Surya Namaskar is a physical exercise which workouts 95% to 97% of our muscles as against only 35 to 40% of our muscles that are used in daily activities. The cardio exercising of Surya Namaskar and the breathing exercise (Pranayam) enables greater oxygen circulation in the body. The steps in the Surya Namaskar, when sequentially executed, induce a state of mind that is free of thought without any mental stress and strain at all. It is a real rest to the mind. In this article, I am concentrating on the physical exercise only, not the Surya mantra.
Since it is advised not to eat anything 5-6 hours before this performance, it is logical to do it in the early morning upon waking up. At the beginning of the practice, one Surya Namaskar consumes 02.30 KCL. This exercise burns out a lot of calories and reduces body mass and body weight.
- Persons suffering from slip-disk, arthritis, heart attack etc including pregnant women are suggested to take medical opinion before they start the practice of Surya Namaskar.
- If the breathing goes fast while practising Surya Namaskar, either take some rest or stop performing more Surya Namaskar for the day.
- After the practice is over, lay down in Shawasan / Yoga Nidra for some time.
Steps in Surya Namaskar
2) urdhva hastasana
4) chaturanga dandasana
6) urdhva hastasana
This entire series is to be performed on one leg. At completion, it is to be repeated on the other leg too.
The steps mentioned above have been simplified in the chart below. However, there being composite steps, the breakdown causes the list to increase.
Start in a standing position, facing the sun. Both feet should be touching; palms joined together, in prayer pose.
With a deep inhalation, raise both arms above your head and tilt slightly backward arching the back.
With a deep exhalation, bend forward and touch the mat, both palms aligned with the feet, forehead touching the knees.
With a deep inhalation, take the right leg away from the body, in a big backward step. Both the hands should be firmly planted on the mat, the left foot between the hands, head tilted towards the ceiling.
Holding the breath take the right leg back to join the left leg. Now straighten both hands, legs and back. Neck spine, thighs and feet should be in a straight line.
With a deep exhalation, shove the hips and butt up towards the ceiling, forming an upward arch. The arms should be straight and aligned with your head.
With a deep exhalation, lower the body down till the forehead, chest, knees, hands and feet are touching the mat, butt tilted up. Take a normal breath in this pose.
With a deep inhalation, slowly snake forward till the head is up, back arched concave, as much as possible.
Exhaling deeply, again push the butt and hips up towards the ceiling as in position 6, arms aligned straight with the head.
Inhaling deeply, bring the right foot in towards the body, in a big forward step. Both the hands should planted firmly on the mat, right foot between the hands, head tilted towards the ceiling.
Exhaling deeply, rise up and touch the mat, keeping both the palms in line with the feet, forehead touching the knees.
Inhaling deeply, raise both arms above the head and tilt slightly backward.
Return to stand facing the sun, both feet touching, palms joined together, in prayer pose.
When repeated 25 times, on both legs, Suryapranam gives optimum results. However, it is not possible for beginners to do that right from the first attempt. They need to take it slow and start at 4 or 5 times, and gradually increase the number with patience and practice.