Here we will introduce to you 12 Sun Salutation postures. See how to start and how to do sun salutation and what are the physical and mental benefits of this yoga practice.
Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is a series of postures that warms, strengthens, and aligns the entire body. It serves as an all-purpose yoga tool, kind of like a hammer that’s also a saw and a screwdriver if you can imagine such a thing.
This sequence might be considered the classic one, but there are so many variations that many modern schools would dispute this. You can alter this particular Sun Salutation by playing with its pace. If you move through the sequence rapidly (by transitioning into the next pose each time you inhale or exhale), you’ll warm up fairly quickly.
Start with 5 or 6 repetitions and gradually build to 12 or more or set a timer starting with 3 minutes and gradually increase to 10 or more.
Or try moving slowly and deliberately, and you’ll feel how the sequence becomes a sort of moving meditation. As you practice this way, center your awareness at some point in your body (such as your third eye or your heart) and challenge yourself to keep focusing there for the duration of the practice.
Moving quickly is more stimulating while moving slowly is more calming. Whichever way you do it, the sequence can serve as either a self-contained mini practice on days when your practice time is short or a warm-up for a longer session.
Before You Begin
Warm-Up: Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your palms pressed together in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal).
Focus for a few minutes on the inner sun at your heart, which is the microcosmic equivalent of the outer sun at the heart of our solar system. Your inner sun represents the light of consciousness, without which nothing would exist—just as our physical world wouldn’t exist without the sun.
If Sun Salutations are your warm-up for general practice, move slowly and consciously, gradually building heat. If Sun Salutations are your whole practice, do a 2- to 5-minute Downward Dog as a warm-up.
Sun Salutation comprises 12 Mantras for every posture in it.
Some chant the mantras at the beginning of each round while some chant it with each pose.
However, anything is fine.
You can chant the mantra within your heart to make breathing easier.
You are welcome to follow any of the methods, but the second method (chanting mantra with every pose) is the correct way.
Here are the 12 Sun Salutation Mantra followed by the meaning of each mantra.
Mantras of Sun Salutation (with meaning):
1. Om Mitraya Namaha
Salutation to the one who is a friend of everyone
2. Om Ravaye Namaha
Salutation to the shining one
3. Om Suriyaya Namaha
Salutation to the one who induces activity
4. Om Bhanave Namaha
Salutation to the one whose brightness illuminates the earth
5. Om Khagaya Namaha
Salutation to the one who moves in the sky
6. Om Pushne Namaha
Salutation to the one who gives strength
7. Om Iranya Kerbhaya Namaha
Salutation to the Golden womb from which everything else emerged
8. Om Marichaye Namaha
Salutation to the Lord of the Dawn
9. Om Savitiri Namaha
Salutation to the mother of creation
10. Om Arkaya Namaha
Salutation to the one who deserves worship
11. Om Adityaya Namaha
Salutation to the son of Aditi, the cosmic mother
12. Om Bhaskaraya Namaha
Salutation to the one who brightens both the internal and external world
Chanting these mantras as you perform the Sun Salutation poses helps your body in attracting the Sun’s vibration more effectively.
How To Do Sun Salutation
Sun Salutation includes 12 Yoga asanas.
Let’s go through the Sun Salutation sequence step-by-step, one at a time.
Step 1: Pranamasana
Pranamasana is the very 1st Posture of Sun Salutation. It is called ‘THE PRAYER POSE‘.
It is similar to the Indian way of greeting people.
Here is how you do Pranamasana.
- Stand on the edge of your Yoga mat and look straight.
- Place your feet together. Balance your whole body-weight equally on both the feet and relax your shoulders.
- As you feel the shoulders are relaxed, breathe in and lift your both arms above your head slowly.
- Now, bring the arms to the prayer position between your chest as you breathe out.
- Stay in this position and chant the mantra – Om Mitraya Namaha.
Benefits of Pranamasana:
- Pranamasana offers you a sense of relaxation
- It builds up concentration
Step 2: Hasta Uttanasana
Hasta Uttanasana is the Second Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE RAISED ARMS POSE.
To do this pose,
- Start inhaling slowly as you chant the mantra – Om Ravaye Namaha.
- As you breathe in, lift your arms up and back. Make sure your biceps are close to your ears.
- Now, bend your body backward as much as you can.
Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana:
- Hasta Uttanasana helps you in improving flexibility.
- The Asana also helps in digestion.
- As you tend to stretch backward as much as you can, it stretches and tones abdomen muscles.
- Hasta Uttanasana expands your chest and rib cage, thereby, improving the intake of oxygen. This helps in the full use of your lung capacity.
Step 3: Hasta Padasana
Hasta Padasana is the Third Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE HAND TO FOOT POSE.
Follow the steps to complete this Asana.
Remember, the legs should be straight during this sequence.
As you practice, deepen this posture by trying to place your palms on the ground while bending. Also, try to touch your legs with the forehead.
This sums the completion of this asana perfectly.
Benefits of Hasta Padasana:
- Hasta Padasana is a good posture to reduce belly fat.
- It also increases flexibility.
- The Asana stretches your back muscles and back of your legs’ muscles.
- Hasta Padhasana improves digestion and eliminates constipation.
- It decreases the occurrence of many stomach related issues.
- Hasta Padhasana also helps in keeping your spine erect by toning the nerves there.
Step 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana
Ashwa Sanchalasana is the Fourth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE EQUESTRIAN POSE.
Follow the below steps to complete this Asana.
- As you inhale, take your left leg backward and stretch it as much as you can.
- Bend your right knee with your palms still flat on the ground.
- Arch your back now. Tilt your head backward and see straight ahead.
- As you perform this Asana, chant the mantra – Om Bhanave Namaha.
Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana also helps your abdominal organs.
- It also aids in nerve balance.
- The Asana increases the flexibility of legs as you stretch them during the sequence.
Step 5: Parvatasana
Parvatasana is the Fifth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE MOUNTAIN POSE.
To do it,
- While exhaling and chanting the mantra – Om Khagaya Namaha, take your right leg back and place it in position with your left leg.
- Now, raise your buttocks and keep your head between your hands.
- If noted, this asana resembles the mountain from sidewards.
Benefits of Parvatasana:
- Parvatasana improves the blood circulation in your spinal region and brain.
- As your body weight during this Asana is distributed equally on your legs and hands, it increases the strength of legs and hands.
Step 6: Ashtanga Namaskara
Ashtanga Namaskara is the Sixth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE EIGHT-LIMBED SALUTATION.
Here is how to do it.
- As you hold your breath bring your body forward.
- Let it touch the ground at 8 points – 2 Feet, 2 Knees, 2 Hands, Chest, and Chin.
- Chant the mantra – Om Pushne Namaha.
- NOTE: Make sure your hands are in line with the shoulders.
Benefits of Ashtanga Namaskara:
- Ashtanga Namaskara strengthens your hands, legs, and chest together.
Step 7: Bhujangasana
Bhujangasana is the Seventh Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE COBRA POSE.
This is how you do it.
- Inhale and raise your body with the help of your hands while chanting the mantra – Om Iranya Kerbhaya Namaha.
- Tilt your head backward and see straight up.
- You will find that this pose would look like a cobra raising its hood and hence called The Cobra Pose.
Benefits of Bhujangasana:
- Bhujangasana is a great posture to strengthen your lower back.
- The Asana stretches your spine and muscles surrounding it perfectly.
- It is good for the lower abdomen, digestive organs, urinary organs and reproductive organs in women.
- It tones your butt muscles.
- Most importantly, if you are a woman with menstrual abnormalities, master Bhujangasana perfectly. It will help you with it.
Step 8: Parvatasana
Parvatasana is the Eighth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE MOUNTAIN POSE.
Yes, it is the same Fifth pose again.
So, this is how you complete it.
- Exhale and lift your buttocks to its peak.
- This time you must chant the mantra – Om Marichaye Namaha.
Step 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana
This is the same as Step 4 but with a different leg.
Follow the steps as mentioned below.
- Start inhaling and chant the mantra – Om Savitiri Namaha.
- As you chant the mantra, fold your left leg while the right leg is stretched to its maximum.
- Arch your back and tilt your head.
Step 10: Hasta Padasana
This posture is the same as Step 3.
Here is how we completed the asana in that step, follow the same procedure.
Again, with practice, the efficiency of doing this asana will improve.
Placing your palms on the ground, touching your legs with your head and doing all this with the legs not bent is just days away.
Step 11: Hasta Uttanasana
Yes, you must have got it right. This is the same as Step 2.
Do it as follows.
- Start inhaling by chanting the mantra – Om Adityaya Namaha.
- Lift your arms with palms stuck to each other in prayer position.
- Bend your body backward as much as possible.
- With practice, you will see that you can bend more backward every time.
Step 12: Pranamasana
Now we end one round of Sun Salutation with Step 1.
- From Hasta Uttanasana posture come back to Pranamasana steadily as you exhale. Chant the mantra – Om Bhaskaraya Namaha as you perform the sequence.
Benefits of Sun Salutation
Sun Salutation is a very simple routine as you have seen. But it incorporates powerful asanas which together offer you immense health benefits.
Here are the various health benefits of Sun Salutation.
Toning and loosening up muscles and joints:
Sun Salutation postures involve stretching muscles and joints.
This helps in toning and loosening up muscles and joints in various parts of your body.
In particular, the abdominal region as a whole, legs, hands, shoulders, spine, and stomach region are highly benefitted.
Reduces body disorders:
Sun Salutation keeps a check of the respiratory, circulatory, reproductive and endocrine systems.
If you are a woman and still not practicing Sun Salutation, I would highly recommend you to start with it now. It is going to give you a whole lot of positive experience.
Sun Salutation for weight loss:
Here we are, the main issue of the current and so-called modern generation – Obesity or excessive body weight.
Sun Salutation can even help you with weight loss.
- Sun Salutation improves general body strength and body endurance significantly (Source).
- Sun Salutation can help you overcome hair loss as it increases blood circulation to your head.
- One important benefit of Sun Salutation is that it activates the Surya Nadi which is one of the main channels of energy in the body.
- You will feel a better YOU as Surya Namaskar eliminates laziness.
- It keeps your mind alert at all times.
Conclusion: These Sun Salutation postures will help you to maintain physical and mental health. Start practicing them and start living healthy and peacefully.