Known as a salute to the sun or sun salutation, Surya Namaskar is a version of yoga which incorporates a sequence of 12 asanas, or poses.
Though traditional Hatha yoga is an ancient practice, the sun salutation wasn’t recorded until the early part of the 201st century.
This total body workout focuses on being in a constant state of motion with the rule of one breath per posture rule. This lies in stark contrast to traditional asana or stagnant pose-style yoga, so it lends a more dynamic workout to the user. Expect to break a sweat even in the warm-up phase of this exercise as your heart-rate quickens.
Sun salutations focus on lengthening the spine, stabilizing the core, stretching the back, thighs, and glutes, and builds both upper and lower body strength.
History of Surya Namaskar
The asana sequence was first recorded as yoga in the early 20th century, though similar exercises were in use in India before that, for example among wrestlers. The mid-1930s is when we see Surya Namaskar making its way into mainstream yoga practices.
The sun salute was part of a yoga-based practice from Bhavana Rao Pant Pratinidhi, who wrote the book Surya Namaskars for Health, Efficiency, and Longevity. His brand of yoga was always in motion and synchronized with breathing in lieu of the static positions of asana-style yoga.
Later, as the 20th century progressed, Surya Namaskar began to meld together with other forms of asana yoga teachings as the yoga movement took hold.
How to Perform Surya Namaskar Yoga:
There are 12 poses in the Surya Namaskar yoga sequence:
Pose 1: Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
Pose 2: Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
Pose 3: Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
Pose 4: Ashna Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
Pose 5: Dandasana (Stick Pose)
Pose 6: Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with 8 Points)
Pose 7: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Pose 8: Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
Pose 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
Pose 10: Hasta Hanasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
Pose 11: Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
Pose 12: Tadasana (Standing Mountain Pose)
There are many benefits to performing Surya Namaskar yoga, including:
- Full body fitness
- Boosts Cognitive function
- Assists in Weight Management
- Balances your three doshas
- Prevents physical injury
- Enhances Mood
- Boosts Confidence
- Reduces Stress
- Lowers blood pressure
- Protects your joints
- Stabilizes your spine, core, and hips
There are a number of alterations that can be made to the sun salutation to make it more accessible to everyone, such as:
- Half-Sun Salutation
- Seated Sun Salutation
- Chair Sun Salutation
- Sun Salutation with Stabilizer
Pay Homage to the Sun While You Workout
Rich in mythical metaphor and symbolism, it is said to be ideal to perform sun salutations during sunrise, so as to feel the sun’s rays and absorb its energy, internalizing it so it syncs with your body.
Ancient Indian saints and sages tell us there are Devas, or divine impulses ruling different parts of our bodies.
In terms of chakras, the solar plexus is the central point or center of gravity in the human body. The consistent execution of the sun salutation can boost solar plexus, resulting in increased confidence, cognitive ability, vitality, and instinct.
Give Surya Namaskar a chance. It may change your mind, body, and spirit!