Surya Namaskar



Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation is a most complete series of postures. It is a very good exercise which takes only a few minutes to do and serves as a warm up routine before the practice of yoga asanas. It is one of the best home exercises requiring little space, only eight by three feet. Be sure to have enough space to lie down, and enough clearance to stretch the arms above the head while standing.
Surya namaskar consists of a sequence of twelve postures performed continuously and combined with synchronized breathing. Each position counteracts the preceding one producing a balance between flexions and extensions. The postures are as follows:

  1. Namaskar – salute. Stand erect with feet together and join the palms in the center of the chest in the style of Indian salute and inhale. Then exhale and push the hands down straightening and lowering the arms until the elbows touch the sides. This standing pose is also known as tadaasana.
  2. Chandraasan – crescent moon pose. Inhale and raise the arms above the head and extend the spine backwards arching the back from the waist and moving the hips forward. Let the eyes follow the hands while relaxing your neck.
  3. Hastapadaasan – bending pose. Begin to exhale bending forward from the waist and place the hands on the floor besides each foot. Relax with your head and neck in a bending pose.

4. Surya darshan – sun gaze. Inhale and putting your weight on the hands stretch the right leg behind like a stick resting on the toes. Bend the knee and place it on the floor with your weight on the left foot and arch the spine backward. Lift the head and neck first up and then back. Roll the eyes up. The left foot remains between the hands.


5. Himalayan – mountain pose. Exhale and bring the left foot back in line with the right. Lift the hips up high like a mountain. Push the heels and head down and look at the toes with the head down between the arms.


6. Sashtang dandawat – lie down. Put the knees down first and then bring the chest down. See that eight parts of the body are touching the floor including two feet, two knees, two hands, the chest and the chin or forehead. Sashtang means eight limbs and dandawat means paying homage by touching the floor. Make sure the hips are slightly raised above the ground. Inhale and exhale in this position. Keep the feet together.


7. Bhujangaasan – cobra pose. Lower the pelvis and abdomen to the floor. Inhale and stretch the toes on the floor. Raise your head slowly up, arch the spine and neck and look up. Keep your legs together and the elbows alongside the body slightly bent and keep the shoulders down.


8. Himalaya aasan. Exhale and wiggle your toes forward allowing your feet to rest on the soles while your raise the hips as your did in number 5.


9. Surya darshan. Inhale and bring the right foot forward and assume pose number 4 exactly as before.

  10. Hastapadaasan. Exhale and bring the right foot forward and assume pose number 3.
  11. Chandraasan. Inhale and stretch up in a standing pose with your arms up and bend backwards like in pose number
  12. Namaskar. Exhale and stand erect bringing the hands back to the center of the chest with palms together as in pose number 1.



These 12 exercises are 1 round of surya namaskar. In the second round stretch the left leg behind in surya darshan. Surya namaskar is done for an even number of rounds like 2-4-6-8-10 or 12 rounds each day. When you complete each round you should be standing in the same spot as you stood before. When the hands are placed with the palms down on the floor in the third pose they should remain there until the tenth pose.

A healthy person requires a minimum practice of 12 or 16 rounds of surya namaskar each day. Beginners should start by practicing 2 rounds the first week, 4 rounds the second week and gradually increase in even number. Surya namaskar may be practiced slowly or rapidly if desired, to increase agility and stamina.

Surya namaskar’s sequence of postures is most scientific as it completes the circuit within the body. The cycle of blood flowing in and out from the heart into the right and left sides of the body is completed.

Many people in the West look for the best exercise routine to help them stay in shape. Here is something that has been around for thousands of years and has withstood the test of time. It strengthens the body, circulation, the breathing, and keeps the body limber and in shape. And you can have this completely free of charge, without a fitness coach, by simply using the following instructions.

“Surya Namaskar” is Sanskrit which means obeisance or prostrations (Namaskar) to the sun (Surya). It implies that one rise before sun rise in order to do this exercise or pay obeisance to the rising sun. This is around 5 to 5:30 AM. Of course, this exercise is good no matter what time you may use it, but it is best done while the stomach is empty, before eating. It is a yogic exercise which consists of ten particular postures, one following another, in a fixed, cyclic order to ensure improvement and good health in one’s digestion, agility, rejuvenation, beauty and longevity. It will also help one lose weight and trim the waist. There is no equipment to buy, or membership to a gym or fitness club that must be purchased. You just need a little space in your apartment or home. If, however, you begin to feel short-breathed or dizzy, then take a break. Also, pregnant women should not practice it, but can continue it during their period because it can help digestion and the flow of energy and outflow of waste needed at this time.

POSTURE 1: First you stand erect, ready to face the early morning sun. Stand straight with chest out and spine erect, looking forward with hands folded in respect in front of the chest where heart is located. It is like a stance of prayer. Once you start doing the routine, you spend about one second in this pose, and the others that follow. Of course, if one is weak or aged, or if you are new to the routine, you may take this a little slower.

The idea is that you do about 100 Surya Namaskars every morning, and the time to do them should not be a consideration. With practice, these poses will flow more smoothly and quickly. If each pose lasts about a second, then the full Surya Namaskar can be done in about 10 seconds or so.

POSTURE 2: Now raise your arms up in the air while keeping the hands together, and arch your self backwards as far as you can go, forming a crescent-like curve from your feet to the hands. This posture helps retain the flexibility of the spine.

POSTURE 3: Now bring your arms and hands down to your feet so that you quickly bend forward at the waist, while keeping the legs as straight as possible. The best position is to bring the hands flat to the floor on either side of your feet, while keeping the head as close to the knees as you can. If you are not that flexible, then just do the best you can. The most important aspect of this pose is that it squeezes the stomach and assists in digestion to extract any vitamins and nutrients in one’s food, which helps turn it into blood. It also loosens any fat that has accumulated there. Postures 2 and 3 are actually the easiest to do, so if you cannot do the others, at least do these.

POSTURE 4: From position three, you lower your hips and stretch your left leg back as far as you can, letting the foot rest on the toes and the knee touch the ground, while you bend your right leg in a crouching stance, letting the right knee come up to your chest. Keeping your hands flat on the ground, your arms straight, arch your head upward and back so you are looking at the ceiling or sky. This forms a crescent shape from the left heel up to the top of your head. This position helps ensure flexibility of the spine and immunity from diseases in the left leg muscles and ligaments.

POSTURE 5: Now keep your hands flat on the ground and carry the right leg back to parallel the left leg, sided by side, both feet pressing firmly flat against the floor, while bringing your hips up into the air as high as they will go. Keep your arms and back in a straight line as your head faces the ground, and bring the chin to the chest, making you look at your knees. This makes your body form an upside down “V” or a triangle between you and the floor.

POSTURE 6: Now, while keeping the hands and feet in the same places, bring your hips down while moving the head and shoulders forward, straightening the whole body near the floor. Keep the face downward with the forehead, the chest and knees lightly touching the ground, and the hips slightly raised. With the forehead, chest, and two palms, knees, and feet touching the floor, it is called Sashtang Namaskar, or prostrations with eight points touching the floor.

POSTURE 7: The next posture flows from position 6, which is done merely by straightening your arms and lifting your chest upward and arching your head back so that you are looking at the ceiling. Your feet and knees rest on the floor while your arms hold the rest of your body a little above it. Again you form a body-length crescent, from your feet up to your head. This yogic position is known as “the cobra”.

POSTURE 8: Now let your body flow into position 5 again by lowering your head and chest, keep your arms and legs straight, and raise your hips as high as they will go. As your head faces the ground, keep your arms and back in a straight line and bring the chin to the chest, making you look at your knees, which forms an upside down “V” again.

POSTURE 9: Now we flow into the same position as number four, but stretch the other leg. So we first bend the left leg and bring the left foot forward on the floor. Keeping your hands flat on the ground, bring your hips down while moving the chest and head forward, allowing the left knee to reach up to the chest, and then arch your head up and back. The right foot stays in its place, letting the foot rest on the toes, which makes the right leg get stretched backward when your chest moves forward. This gives the body a crescent shape from the right heel up to the top of your head. This position helps ensure flexibility of the spine and immunity from diseases in the right leg muscles and ligaments.

POSTURE 10: Now we go back into posture three. Keep your hands in place as you bring your right leg forward to be parallel with the left leg. With both feet flat on the floor (if you can keep them that way), and the legs kept straight, the body is bent at the waist with the forehead touching the knees (if you can bend this much). If you are not this flexible and cannot bend like this, then simply do it as best you can and keep the head as close to the knees as possible.

From this position you straighten your body to stand erect as in posture number one, and join the palms in front of your chest as in prayer. Hold this for a second and then begin to go back into posture number 2 to start the whole cycle of postures again for the next Surya Namaskar.

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