Each morning we are born again, what we do today is what matters most. – Buddha
The life on this earth exists because of Sun. Without the Sun, there will be no life on this earth. The Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is the ancient technique of paying respect and being thankful for the Sun that is a source of all forms of life on this earth. It comprises of 12 intense yoga asanas in two sets. These 12 poses complete one cycle of Surya Namaskar. To complete the second cycle, you need to practise the same set of poses on the other side of arms and legs.
It is considered best if you practice it in the early morning on an empty stomach. This yoga asana is simple yet powerful to lead our life in a greater way. Those who are busy in the work life and don’t find time to do yoga, this is the right asana for them. This asana has a variety of benefits starting from relaxing the mind, helping in blood circulation, stretching the body and toning the muscles to provide a good cardiovascular workout.
These powerful yoga poses have a greater impact on heart, liver, intestine, chest, throat, legs, stomach and muscles. Practising Surya Namaskar daily helps us in balancing three constituents of our body i.e. Kapha, Pitta and Vata in a greater way.
When we practise Surya Namaskar, we can include chants to every pose. The chants help to bring the harmony of body, breath and mind. When we chant these mantras with a deep sense of gratitude, the level of spirituality blossoms within us. You can either chant the mantras in your mind or verbally. Be aware of your breathing while chanting and please chant the mantras with proper pronunciation.
Let’s start the Surya Namaskar practice with deep gratitude and chanting the mantras.
Step-1: Pranayama (Prayer Pose)
Stand at the front centre of your mat, with your feet together. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders. As you breathe in, chant Om Mitraya Namah (Who is friendly to all) and lift both of your arms up from the sides and as you exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.
Benefits: It helps to relax the nervous system and maintain the balance of your body.
Step-2: Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
While breathing in, chant Om Ravaye Namah (The shining one, the radiant one) and lift your arms up and back, keeping your biceps close to your ears.
Benefits: It stretches and tones the muscles of the abdomen. Expands the chest which results in a full intake of oxygen where lung capacity is fully utilised. The objective of doing this asana is to expand the whole body from heels to the tip of the fingers.
Step-3: Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
While breathing out, chant Om Suryaya Namah (One who is the dispeller of darkness and responsible for bringing activity) and bend forward from the waist, keeping the spine erect. As you will exhale completely, bring your hands down to the floor, beside the feet.
Step-4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
While breathing in, chant Om Bhanave Namah (One who illuminates, the bright one) and push your right leg back as far as possible. Bring the right knee to the floor and look up.
Benefits: It makes the spine and neck flexible and strengthens the leg muscles. It also helps in indigestion and constipation.
Step-5: Dandasana (Stick Pose)
While you breathe in, chant Om Khagaya Namah (One who is all pervading, one who moves through the sky) and take the left leg back, bring the whole body in straight line and keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.
Benefits: It stretches the arms, chest, shoulder and spine, improves posture and calms the mind.
Step-6: Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts Pose)
Gently bring your knees down to the floor and exhale. Chant Om Pushne Namah (Giver of nourishment and fulfilment), take the hips back slightly, slide forward, rest your chest and chin to the floor. Raise your buttock a little bit. The hands, knees, chest and chin should touch the floor.
Benefits: It increases the flexibility of the back and spine. Strengthen the back muscles and reduces stress and anxiety.
Step-7: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Slide forward, chant Om Hiranyagarbhaya Namah (one who has a golden coloured brilliance) and raise the chest up into the cobra pose. You may keep your elbows bent in this pose, the shoulders must keep away from the ears. Look up to the sky. As you inhale, make a gentle effort to push the chest forward, as you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down. Tuck the toes under. Ensure you are stretching just as much as you can, do not force your body. You will learn as you progress, please note that yoga is a journey, not a competition.
Benefits: It stretches the shoulders, chest and back, increases flexibility and elevates mood.
Step-8: Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
While breathing out, chant Om Marichaye Namah (The giver of light with an infinite number of rays) and lift the hips and the tail bone up. Keep your chest downward in an inverted ‘V’ posture. If possible, try and keep the heels on the ground and make a gentle effort to lift the tailbone up, going deeper into the stretch.
Benefits: It increases the blood flow to the spinal region and strengthens the muscles of the arms and legs.
Step-9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
While breathing in, chant Om Adityaya Namah (the son of Aditi, the cosmic divine mother) and bring your right foot forward in between the two hands, left knee down to the floor, press the hips down and look up to the sky. Place the right foot exactly between the two hands and the right calf perpendicular to the floor. In this position, make a gentle effort to push the hips down towards the floor, to deepen the stretch.
Benefits: It brings flexibility to leg muscles and tones the abdominal organs.
Step-10: Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
While breathing out, chant Om Savitre Namah (One who is responsible for life) and bring the left foot forward. Keep the palms on the floor. You may bend your knees, if necessary. Gently straighten the knees and if you can, try and touch your nose to the knees. Keep breathing. Do not force your body to achieve something.
Benefits: It Stretches the hamstrings and opens the hips, shoulders and arms.
Step-11: Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
While breathing in, chant Om Arkaya Namah (One who is worthy of praise and glory) and roll the spine up. Hands go up and bend backwards a little bit, pushing the hips slightly outward. Ensure that your biceps are beside your ears. The motive is to stretch up more rather than stretching backwards.
Benefits: It stretches and tones the muscles of the abdomen. Expands the chest which results in a full intake of oxygen where lung capacity is fully utilised. The objective of doing this asana is to expand the whole body from heels to the tips of fingers.
Step-12: Tadasana (Standing or Palm Tree Pose)
As you exhale, chant Om Bhaskaraya Namah (Giver of wisdom and cosmic illumination), first straighten the body and then bring the arms down. Relax in this position and observe the sensations in your body.
Benefits: It strengthens thighs, knees and ankles and improves posture.
Top benefits of Surya Namaskar
- Helps in weight loss: Nowadays people are suffering from weight gain due to lifestyle issues and excess stress. The Surya Namaskar practice stretches the abdominal muscles and helps to reduce excess weight and fat around your stomach. Moreover, it helps to tone your arms, abs and brings flexibility to your spine.
- Stress reducing agent: The Surya Namaskar helps to reduce stress and improve memory and nervous system. It brings calmness and helps to concentrate.
- Improves blood circulation: The Surya Namaskar practice not only involved in physical activity but also in mental activity. Since inhalation and exhalation involve in this practice, the lungs are continuously ventilated and the blood remains oxygenated. It’s an effective practice to detoxify your body in terms of removing carbon dioxide and other toxic gases.
Regular practice of 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar in the early morning hours gives enormous benefits in mentally as well as physically. Stay focused and stay safe!!!
Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are!