Surya Namaskar in Yoga
Suryanamaskar is one of the basic exercises in the practice of Yoga. When translated it means ‘salutation to sun’. According to Hindu religious belief, it is the worship of Surya, the Sun God. It is termed as a complete sadhana (practice) that combines asana (pose), pranayama (breathing), mantra (recitation) and chakra (energy centre) meditation. Religious scriptures believe that the best time to perform Suryanamaskar is early morning, at sunrise, as practiced traditionally.
The 12 asanas or poses that constitute one Suryanamaskar cycle are described as under:
- Pranamasana: Begin the Suryanamaskar with this first asana which involves facing the sun and standing straight with folded palms such that the thumbs touch the chest. Inhale and exhale once.
- Hasta Uttanasana: In the next step inhale and slowly raise both your hands upward and stretch your arms fully as you bend backwards. Inhale.
- Hastapaadasana: In this third step continuing from the previous pose, bend forward slowly until your hands touch the ground and the head touches your knees. Exhale as you perform this pose.
- Aekpaadprasarnaasana: This is the fourth step where both hands are placed on the ground resting on the palms. As you inhale pull your left leg back and raise your head back.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana: The fifth step involves pulling the right leg backwards close to the left one, without moving your hands. Slowly, arch your body like a mountain as you exhale.
- Ashtanga Namaskara: In the sixth step inhale and stretch yourself on the ground with all the parts of the body touching the ground and hands stretched and folded at the elbow. Exhale towards the end of the step.
- Bhujangasana: In this seventh step, raise your head slowly and bend backwards. Inhale as you bend.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana: The eighth step is a repeat of step 5 and also called as the Parvathasana. Exhale as you finish this pose.
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana: This is the ninth step that resembles step 4; with the exception that right leg comes forward. Inhale as you finish this pose.
- Uttanasana: The tenth step is a repeat of step 3.
- Hasta Uttanasana: This is the eleventh step and the same as step 2. Inhale. as you finish this pose.
- Pranamasana: This is the final step of Suryanamaskar that brings us back to step 1. Exhale, then inhale and finish off by exhaling again.