This dynamic exercise is not traditionally regarded as part of yoga practices but it is a good method of loosening up all the joints and muscles in the body, along with massaging all the internal organs. It is an excellent exercise to do in the morning after taking a bath and before practicing any other yogic techniques or asanas . If one feels tired at any time of the day, the Surya Namaskar will restore all your lost vitality, both physical and mental.

General Benefits of the Surya Namaskar

With the description of each Position a few benefits are given which can be directly attributed to that particular stage. However, Surya Namaskar gives an almost uncountable number of other benefits, which cannot be attributed to any one Position but are the result of the whole practice.

Surya Namaskar has a very powerful influence on all the systems of the body. Endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, etc. and helps in bringing them into balance with each other. Many diseases are caused when one or more of these systems are out of balance with the other systems. Surya Namaskara brings all of them into equilibrium, and thus helps in remedying many ailments that often trouble humanity.

During the practice of Surya Namaskar all the major muscles of our body are involved in a proper way. Daily practice of this exercise keeps the whole body healthy and removes excess fat. It revitalizes the body and mind along with improving the thinking power of a person.

In the Surya Namaskar All the abdominal organs are alternately stretched and compressed. The alternate stretching and compression of the abdominal organs while performing the Surya Namaskar strengthens the digestive system. This ensures that the organs function correctly. If they do not work efficiently at present, it encourages them to do so. These positions benefit those suffering from constipation, dyspepsia or indigestion.

Many people do not breathe properly. Synchronization of the breath with the physical movement during Surya Namaskar ensures that the practitioner, at least for a few minutes daily, breathes deeply and rhythmically as he should. This removes stagnant, germ-filled air from the lungs and replaces it with healthy, oxygen enriched air. Increased mental clarity is brought about by the influx of fresh, oxidized blood to the brain.

Perspiration is a vital function since it is one of the body’s methods of eliminating impurities. If people do not get enough physical exercise to work up a sweat, these impurities remain inside the body and cause or aggravate disease, or at the very least, skin problems. Surya Namaskar rectifies this and gives a radiant complexion to those plagued with boils and pimples.

Many people in this modern world suffer from nervous system problems. There is no better way to remove nervous tension, stress and anxiety than by regularly doing Surya Namaskar. The movements gently massage the nervous connections throughout the whole body, allowing them to relax and become revitalized.

To summarize, Surya Namaskara is the ideal exercise to bestow good health, and who does not want good health? Surya Namaskar is recommended for all people, fit or unfit, young or old big or small, male or female.

The 12 Positions of Surya Namaskar

The Surya Namaskar is made up of 12 Positions, each of which corresponds to one of the 12 signs of the zodiac. One complete round of Surya Namaskar consists of these 12 Positions performed in succession twice. Associated with each of the 12 Positions is a mantra, which for optimum benefit should be repeated verbally or mentally.

Position I : Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)

Pranamasana

  • Stand erect with the feet together.
  • Place the palms together in front of the chest.
  • Relax the whole body.

Breath: Normal.

Concentration: On Anahata Chakra.

Mantra: Om Mitraya Namaha (Salutations to the friend of all)

Benefits: Establishes a state of concentration and calmness in the body thus preparing yur mind and body for the exercises to be done.

Position 2 : Hasta uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)

Hasta uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)

  • Raise both arms above the head.
  • Keep the arms separated by one shoulder width.
  • Bend the head and the upper trunk of your body in backward direction.

Breath: Inhale while raising the arms.

Concentration: On Vishuddhi Chakra.

Mantra: Om Ravaye Namaha (Salutations to the shining one)

Benefits: Stretches the abdominal viscera, removing excess fat and also helps in improving digestion. Exercises the arm and shoulder muscles, tones the spinal nerves and opens all the lung compartments.

Position 3 : Padahastasana (The Hand to Foot Pose)

Position 3 : Padahastasana (The Hand to Foot Pose)

  • Bend forward until the fingers or hands touch the ground on either side of the feet, or in front of the feet.
  • Try to touch the knees with the forehead.
  • Do not strain.
  • Keep the legs straight.

Breath: Exhale as you bend forward.Try to contract the abdomen in the final Position to expel the maximum amount of air.

Concentration: On Swadhisthana Chakra.

Mantra: Om Suryāya Namaha (Salutations to he who induces activity)

Benefits: Useful in eliminating or preventing stomach or abdominal ailments. Reduces surplus fat in the abdominal region, improves digestion and helps to relieve constipation. Improves blood circulation, makes the spine supple and tones the spinal nerves.

Position 4 : Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose)

Surya namsaskar

  • Stretch the right leg in the backward direction, as far as possible.
  • At the same time bend the left knee but keep the left foot in the same Position. The arms should remain straight and in the same Position.
  • In the final Position, the weight of the body should be supported on the two hands, the left foot, the right knee and the toes of the right foot. The head should be tilted in the backward direction, the back arched and the gaze should be directed in the upward direction.

Breath: Inhale while stretching the right leg backward.

Concentration: On Ajna Chakra.

Mantra: Om Bhãnave Namaha (Salutations to he who illumines)

Benefits: Massages the abdominal organs and improves their functioning. The muscles of the legs are strengthened. Nervous balance is attained.

Position 5 : Parvatasana (The Mountain Pose)

Surya namsaskar

  • Straighten the left leg and place the left foot besides the right foot.
  • Raise the buttocks in the air and lower the head so that it lies between the two arms. The body should form two sides of a triangle.
  • The legs and arms should be straight in the final Position.
  • Try to keep the heels in contact with the ground in this pose.

Breath: Exhale as you straighten the left leg and bend the trunk.

Concentration: On Vishuddhi Chakra.

Mantra: Om Khagāya Namaha (Salutations to he who moves quickly in the sky)

Benefits: Strengthens the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs. Bends the spine in the opposite direction to the previous pose and so further helps to make it supple. Tones the spinal nerves and supplies them with a fresh flow of blood.

Position 6 : Ashtanga namaskara (The Salute with 8 Limbs)

surya namaskar

  • Lower the body to the ground so that in the final Position only the toes of both feet, the two knees, the chest, the hands and the chin touch the ground.
  • The hips and abdomen should be raised slightly off the ground.

Breath: Hold your breath. No respiration.

Concentration: On Manipura Chakra.

Mantra: Om pushne namaha (Salutations to the giver of strength)

Benefits: Strengthens the leg and arm muscles. Develops the chest.

Position 7 : Bhujangasana (The Cobra Pose)

Surya namsaskar

  • Raise the body from the waist by straightening the arms.
  • Bend the head in the backward direction.
  • This stage is the final Position of bhujangasana.

Breath: Inhale while raising the body and arching the back.

Concentration: On Swadhisthana Chakra.

Mantra: Om Hiranya Garbhāya Namaha (Salutations to the Golden Cosmic Self)

Benefits: The abdomen is compressed, helping to squeeze stagnant blood from the abdominal organs and enabling the flow of fresh blood. This pose is very useful for all stomach ailments, including indigestion and constipation. This pose also helps in Arching the back along with exercising the spine, making the muscles supple and revitalizing the most important spinal nerves.

Position 8 : Parvatasana (the Mountain Pose)

Surya namsaskar

  • This stage is a repeat of Position 5.
  • From the arched back Position assume the mountain pose as described in Position 5.

Breath: Exhale as you raise the buttocks.

Concentration: On Vishuddhi Vhakra.

Mantra: Om Marichaye Namaha (Salutations to the Lord of the Dawn)

Position 9 : Ashwa sanchalanasana (the Equestrian Pose)

surya namaskar

  • This stage is the same as Position 4.
  • Bend the left leg and bring the left foot forward so that it lies near the hands.
  • Simultaneously lower the right knee so that it touches the floor.

Breath: Inhale while assuming the pose.

Concentration: On Ajna Chakra.

Mantra: Om Adityaya Namaha (Salutations to the son of Aditi)
Note : Aditi is one of the names of the infinite cosmic mother.

Position 10 : Padahastasana (The Hand to Foot Pose)

surya namaskara

  • This Position is a repeat of Position 3.
  • Place the right foot next to the left foot.
  • Straighten both legs and try to bring the forehead as close to the knees as possible.
  • Do not strain if you are unable to touch the knees, but do not bend the legs.

Breath: Exhale while performing the movement.

Concentration:On Swadhisthana Chakra.

Mantra: Om Savitre Namaha (Salutations to the benevolent mother)

Position 11 : Hasta uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)

surya namaskara

  • This stage is a repeat of Position 2.
  • Straighten the whole body and raise the arms above the head.
  • Keep the arms separated by one shoulder’s width.
  • Bend the head and arms in the backward direction slightly.

Breath: Inhale as you straighten the body.

Concentration: On Vishuddhi Chakra.

Mantra: Om Arkaya Namaha (Salutations to he who is fit to be praised)

Position 12 : Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)

Pranamasana

  • This is the final pose and is the same as Position 1.
  • Bring the hands in front of the chest and place both the palms together.
  • Relax the whole body.

Breath: Exhale as you assume the final pose.

Concentration: On Anahata Chakra.

Mantra: Om Bhāskaraya Namaha (Salutations to he who leads to enlightenment)

Positions 13-24: Positions 1 to 12 constitute half a round of Surya Namaskar. For the second half, Positions 1 to 12 are repeated but with a few minor changes:

  1. a) In stage 4, instead of stretching the right foot backward, stretch the left foot back in the same way.
  2. b) In Position 9, bend the right leg and bring the right foot near the hands.

Bija mantras: As an alternative to the twelve names of the sun, there is a series of bija mantras or seed syllables. Bija mantras do not have any literal meaning but set up powerful vibrations of energy within the mind and body. The bija mantras are six in number, and are repeated consecutively in the following order, four times during a complete round of Surya Namaskar.

  1. Om Hrām
  2. Om Hrim
  3. Om Hroom
  4. Om Hraim
  5. Om Hraum
  6. Om Hrah

When Surya Namaskar is practiced, too fast to repeat the sun mantras, then the bija mantras are sufficient.

Duration: For spiritual benefits do 3 to 12 rounds slowly on a daily basis. For physical benefits do 3 to 12 rounds more quickly. Beginners should not do a large number of rounds. They should start with 2 or 3 and add one more round on each successive day. Advanced students can practice a large number of rounds if they wish.

Sequence: Surya Namaskara is ideally practiced before the other asanas. This loosens the whole body and removes sleepiness. After completing Surya Namaskar the practitioner is advised to do shavasana for a few minutes. This will allow the heartbeat and respiration to return to normal rate, and relax all the muscles in the body.

Precautions: The practice of Surya Namaskara should be immediately discontinued if a fever develops due to excess toxins in the body. These toxins should be eliminated over a period of time by practicing other asanas. When the toxins have been removed, Surya Namaskar can again be commended. The practitioner should do rounds that he can comfortably perform without excessive physical fatigue.

Limitations: There are no age limits regarding the practice of Surya Namaskara. Both the old and the young can perform it. Ladies, however, should not do this practice after the fourth month of pregnancy.

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