The sun salutation is the ideal yoga exercise to regain elasticity, have a toned body and a relaxed mind, and not only. It is also called Surya Namaskara. Surya means sun and namaskar salutation.

It’s suitable for everyone, sports and non-sports people, even for those who are yoga beginners, and it can be practiced at all ages.

What is the Surya Namaskara

It is a dynamic sequence of 12 positions (like the hours of the sun), or asana, to be realized in a fluid movement, as if it were a choreography, supported by breathing. At each opening of the body corresponds an inhalation and at each closing an exhalation. Breathing is always done by the nose, mouth closed and with relaxed jaws: inhale from the nose and exhale from the nose.

Surya Namaskara: tips for practicing it

You need to wear comfortable clothes and, if you can practice in the park, stand in front of the sun. Since the surya namaskara consists of numerous movements, it is very important to try them separately in order to become familiar with each of them and then perform the complete sequence.

Yoga is not a sport, so its purpose is not to perform the exercise well but to seek relaxation and harmony when you can perform the whole sequence. Once you are familiar with the asana, you can proceed with the realization of the entire sequence.

As with any yoga posture, it is essential to combine breathing with any movement.  Let go and feel your breath and your body: it is an important moment for you. The more you practice the surya namaskara, the more you develop your self-consciousness.

When to do Surya Namaskara

Originally, it was recommended to practice the sun salutation every morning and every evening, preferably in front of the sun.  It is a thank you to the sun as a source of life but also a sequence of exercises perfect for your body.

This yoga practice acts as a warming up of the body and mind and you can practice it in the morning. On the other hand, the best time to perform the sequence is at dawn because it gives vitality to the body and mind. But the surya namaskara can be practiced several times during the day. For example, in the afternoon it is an excellent natural energizer while in the evening it helps you relax.

How to do Surya Namaskara

The number of series to perform varies from person to person. If you are a yoga beginner, you need to start with a minimum of 2 sequences, which constitute a life cycle, and then increase.

The advice is to be able to perform from 8 to 12 sun salutations.

Position 1: Pranamasana (prayer position). Stand with your feet together, bring your hands together in front of your chest and relax your whole body. Exhale trying to empty the lungs as much as possible without emitting any sound.

Position 2: Hasta uttanasana (upper arm position). Raise your arms above your head, keep your arms separated to shoulder height and bend back your head and upper torso. Breathe in and raise your arms.

Position 3: Padahastasana (position of hands to the feet). Bend your torso until your fingers touch the floor in front of your feet and with your forehead try to touch your knees. Do not force and keep your legs straight. Exhale while bending forward and in the final position try to contract the abdomen to expel the maximum volume of air.

Position 4 : Ashwa sanchalanasana (equestrian position). Stretch your right leg back as far as possible and simultaneously bend your left leg but keep your left foot in the same position. In the final position the weight of the body should be supported by the hands, the left foot, the right knee and the fingers of the right foot. The head should be bent back, the back arched and the look upwards. Breathe in and stretch the right leg back.

Position 5: Parvatasana (mountain position). Raise your left leg and place your left foot next to your right. Lift the pelvis and lower the head so that it is in the middle of the arms, the body should form the two sides of a triangle. In the final position the legs and arms should be straight. Try to keep your heels in contact with the floor and exhale while straighten your left leg and flex the torso.

Position 6: Ashtanga namaskara (salutation with eight body parts). Lower your body to the floor so that in the final position only your toes, knees, chest, hands and chin touch the floor. The hips and abdomen should be slightly lifted off the floor. Breathing should be kept out. Do not breathe.

Position 7: Bhujangasana (snake position). Lift the torso from the waist by stretching the arms. Bend your head back and inhale as you lift your torso and arch your back.

Position 8: Parvatasana (mountain position). This is a repetition of position 5. Exhale while lifting the basin.

Position 9: Ashwa sanchalanasana (equestrian position). This position is the same as position 4. Breathe in while assuming the position.

Position 10: Padahastasana (position of hands to the feet). This position is a repetition of position 3. Exhale while performing the movement.

Position 11: Hasta uttanasana (upper arm position). This stage is the same as position 2. Inhale while stretching the body.

Position 12: Pranamasana (prayer position). This is the final position and it is the same as position 1. Bring your hands in front of your chest with the palms together. Relax your whole body and exhale taking the final position.

8 Benefits of Surya Namaskara

Here are some benefits of the sun salutation:

-It is excellent to warm up and tone the whole body.

-It can help to correct wrong postures and strengthen all muscles in the body.

-It develops concentration, coordination and balance.

-It improves the intestinal transit.

-It is useful to oxygenate blood.

-It is helpful to calm the mind.

-It regulates the sleep.

-It improves breathing and the cardiovascular rhythm.

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