One of the most common and ancient practices of yogic exercise, surya namaskar is comprised of two Sanskrit words 'surya' means ' the sun god' and 'namaskar' means 'connoting obeisance'. Surya namaskar is an integration of 12 simple postures and is a common practice of hatha yoga. It helps in the development of both body and mind simultaneously.
Surya namaskar is generally performed on a mat in eight steps, which includes 12 postures. These postures are carried out in a specific sequence, which are:
1) Dakshasana: This is the first step in which you take the position to do surya namaskar. In this first concentrate your mind with a positive thinking in mind and stand erect facing towards east. Stretch your hands, neck and all parts of body. Then, touch your thighs with your palms (with stretched arms) and pump up the chest with your eyes pointing the tip of the nose. This position is also called attention position. The major benefits of this position is, it improves the respiratory system, promotes balance in the body and stimulates neck and back muscles.
2) Namaskarasana: Fold your both hands as such your both thumbs touching your chest. Pump up your chest and pull your belly in as far as possible. You should look straight during this. The head, the neck and the body should lie in a straight line without any bent. Take deep breath inside and hold it to the maximum and then exhale. Your mouth should be closed during this procedure. This position improves the digestive system and improves the flexibility in back and hips. It also tones your spine.
Raise your arms up and stretch your whole body backward to maximum extent. Look in the sky with open eyes while this. Now, take a deep breath in and expand your chest at the same time. It improves the circulatory system and spinal nerves. It also stretches the back and leg muscles and tones the abdomen.
4) Namaskara Hastapadasana:
Take a deep breath inside with your nose and bend the upper part of body forward with knees straight in position. After that, leave both the palms in rest on the ground and try to touch your knees with your forehead or nose and then, release your breath with an audible sound. It provides strength to hand and wrist.
5) Ekapada Prasaranasana:
Inhale and move your right leg backward in such a way that the knees and finger of the legs touching the ground. In this step, your belly and abdomen should give pressure to the left leg. Looking upward, raise your head possibly, to the maximum extent. Now push your waist down and hold your breath. Try to stay in this position as long as possible. It stimulates the heart functioning and blood circulation it also provides relief from neck and shoulder tension.
Inhale deeply and hold your breath. Now, move both your legs backward as such the thumbs of the feet, ankles and knees touch each other. Keep the feet stable in that position and bend forward with the head, waist, elbows and the back lying in a line. Rest both your palms on the ground in the same position. Your body looks like a bow in this position. Practice of Bhudharasana gives strength to muscles of arms and legs and increases the flexibility of shoulder, neck and arms.
7) Ashthanga Pranipatasana:
Hold your breath; keep your knees in rest on the ground. Then, touch the ground with your chest and lower part of your neck with chin. Your upper part of forehead and nose should also touch the ground during this. Both the hands should be positioned on the side of the chest. You should pull in your abdomen so that it should not touch the ground. Then release the breath. Performing this tones the abdominal tract and stimulates the nervous system. It stretchses the upper and lower body.
Keeping yourself in the same position as in Ashthanga Pranipatasana, unfold your arms and move upward taking a deep breath, pump the chest out and bend your chest in backward direction. Move upward and bend your head backward with eyes pointing the sky and stretch backward as much as possible and release the breath.
This is done in the same order as done previously in
10) Ekapada Prasaranasana:
Repeat the same process as done earlier during Ekapada
Prasaranasana position of namaskara except the position of the legs should be reversed.
11) Namaskara Hastapadasana:
Repeat the same process as before in Namaskara
Follow the same steps in before in Parvatasana.
After that come back to the initial position and repeat all the steps again. Thus, in order to get a healthy start to your day, you should practice surya namaskar daily in the morning. It refreshes our body and mind and revitalizes us to start an energetic day. Each step performed during the surya namaskara has some significance and hence it is considered to be very beneficial in order to keep us healthy and fit.