trying to deepen the poses and postures to foster more strength and energy.
Benefits of Sun Salutation:
Sun salutation brings various benefits to the mind and body. Not only do we practice gratitude, but the various stretching and postures practiced in this sequence come with numerous health benefits.
Some of the benefits of practicing the sun salutation sequence include:
- Strengthens and tones all the muscles in the body
- Flushes out toxins
- Aids digestion and promotes digestive function
- Stimulates the cardiovascular system
- Promotes mental health and improves the mood
- Boosts endurance
- Improves immunity
- Lengthens the spine
Updated by Siya Rajan on 06/07/2018
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Sun Salutation Steps. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tummee.com/yoga-poses/sun-salutation/steps