Surya Namaskar (Salutations to the Sun) is devoted to the worship of the Solar deity, the provider of energy and intellect. It has been practiced in India for thousands of years. The 12 “asanas” combined with proper deep and rhythmic breathing can provide significant physical and mental benefits. When practiced in the morning, Surya Namaskar relieves stiffness, energizes the body and refreshes the mind.
The Surya Namaskar Postures and Breathing Patterns:
The 12 postures are:
1. Stand facing the Sun with palms folded and both the thumbs touching the chest.
Breathing: Inhale while raising the hands and exhale as hands are brought down to chest level.
2. Raise hands upward, with feet firmly on the ground, bend backwards, stretch arms fully.Breathing: Inhale.
3. Slowly bend forward, hands touching the earth with respect, head touching the knees. Breathing:Exhale.
4. Set both hands with the palms down firmly on the ground, pull the left leg backward, raise the head looking at the Sun, full weight resting on the two palm and ten fingers. Breathing: Inhale
5. Bring right leg back close to left leg, keeping hands and legs straight, bend the body at the hip forming an arch, just like a mountain, known as ‘parvathasan or mountain pose’. Breathing: Exhale
6. Stretch yourself fully on the ground in the Saashtanga Namaskar pose (all eight ‘anga’ or parts of the body on the ground – head, thigh, eyes (sight), mind, word, feet, hands and ears (hearing)). In reality, feet, knees, thighs, chest, forehead touch the ground with the hands stretched out and in folded position, with your mind and thoughts on the full namaskar, then slowly turn the head to the sides first to left and then to right so that each ear touches the ground. Breathing: Inhale first and then Exhale fully
7. Slowly raise the head, bend backward as much as possible, hands straight, in the cobra pose. Breathing: Inhale
8. Parvathasan – same as Step 5. Breathing: Exhale
9. Same as Step 4 with the difference that the right leg is brought forward. Breathing: Inhale
10. Same as Step 3 – Breathing: Exhale
11. Same as Step 2 – Breathing: Inhale
12. Same as Step 1 – Breathing: Exhale, Inhale and Exhale.
You don’t need to be doing yoga regularly in order to practice the Surya Namaskar. If performed correctly, this exercise does not strain or cause injury. If performed in the morning, it relieves stiffness, revitalises your body and refreshes the mind. Do it during the day and it will instantly boost you up, practice it after sundown and it helps you unwind.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
Tones up the digestive system by the alternate stretching and compression of abdominal organs. It activates digestion and gets rid of constipation and dyspepsia.
Abdominal muscles are strengthened and improves muscle flexibility
If you are suffering from sleeplessness then, surya namaskar is the best medicine as it promotes sleep and calms anxiety
Prevents skin disorders and makes skin look refreshed
Thoroughly ventilates the lungs, and oxygenates the blood.
Tones up the nervous system and improves memory.
Prevents loss of hair and greying.