How to Do Surya Namaskar? Benefits & Step-by-step Guide For Beginners

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A Woman Posing Yoga Posture on the Beach in the Morning

Yoga is incomplete without Surya Namaskar.

Surya Namaskar, also known as Sun Salutation, is a Yoga practice that involves a sequence of some 12 gracefully linked asanas. These asanas make the complete and balanced development of our body. It also improves mental health and provides mental clarity.

However, many beginners are unfamiliar with the fact that Surya Namaskar is a combination of Pranayama and Asana. It is done in 12 orderly steps with the help of 8 different asanas in a cyclic order.

Surya Namaskar offers lots of health benefits, including weight loss, keeping your skin glowing, regulating the digestive system, fighting insomnia, alleviating back pain and knee pain, and many others. However, the Surya Namaskar benefits multiplied if you perform it during sunrise or sunset.

There are several versions of the Surya Namaskar in practice. But in this article, we have focused on the basic Surya Namaskar only. We have explained Surya Namaskar steps, briefed on Surya Namaskar postures, and mentioned the top 7 benefits of Surya Namaskar. 

Let us begin with the Surya Namaskar Steps.

How to Do Surya Namaskar? 12 Steps Of Surya Namaskar

The 12 Surya Namaskar steps include the eight different asanas in the following sequence:

  1. Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)
  2. Hasta Uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)
  3. Hastapadasana (The Standing Forward Bend)
  4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose)
  5. Dandasana (The Stick Pose)
  6. Ashtanga Namaskara (The Caterpillar Pose)
  7. Bhujangasana (The Cobra Pose)
  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (The Down Face Dog Pose)
  9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose)
  10. Hastapadasana (The Standing Forward Bend)
  11. Hasta Uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)
  12. Tadasana (The Mountain Pose)

Let us understand how to do each of these asanas or Surya Namaskar postures in brief. Along with technique, we will also learn the key benefits of each asana. However, make sure that you perform Surya namaskar step by step to gain optimum health benefits.

1. Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)

Women in Yoga Prayer Pose

The first step of Surya Namaskar is Pranamasana. The word Pranamasana is made of two words– Pranam means to pay respect, and Asana means posture or a pose.

  • Begin this asana by standing on your feet, keeping it together. Balance your weight equally on both feet.
  • Stretch your chest and relax the shoulders while standing upright.
  • As you inhale, lift both arms up in the sky from the sides.
  • As you exhale, slowly bring the palms together in front of the chest, i.e., in the prayer position.

Health Benefits: This asana aims to calm down the body as well as the mind.

2. Hastottanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)

A Women in the Raised Arms Pose

Hastottanasana comes second in the Surya Namaskar steps list, where Hasto means hands, Uttana means intense stretching, and Asana means posture. 

Following Pranamasana,

  • Lift your hands up and gently arch back while syncing with the breath.
  • Keep your biceps close to the ears.
  • Make sure your biceps are touching the ears, elbow straight, feet together, and knees straight.

Health Benefits: This asana helps surge the energy flow in the upper part of your body– towards the mind.

3. Hastapadasana (The Standing Forward Bend)

Women Practicing Yoga Pose Standing Forward Bend

The 3rd asana in the Surya Namaskar is Hastapadasana. In Sanskrit, Hasta means hands, Pada means foot, and Asana means posture. 

In continuation with Hastapadasana,

  • Exhale and reach forward and down, keeping your hands straight.
  • Bend forward while keeping the spine erect.
  • Try to keep your palms down on the floor while bending the knees slightly and keeping the spine straight. If you are able to put your palms down on the floor, you can just keep the fingertips on the floor.
  • Gently draw the heads into the knees.

Health Benefits: This asana helps reduce belly fat, gives a flat stomach, and strengthens the spine.

4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose)

Woman Practice Equestrian Pose

The next asana in the Surya Namaskar steps is Ashwa Sanchalanasana, where Ashwa means horse and sanchalan means movement, and asana means posture. In this asana or equestrian pose,

  • Step your right leg back as much as you can and rest the right knee down on the floor while stretching the right toes out.
  • Press the fingertips or palms down on the floor and lookup.
  • Inhale throughout these movements.

Health Benefits: This posture tones the abdominal organs, strengthens chest muscles, increases lung capacity, and regulates bowel movement.

5. Chaturanga Dandasana (The Stick Pose)

Two Young Women practice The Stick Pose

The fifth or asana or the step in Surya Namaskar is Chaturanga Dandasana. In continuation with Ashwa Sanchalanasana,

  • Gently place the palms down, curl the right toes under, and pull the right knee.
  • Slide your left leg back and move into a plank or push-up like posture while inhaling.
  • Ensure that both of your hands are below your shoulders while your body is parallel to the surface.

Health Benefits: This posture helps strengthen your wrist and arm muscles besides strengthening muscles surrounding the spine, ultimately improving the posture.

6. Ashtanga Namaskara (The Caterpillar Pose)

Two Young Women practice the Caterpillar Pose

Ashtanga Namaskara, also known as Ashtanga Dandavat Pranam or caterpillar pose, is a posture where the body is balanced on eight contact points with the floor, namely chin, chest, hands, knees, and feet. It is the 6th Asana in the Surya Namaskar steps sequence.

  • In continuation of Chaturanga Dandasana, gently bend your knees to the ground from the plank position and exhale.
  • Bring your chest down between your hands while keeping the hips up in the air and elbows tucked into the body.
  • Rest your chin down on the ground.
  • Make sure your chin, chest, hands, and feet must be on the floor.

Health Benefits: Ashtanga Namaskara helps enhance the flexibility of the back and spine. It also strengthens your biceps and forearms.

7. Bhujangasana (The Cobra Pose)

Two Young Women practice the Cobra Pose

The 7th step– Bhujangasana or the cobra pose is one of the Surya Namaskar postures commonly performed in a cycle of asanas in Surya Namaskar as an alternative Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. To accomplish this asana,

  • From the caterpillar pose, slowly bring your hip down.
  • Inhale and gently move forward. Make sure that your elbows are tucked in.
  • Bent from the waist, lift your chest from the floor, and lookup.
  • Stretch your toes behind you and press the palms down.

Health Benefits: As this pose resembles the snake cobra, it is known as the Cobra pose. The Bhujangasana tones the buttocks, strengthens the spine and relieves back tension.

8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (The Down Face Dog Pose)

Women's Practise the Down Face Dog Pose

As the name implies, this Surya Namaskar posture replicates a dog bending forward. In the continuation with Bhujangasana,

  • Press your palms on the floor, breathe out, lift up your hip straight up into the air, and make the inverted V shape.
  • Try to form a 90-degree angle between your legs and stomach.

Health Benefits: Adho Mukha Svanasana tones your core, strengthens your bones and surges blood flow to the brain.

9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose)

A Young Woman Practice the Equestrian Pose

Now, keeping up with the cyclic order, repeat the Ashwa Sanchalanasana or the equestrian pose.

  • Move your right leg forward between your hands and gently place your left knee down on the ground.
  • Push your hip downward and lookup.

Health Benefits: This posture tones the abdominal organs, strengthens chest muscles, increases lung capacity, and regulates bowel movement.

10. Hastapadasana (The Standing Forward Bend)

Women Practicing Yoga Pose Raised Arms

In continuation with Ashwa Sanchalanasana, perform the Hastapadasana.

  • Put your palms down beside you and gently curl your left toes under.
  • Pick up the left knee, take a leap forward with your left leg, and bring it forward.
  • As you exhale, put your hands down on the floor beside the feet.
  • Keep the palms on the floor if your body allows you. Or else, just touch your fingertips to the floor while your knees are a little bent.
  • Gently draw the heads into the knees.

Health Benefits: Hastapadasana is very useful to cure constipation, hair loss, and back pain. 

11. Hasta Uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)

A Young Woman Practice Raised Arms Pose

Repeat the Hasta Uttanasana as described in step 2.

  • While inhaling, raise your arms, gently move your both hands up in the hands, and bend backward a little bit.
  • Push your hips slightly outward while ensuring that your biceps are parallel to your ears.
  • Stretch upward more than stretching up back.

Health Benefits: The Hastottanasana is beneficial in strengthening ribs muscles, reducing neck pain, and increasing colons flexibility.

12. Tadasana (The Mountain Pose)

Woman Practice Yoga Mountain Pose

Conclude the Surya Namaskar with Tadasana.

  • Brings the arms down while exhaling.
  • Feel the magic sensation in your body.

Health Benefits: The Tadasana or mountain pose helps to make your spine agile while also corrects your posture. It also boosts mental peace and keeps you calm and concentrated.

Once you finish all these Surya Namaskar steps, it means you have completed one round of Surya Namaskar. Two rounds of Surya Namaskar make a Set. For the optimum results, it is suggested that you perform at least 6 sets or 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar every day– either during sunrise or sunset.

However, as a beginner, you can start with 4 rounds or 6 rounds and gradually move upward as you get comfortable and gain expertise. Once you become a pro in Surya Namaskar, you can perform as many as you can.

But above all, make sure you perform Surya Namaskar step by step and carefully maintain the breathing rhythm. 

Now let us learn some key Surya Namaskar benefits in brief. 

Top 7 Benefits of Surya Namaskar

  1. Each of the Surya Namaskar postures or poses focuses on a particular set of muscles and nerve centers. Once you perform a Surya Namaskar set step by step, all of your muscles get exercised and become flexible.
  2. Each Surya Namaskar postures improve the function of internal organs. It regulates blood flow, enhances the digestion system, and alleviates spine stress.
  3. If you perform Surya Namaskar step by step, it will improve your mental well-being.
  4. One of the key benefits of Surya Namaskar is it also combats negative thoughts and removes mental blocks.
  5. The regular practice of Surya Namaskar develops mental clarity and calmness.
  6. The Surya Namaskar also benefits skin health as it regulates and improves blood circulation.
  7. Besides boosting metabolism and building muscle strength, Surya Namaskar also helps lower blood sugar if performed step by step.

There are the top 7 benefits of Surya Namaskar. If you adopt Surya Namaskar in your daily life, you will see a significant change in your overall well-being and behavior within a few months.

With these benefits, we are concluding this article. We hope our in-depth explanation on how to do Surya Namaskar step by step has helped you a lot in comprehending this yoga practice well.

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