The sun is the source of life on earth. It is a very ancient practice to worship the sun. Showing gratitude to the sun is a part of our culture. The ancient Rishis performed this regularly. But not only that, saluting the sun through a series of twelve postures of yoga is something that can solve a lot of physical and psychological problems of a person. This twelve poses of yoga, performed in a sequence, is called the Surya Namaskar.
The earlier practice was simpler and there were not as many as twelve postures. In the modern practice, there are twelve asanas connected with each other in sequence. Even there are chants, linked with each posture which represent zodiac signs and help the body produce enough energy.
In today’s fast and irregular life, the Surya Namaskar is considered to be a very effective physical exercise, taking only around 15 minutes.
Surya Namaskar Steps
- Pranamasana/ Prayer Pose
It is the first pose of the series. Standing upright on the mat, placing feet close to each other, taking deep breath, expanding the chest and relaxing the shoulders are parts of it. Raising the arms and joining palms with breathing in and out, as if praying is the process.
- Hasta Uttanasana/ Raised Arm Pose
Joining the palms, breathing deep, lifting arms and bending backward a little is the second posture.
- Hasta Padasana/Standing Forward Bend Pose
Bending forward from the waist portion while breathing out, then touching the floor with hands and exhaling slowly keeping the spine straight is called Hasta Padasana.
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana/ Lunge Pose
Knees slightly bent, palms resting on floor beside feet, breathing deep, taking the right knee close to the right chest and stretching the left leg in the back side and looking forward raising the head a little is the perfect Lunge Pose.
- Chaturanga Dandasana / Plank Pose
Right leg will be brought back from the previous pose, hands will be under shoulders and the body will be parallel to the ground. This is the next posture called Chaturanga Dandasana.
- Ashtanga Namaskar/ Eight Limb Pose
After breathing in and out, one has to bring the knees to the floor in order to do the next one, saluting the sun using eight parts. Chin should be kept on the floor and hips will be on the air. When one can bring his chin, chest, hands and knees on the floor while hips remain in the air, it will be called perfect Ashtanga Namaskar.
- Bhujangasana/ Cobra Pose
Keeping the legs and the mid portion of the body on the floor flatly, then keeping palms on the chest and raising the upper body putting pressure on hands while inhaling is Bhujangasana.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana/ Downward Facing Dog Pose
Palms and feet will be in their normal positions in this posture. Just hips will be lifted gently, the strength will be on elbows and knees. The body will look like an inverted ‘V’.
- Ashwa Sanchalnasana/ High Lunge Pose
When Adho Mukha Svanasana completes, one has to go back to Ashwa Sanchalnasana again, by taking the right leg forward. He will have to put the left leg behind his body, by stretching it and has to look in front.
- Hasta Padasana/ Standing Forward Bend Pose
Left foot forward, next to the right foot, hands in normal position and torso slightly bent is the perfect position from where one has to enter Hasta Padasana, while breathing out.
- Hasta Uttanasana/ Raised Arm Pose
Lifting the upper portion of the body while breathing in and raising the arms above the head is the next posture. Now the body should be bent on the back side just as the second step.
- Pranamasana/ Prayer Pose
Standing relaxed and straight, breathing out, palms in front of chest is the last posture.
In modern days people try hard for losing weight and maintaining toned and flexible body. We see queue in gyms and increasing demand of food suppliments. History can give us the solution without any hazard. From the Vedik age saints practiced Surya Namaskar. Its twelve sets are same as doing 288 high energetic postures of yoga. Now it is helpful to fight COVID-19 as well.
- Weight loss
To reduce body weight one can practice it. It boosts metabolism, stretches abdominal muscles, gives strength to skeletal muscles. Moreiver it prevents unwanted body fat and reduce weight of belly and waist. The body also becomes more flexible and toned by sun salutation.
- Immune system
In this time we are fighting COVID-19. We have to increase our immunity power to compete with this virus. Many medicines and health drinks are available in market to boost our immunity system. But daily practice of sun salutation is the best solution for it. During this yoga the breathing techniques strengthen immunity power. The postures with chest and throat can help stimulating the thymus. Inversion postures improve the flow of lymph and immune cells. Twisting and hip openers help to activate the secondary organs of the immune system.
- Blood pressure and Heart problems
Today blood pressure and heart problems are very common for any age. Sun Salutation can be a remedy. Blood pressure and heart muscles functions become normal due to practice of this whole body workout. It also reduces blood sugar levels and burns a lot of calories.
- Improve blood circulation
During the complete Surya Namaskar process the lungs are constantly ventilized and blood remains oxygenated due to breath in and breath out. Thus excess carbon dioxide and other toxic gases give out and the whole body is detoxicated.
- Bone heath
With growing age the bone density becomes very poor. Many of us lack vitamin D. Surya Namaskar prevents this. It is an outdoor practice when the sun is up. Naturally it increases the level of vitamin D in our body as sun is the main source of it. This yoga itself helps the body to absorb and process the vitamin more efficiently.
The functions of nervous system also get improved by its practice. Sun salutation reduces anxiety, increases mental focus. It relaxes our mind and cures insomnia to.
- No doubt, sunrise is best time to perform this practice, with empty stomach and free mind. Also, ultra violet ray has lesser impact on earth then. But it can be practiced in evening too, making sure the last meal was taken ,minimum 4 hours ago.
- Facing the sun, or the nature would be the best place for it. If not possible, at least a room with air and light is necessary.
- Body capacity and flexibility varies from man to man. So a beginner should not overstretch the body. While regular practitioners can easily do 12 rounds of it, beginners can start with two to four rounds.
- Speed is an important factor in this practice. Low speed helps strengthen body muscles and tone them. Using breath with slow movement can sooth the mind to feel like meditation. Fast movement helps keeping cardiovascular system better. The speed should increase gradually with rounds.
- Sun salutation, though considered the best workout, is not for all and neither for all the time. Certain things are necessary to remember before performing it. People do mistakes in this like improper breathing technique, skipping a step, skipping warm up, leaving the cycle incomplete. Some people try to do all the postures from day one. Some others don’t understand difference of the poses and end up confused and mixing up. It is not just that this will make no good to their health, even it can cause them serious problems like injuries, strains and pains.
- People suffering from cardiac disorder, back problems, arthritis, high blood pressure, hernia, wrist injury and pregnant women must consult the doctor before doing this and take proper cautions if they do it.