Surya Namaskar – A Holistic Workout!!

Jayanti Krishnan

As we already know, Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is a sequence of 12 powerful yoga poses. Besides being a great cardiovascular workout, Surya Namaskar is also known to have an immensely positive impact on the body and mind.

Each round of Sun Salutation consists of two sets (one for right and one for left side), and each set comprises of 12 yoga poses. You might find several versions on how to practice the Sun Salutation. In more advanced versions, each posture can be held for a minute or two.

I personally learnt it from my mother when I was around 10 years old. Eventually I improvised by joining yoga classes. Currently I am practicing the advance version from EKAM YOGA. Besides good health, Surya Namaskar also provides an opportunity to express gratitude to the sun for sustaining life on this planet. The thoughts/mental affirmations during this asana are equally important and generate positive energy. It is best done early morning on an empty stomach.

As a ready reckoner, I have tried to share some tips and mental affirmations that can help while doing the salutation. This not only brings emotional stability but also increases energy levels throughout the day.

StepNameHow to DoMental ThoughtsTip/ Remarks
1Pranamasana (Prayer pose)1. Stand at the edge of your mat in the front, keep your feet together and balance your weight equally on both the feet. 2. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders. 3. Keep your palms together in prayer position. 4. Keep your core and thigh muscles tight.Focus on your inner self and pay respect to all beings and GOD. 
2Urdhva Hastasana (Raised arms pose)  1. Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. 2. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers. (Feel the complete stretch of your body)I open myself to the Universe and the umpteen opportunities it provides me.Stretch your spine, neck and core completely. This enhances the lung capacity and releases anxiety.
3Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)  1. Breathing out, bend forward from the waist keeping the spine erect. 2. As you exhale completely, bring the hands down to the floor beside the feet. 3. Draw your belly in as you lengthen the spine and keep your knees straight.I let go of everything, including all the tensions I carry.      You may bend the knees, if necessary, to bring the palms down to the floor. Now make a gentle effort to straighten the knees. Your spine, hips, hamstrings and calf will feel the stretch.
4Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)  1. Breathing in, push your right leg back, as far back as possible. 2. Bring the right knee to the floor. 3. Look up while tilting the head a little bit forwardI look forward to the joyous future and am ready for all challenges the day is going to throw at me.Leg should be in between the palms. It strengthens and tones the leg muscles.
5Dandasana (Plank pose)  1. As you breathe in, take the left leg back. 2. Bring the whole body in a straight line while engaging the core.  I am strong and my mind is only focusing on the present moment.Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor. You may also do the Elbow Plank.
6Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts or points)  1. Gently bring your knees down to the floor and exhale. 2. Keep your palms in line with your shoulders. 3. Touch the floor in eight spots – two hands, two feet, two knees, chest and chin.  I have full faith in GOD and he is always there to support me.Strengthens the back and neck.
7Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)  1. Slide forward and raise the chest up into the cobra pose. 2. Arch back and look up at the ceiling. (Feel the beautiful stretch in your core area)I forgive everyone and open my heart towards all beings.As you inhale, make a gentle effort to push the chest forward; as you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down. Focus on the posture.
8Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog pose)  1. Breathing out, lift the hips and the tailbone up to bring the body into an inverted ‘V’ pose. 2. Usually done in 5 Steps: a) Touch the heel on the floor, b) Stretch the lower / middle and upper back, c) Look at your naval, d) Fix your palms and heels on the mat, and e) Try touching your head on the floor.I accept myself and everyone else as they are. I surrender to the Universe and my inner powers are manifesting in whatever I do.If possible, hold for minimum 30 seconds. This fills your brain with oxygen.
9Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)  1. Breathing in, bring the right foot forward in between the two hands. 2. The left knee goes down on the floor. 3. Look up while tilting the head a little bit forward.  I look forward to the joyous future and am ready for all challenges the day is going to throw at me.Leg should be in between the palms. It strengthens and tones the leg muscles.
10Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)  1. Breathing out, bring the left foot forward. 2. Keep the palms on the floor. 3. You may bend the knees, if necessary. 4. Draw your belly in as you lengthen the spine.I let go of everything and all the tensions I carry.  You may bend the knees, if necessary, to bring the palms down to the floor. Now make a gentle effort to straighten the knees. Your spine, hips, hamstrings and calf will feel the stretch.
11Urdhva Hastasana (Raised arms pose)  1. Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. 2. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers. (Feel the complete stretch of your body)I open myself to the Universe and the umpteen opportunities it provides me.Stretch your spine, neck and core completely. This enhances the lung capacity and releases anxiety.
12Pranamasana (Prayer pose)1. As you exhale, first straighten the body, then bring the arms down. 2. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders. 3. Keep your palms together in prayer position. 4. Keep your core and thigh muscles tight. 5. Relax in this position and observe the sensations in your body.Focus on your inner self and pay respect to all beings and GOD. 

You may also chant mantras given below for a holistic experience. That is why it is often termed as a complete ritual in itself.

The above is based on my experience. You may also try to do this in open air for maximum benefits.

So what are you waiting for?

For the next one week, take up this challenge:

Do 12 rounds of sun salutation (start with 4 and gradually increase to 12), along with mental affirmations and start seeing visible changes in you. Don’t forget to relax for 2-3 min after the session – Shavasana or Ohm chanting are good ways to relax.

You will be amazed to find that this simple mantra will help you stay fit, happy, and peaceful throughout the day. It undoubtedly improves overall health, strengthens the body and relaxes the mind. Because yoga is essentially a practice for your soul, working through the medium of your body.

For first timers – it is essential to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher. In case of any medical conditions, practice yoga only after consulting your doctor.

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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