Surya Namaskar: the benefits of Sun Salutation
Nowadays, everyone knows yoga for the physical part of it. Basically, the poses that are part of it, also called asanas and some sequences. One of the most famous sequences is Surya Namaskar, an expression in Sanskrit that literally means “Sun Salutation”.
In all Hatha Yoga practices (which is the big family of yoga that does poses, including Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, among many others) Surya Namaskar is used, although there are a few variations. The variations can be from the North of India, or South, a variation a teacher creates, or differences in order to adapt to each person’s body conditions.
It’s a perfect routine to introduce in your life, so let’s find all about it!
The mental benefits of Surya Namaskar
A salutation to the sun, gratitude to life! A true reverence to the sun, the source of all energy and all life, Surya Namaskar must be performed with this sense of appreciation, attention to the self and the present moment, a true namaskara (reverence moment to the master). The sun is the source of life of this planet, in everything we breathe, eat and drink, there’s the energy of the sun.
If you learn how to be in deep connection with the cycle of the sun, it will improve the balance of your body and mind. It also works on your subtle body stimulating the energetic center and the circulation of your energy (prana), producing heat and promoting a mental state of peace.
It’s an excellent antidote for those who have lack of time. A set of ten Surya Namaskar, each morning, can change your life.
Physical benefits of Surya Namaskar
Physically the sequence is the most complete!
On a physical level, it develops the musculature while it promotes its stretching at the same time. Combined with the breathing, it improves spine health, enlarges the range of movement in joints, massages the internal organs and stimulates the breathing and blood circulation. Great, right?
If it’s practiced in a more accelerated rhythm it works like a cardiovascular workout, while in a slower rhythm, it tones the muscles and becomes a more contemplative and meditative practice.
Surya Namaskar: a Sequence
1. Stand on your feet on the front of the sticky mat. Bring the big toes together and keep your wheels a little bit apart. Keep your legs active, stretch your spine and your neck. Maintain your shoulders relaxed and your chest open. The arms along your body. Take a few breaths here and recognize your balance point. You can even close your eyes and feel your center. It’s way more challenging than what it looks like.
2. Inhale and raise your arms. Bring your palms together and look up (in case it’s ok for your neck, otherwise, keep looking forward), at the same time relax your shoulders and open your chest.
3. Exhale and bend forward, trying to reach the floor with your hands. If not possible, bend your knees. Relax your neck and head and feel the weight on your feet.
4. Breathe in, stretch your arms and look forward (your back is like a table now). Keep your shoulders away from your ears.
5. Exhale, walk back with your feet to the plank pose. Keep your body aligned to protect your back and inhale.
6. Exhale and slowly go down, keeping your body aligned and your core strong. Keep the elbows next to your body and stop before you reach the floor. The shoulders must be aligned with your elbows.
7. Breathe in, open your chest forward, keeping all your body away from the floor except the top of your feet. The glutes must be firm to protect your lower back.
8. Breathe out and move your hips up with your tailbone towards the sky, to the Downward Facing Dog position.
9. Inhale and bring both of your feet in between your hands. Look forward with your spine straight.
10. Exhale, bend forward and try to bring your head close to your legs. You can bend your knees.
11. Inhale and raise with your arms stretched, and finally with your palms together.
12. Exhale and bring your hands together in front of your heart in Anjali mudra.
Use this or another Surya Namaskar sequence, add it to your everyday habits and feel the difference in your life!
You may also like:
- Yoga: the ultimate guide for types and benefits
- 5 indispensable floor asanas for your yoga practice
- Pranayama: improve your vital energy
- Yoga Mantras: Om Shanti Om