Surya namaskar or sun salutation is a yoga pose that helps keep the entire body fit and make muscles flexible.
According to experts, surya namaskar asana activates the Manipura Chakra, or solar plexus, which is located behind the navel. It is said that performing this yoga with precision increases the intuitive abilities of a person.
Surya namaskar is the first asana that is performed by yoga practitioners.
Benefits of Surya namaskar
Scientists say surya namaskar has positive physiological benefits through the improvement of pulmonary function, respiratory pressures, handgrip strength and endurance.
1. Weight loss
A study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, which evaluated 49 male and 30 female volunteers, found that sun salutation is an ideal exercise to keep a person in the optimum level of fitness.
2. Blood circulation
While performing this asana, one has to constantly breathe in and breathe out which keeps the lungs ventilated and the blood remains oxygenated. Surya namaskar detoxifies the body and discharges excess carbon dioxide.
3. Reduces tension
Performing Surya namaskar daily helps in improving memory and de-stresses the mind and body. The asana smoothens the functioning of the endocrine and thyroid glands thereby diminishing anxiety.
4. Hair and skin
Yoga asanas improve blood circulation and therefore, performing them in a routine manner may make one look younger. Practicing surya namaskar gives glowing and radiant skin and prevents the early onset of wrinkles.
5. Menstrual cycle
Women with irregular periods can practice surya namaskar to regulate their menstrual cycles. A study published by the International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering found that surya namaskar along with walking reduces the weight gained by sedentary life and gives relief from menstrual problems.
Postures and methods of surya namaskar
1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
Stand upright on your yoga mat and position your feet close to each other. Take a deep breath, expand your chest and keep your shoulder relaxed. As you inhale, lift your arms from the side and while exhaling bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.
2. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised arms pose)
Just like prayer pose, keep your palms joined. Take a deep breath and lift your arms. Now, slightly bend backward, keeping your biceps close to your ears.
3. Hasta Padasana (standing forward bend pose)
Bend forward from the waist while breathing out and keeping the spine erect. Try to touch the floor. As you perform the pose, exhale slowly and thoroughly.
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (lunge pose)
Slightly bend your knees so that your palms can easily rest on the floor beside your feet. Take a deep breath and gradually bring your right knee to the right side of your chest and stretch your left leg backwards. Lift your head and keep looking forward.
5. Chaturanga Dandasana (plank pose)
Breathe in and bring your right leg back. Now, both your hands will be right under your shoulders. Make sure that your body is parallel to the ground.
6. Ashtanga Namaskara (eight-limbed pose)
After Chaturanga Dandasana, breathe out and gradually bring your knees down towards the floor. Place your chin on the floor and keep hips suspended in the air. Your hands, knee, chin and chest will rest on the ground while your hips will remain suspended in the air if your posture is right.
7. Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Place your leg and midsection flat on the ground. Position your palms next to your chest. Take a deep breath and apply pressure on the hands, raising your upper body. Your head and torso will resemble a cobra with a raised hood in this posture.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing pose)
Keeping the palms and feet where they are, exhale and gently raise your hip forming a V shape with the body. Straighten your elbows and knees and look towards the navel.
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (high lunge pose)
Go back to the Ashwa Sanchalanasana pose by bringing the right foot forward while keeping the left leg stretched behind and looking forward.
10. Hasta Padasana (standing forward bend)
Inhale and bring the left food forward so that it is next to the right foot. Keeping the position of hands intact, exhale and slowly bend torso and enter the Hasta Padasana pose.
11. Hasta Uttanasana (raised arms pose)
Inhale and lift their upper body. Join the palms and raise your arms above the head. Bend backward like in step 2.
12. Pranamasana (prayer pose)
Breathe out and stand straight in a relaxed manner. Lower arms and hold the palms in front of your chest. This marks the end to the first set of Surya namaskar.
What’s the apt time to perform it?
It is recommended that Surya namaskar be performed during the morning in an empty stomach. It can also be performed in the evening but you have to ensure that you have not eaten anything at least 2 hours before the asana.