The earth revolves around the sun and in cultures across the world, the sun god is worshipped with fervour. The ancient yogic pose of the Surya Namaskar (also known as the Sun Salutation) may be a way to pay your respect to the sun, but it ensures benefits that go beyond the physical body.
As this pose uses every part of the body, it keeps you agile, fit and energetic throughout the day. The ideal way to get into the body workout is to do it at least 12 times daily, which after a few days of practice a person can achieve within 15 to 20 minutes. This powerful yoga pose can also prove to be a good warm-up exercise before getting into intense poses or exercises.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
- Improves Blood Circulation: Apart from generating a lot of movement in the body, the breathing patterns in the Surya Namaskar make you inhale and exhale to exercise the lungs. It also ensures that fresh oxygenated blood is reaching all parts of the body. Exhaling helps discard toxins from the body.
- Helps regularise the period cycle: Regular movement of the body in the form of exercise anyway ensures a smoother period, but the particular muscles that are worked upon during this pose enable a regular cycle.
- Generates weight loss: This asana is great for burning calories, and when done at a rapid pace, it can be converted into a cardio exercise. Over a period of time, it will not only help in weight loss, coupled with healthy eating.
- Tones muscles: Once you get into the groove of doing the asana on a regular basis, it will help tone your abdomen and arms. It will also improve the flexibility in your body and strengthen the body from the inside.
- Improves hair and skin quality: The asana is powerful in keeping a person’s body youthful and healthy. The blood circulation will help improve a glow on your face and prolong the aging of the skin and greying of hair.
- Has meditative properties: Since the Surya Namaskar requires concentration, that helps a person be calmer and improves memory. The concentration on the movements and breath will enhance the function of the nervous system, thereby reducing stress and anxiety.
How To Get Ready For The Asana in Surya Namaskar?
Although the Surya Namaskar can be practised at any time of morning and mid-morning, the best time to practice it is early in the morning, with the rising sun. Among the things to keep in mind:
- Practice this asana on an empty stomach.
- Ensure you finish your bowel movement before.
- If you can practice it outdoors, that’s best, otherwise, at least do it in a ventilated room.
- Start small and slow. In the beginning, focus on getting all the movements correctly, and do only four repetitions, two on each leg.
- Once you master the movements of the Surya Namaskar and their order, gradually increase the number of repetitions until you reach 12.
How To Do The Surya Namaskar?
Different schools of thought exist on how to do this exercise, but the most popular sequence consists of the following steps. There is no hard and fast rule or fixed time that you must stay in each asana, but you can devote at least 30 seconds to each.
The Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose) in Surya Namaskar
You need to stand on the edge of the mat, and keep your feet together. Your weight has to be balanced, equally and you need to stand straight. Be relaxed, and expand your chest, while inhaling. Lift your arms up when inhaling. When exhaling, bring your palms together as if in a namaste or a prayer position.
Tip: Focus on breathing so you can get into a calmer mode.
Hasta Uttanasana (the Raised Arms Pose) in Surya Namaskar
Once you are in your namaste position, lift your arms up in the same position over your head, while inhaling. Ensure your arms are stretched and close to your ears. Then lean a little backward, so your entire body can feel a stretch, from the tips of your fingers to your toes.
Tip: Try and clear your mind while practising this asana
Pada Hastasana (Hand To Foot Pose)
After stretching your body, for the next step of the Surya Namaskar, bend forward from the waist down while exhaling. Your spine needs to be erect. Then, bend as much as you can, bringing your hands down near your feet.
Tip: Listen to your body and don’t strain your spine.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose) in Surya Namaskar
Push your left leg back while inhaling, and push it as far as back as you can. After that, bend your right knee and ensure your arms are placed next to your feet. Look forward as if gazing ahead.
Tip: Keep your palms flat on the floor.
Parvatasana (Mountain Pose) in Surya Namaskar
Lift up your hips while exhaling and face your chest downwards as if you are behind is a top of a mountain. Your chest and legs should be positioned in a way that your body forms an inverted V.
Tip: Keep your legs straight.
Ashtanga Namaskara (The Salute With Eight Body Parts)
Now, while exhaling, you need to bring your knees down. Be gentle. You will have to push back your hips and slide forward in a way that your chin and chest rest on the floor. After that, raise your bottom slightly. Here, the eight body parts that touch the floor and offer the namaskar are your hands, feet, knees, chest and chin.
Tip: Try and make a count for each pose so you can get into a routine.
Bhujangasana (The Cobra Pose) in Surya Namaskar
From the previous position, slide your body forward, and raise your chest up with your eyes on the ceiling. Your elbows need to be bent, and your shoulders should be away from your ears. Ensure you look upwards.
Tip: Do this asana independently to improve digestion.
Parvatasana (The Mountain Pose) in Surya Namaskar
To come back to this pose, lift your hips and buttocks while exhaling. Ensure you form a proper inverted V.
Tip: Keep your back straight.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose) in Surya Namaskar
Since we are going reverse now, after the mountain pose, inhale and push your right leg back, as far as you possibly can. Place your arms next to your feet while bending your left knee. Look forward.
Pada Hastasana (Hand To Foot Pose)
After the previous pose, while exhaling, bend forward from the waist. Then, inhale as you bring your hands down next to your feet. Once you are in this position, exhale.
Tip: Your spine needs to be erect.
Hasta Uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)
In the next step, lift your arms up and back, ensuring your arms are stretched and close to your years. This pose requires you to stretch your entire body, from the tips of your finger to your toes.
Tip: Keep your eyes open, otherwise you might lose balance.
Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)
You are back. Keep your feet close together, and balance your body weight on them. Expand your chest while relaxing your shoulders and lift your arms up. Bring your arms close to your chest in a namaste position while exhaling.
Tip: You have finished one around on one leg. You will have to repeat the steps on the other leg.
Surya Namaskar – Benefits In Weight Loss
Surya namaskar works on your arms, legs and abdomen at the same time, helping you in losing weight faster. While you can do it slowly in the beginning, increasing the pace and number of Surya namaskar per minute can change your life drastically for the better.
Pro Tip: Surya Namaskar is a full-body exercise that has an overall effect on the body.
Surya Namaskar – Physical And Mental Health
Surya namaskar improves your physical health in various ways. It improves your digestive system, improves your hair health, and skin health. It helps weight loss and strengthens your muscles too. But did you know that Surya Namaskar is instrumental in improving mental health too? Firstly, it releases endorphins and dopamine because your body is engaging in activity and getting rewards out of it. It also improves your sleep cycle, battles insomnia and helps with anxiety. It improves your memory and nervous system too.
Pro Tip: All of these benefits together aid in an all-around, healthy and happy body.
For Glowing Skin
Since Surya namaskar improves one’s blood circulation, better distribution of oxygen throughout your body, and flushing out of toxins, it results in glowing skin. Surya Namaskar improves the elasticity of your skin which keeps your skin wrinkle-free.
Pro Tip: As we know Surya namaskar improves physical and mental health. A person with good physical and mental health already glows from within and that shows up on the skin too.
Doing Surya namaskar reduces stress hormones and improves the endocrine glands. This helps to release stress and improves Anxiety. Also since Surya namaskar makes your bodily functions better and your sleep schedule better, your anxiety levels automatically go down.
Pro Tip: Make Surya namaskar part of your workout regime to reap maximum benefits.
Better Digestive System
The positions and asanas that Surya namaskar have to stretch the stomach and digestive system which helps you to relieve gas, clean your stomach better and pass stool easily as well.
Pro Tip: Surya namaskars also increase the blood flow in the intestines which helps the process of digestion get better.
Q. In what ways is the Surya Namaskar good for a person?
A. When you do the Surya Namaskar regularly, it will have an overall impact on your body, including the organs like the intestines, liver, heart, chest, lungs, stomach, and throat. It also improves blood circulation and promotes proper functioning of the bowels, keeping your digestive track clean. Regular practice will help balance the three Ayurvedic components—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Q. Who cannot do the Surya Namaskar?
A. While everyone cab practices the Surya Namaskar, there are certain conditions under which people can’t opt for this asana. These include pregnant women, those suffering from a hernia, high blood pressure, and back problems. It is advised that you avoid the Surya Namaskar when you have your period.
Q. How Many Surya Namaskar Per Day Is Good?
A. You can start with 7-10 cycles a day as a beginner and then increase to 20-30 or more as you get accustomed to it. Remember to take it slow and easy.
Q. What Will Happen If I Do Surya Namaskar every day?
A. Suryanamskar is known as the ultimate asana as it engages the whole body. Doing Surya Namaskar every day would make you mentally and physically healthy and strong. It would tone down your weight, bring down your sugar levels, lower your anxiety, and improve digestion, aids skin and hair health. Basically, if you’re determined and do it every day, you’re going to change your life 180 degrees for the better.