The Sun is the source of all energy and the supporter of all life-forms. It is more than just a star to us and Indian culture respects and worships this powerful source as a deity. Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is one way we pay respect to the “sun god” and in turn gain health benefits. It involves twelve steps or twelve asanas usually performed in the morning during and after sunrise. The mantra “Om Suryadevaya Namah” is chanted in the beginning followed by a pattern of mantras (mostly “om” followed by specific sounds) in every position helps in building focus.
Surya Namaskara has many benefits ranging from weight loss to meditation or sadhana. The weight loss is gradual and does not have any side-effects. It can also aid in preventing various bodily ailments and diseases. It gives you the benefits of a complete yogic workout. It refreshes you by activating all your chakras. Prolonged practice increases muscular flexibility and improves your posture. Yogis perform this every morning as a part of meditation and to get the blood circulation going. The Shavasana (corpse position) performed at the end has a calming effect on your mind hence reducing anxiety. It increases appetite by helping your digestive system work more resourcefully. The breathing exercises (alternate inhaling and exhaling) done along with surya namskar increase the flow of oxygen whereas the mantras enhance your spirituality.
The 12 steps for completing one circle of Surya Namaskars are as follows:
1 Pranamasana – In this position you simply do a Namaste while standing straight and exhale. It symbolizes showing respect to the Sun and activates the Anahata or heart chakra.
2 Hasta Uttanasana – This is the “raised arms pose” done while inhaling. It works on the Vishuddhi or purification chakra.
3 Hastapaadasana – In Sanskrit, “hasta” means hand and “paad” means feet, in this pose you bend and touch your feet with your palms. It works on the Swadhisthana chakra.
4 Ekpaad-prasarnasana– It activates the Ajna or brow chakra.
6 Ashtang Namaskara – It works on the Manipura chakra, the one near the navel.
7 Bhujangasana – It is called the “cobra pose”. It helps in reducing stomach flab and strengthening the spine.
8 Adho Mukha Svanasana – Same as Parvatasana.
10 Uttanasana – Same as step 3.
11 Hasta Uttanasana – Same as step 2.
12 Pranamasana– Same as step 1.
At the end of approximately 10 circles of Surya Namaskar, it is advised to lie down in shavasana for five minutes to give the body some rest post exercise. Surya namaskar is fast gaining popularity across the globe because it is easy to perform daily and offers a wide range of benefits. Everyone should reap the benefits of this ancient yogic marvel.