International Day of Yoga 2018: The Steps and Benefits of Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutes
Sun salutations (Photo Credits: Flickr, Michael Pravin)

Is it possible to imagine life on the planet had it not been for the sun? The steadfast star at the centre of our planetary system nourishes life on Earth. In yoga, a set of 12 powerful yogasanas are performed in a sequence known as the Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation. As the name suggests, the sequence is performed to greet the sun, the nourisher of life on the planet, and express gratitude for its bounties.

The Surya Namaskar has immense health benefits. But it’s also known to heal the mind. As part of our countdown towards International Day of Yoga, let’s learn more about this powerful yoga sequence.

The 12 steps of the Surya Namaskar. (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

How To Perform Surya Namaskar

The best time to perform Surya Namaskar is in the morning, at sunbreak. Make sure your stomach is empty. In each round, one should perform two sets of the Surya Namaskar, with 12 poses each.

1 Pranama Pose

Stand on a yoga mat with your feet together. Breathe deeply and lift your arms from both sides and bring your palms together as if in a prayer.

2 Hastauttanasana Pose

Inhale deeply and lift the arms up, keeping your biceps close to your ears and your palms still joined. Push your pelvis forward.

3 Hastapadasana Pose

Breathing out, bend forward and touch your feet in a hastapadasana pose.

4 Ashwa Sanchalanasana 

Inhaling deeply, push your right leg back, keeping your left foot on the ground. Now join your hands and raise it above your head. Bend a little backwards.

5 Adho Mukha Svanasana

Exhale and push your hips towards the ceiling to form an inverted V shape with your body.

6 Ashtanga Namaskara

It means the salutation involving eight parts of the body. Lower the body in such a way that it is parallel to the ground. Only your toes, knees, chest, palms and chin should touch the ground. Keep the hip and abdomen slightly above the ground. Suspend your breath while you perform this part.

7 Bhujangasana 

Inhale and perform the bhujangasana. Let your lower body make contact with the floor and support your upper body on your palms. Keep your back straight.

8 Adho Mukha Svanasana

Repeat step 5

9 Ashwa Sanchalanasana

Repeat step 4

10 Hastapadasana

Repeat step 3

11 Hastauttanasana

Repeat step 2

12 Tadasana

Exhale and straighten your body and bring your arms down, keeping hands on either side. Relax for a while and notice all the different sensations in the body.

Here's a video to assist you:

Benefits of Surya Namakar

The benefits of Sun Salutes are myriad. Numerous studies done on the subject vouch for its cardiovascular and muscle-strengthening properties. It helps you relax from within. Those looking towards losing weight will benefit immensely from Surya Namaskar. Round off the set of Surya Namaskar with shavasana for ultimate relaxation.