Stretch, compress, arch: Health benefits of Surya Namaskar

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 08, 2015

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Quick Bites

  • Surya Namaskar provides a complete body warm-up.
  • Your abdominal muscles are strengthened by it.
  • The inhalation and exhalation process help you detox.
  • It helps improve your memory and nervous system.

The stomach-gurgling babaji on TV has sure taught us that yoga ensures holistic health and that we can easily do on our own at home. True that is! But as we sternly resolve to rigidly follow the babaji-with-political-aspirations, and step on the mat, we are clueless about how to start.

No, we don’t directly start with doing a head-stand like our expert yoga guru. But we warm-up! The best way to prepare our body for further toil is to perform a Surya Namaskar the Yoga Sun Salutation Pose. It is a continuous series of 8 related Yoga postures, some done twice, in what totals 13 poses.

Sun salutation helps you stretch, compress, arch, and reinforce major muscles of your body. If done correct, these exercises help your body develop flexibility, strength, balance, concentration and focus.

Surya Namaskar is a continuous series of 8 related Yoga postures, some done twice, in what totals 13 poses. Let’s learn to do them.

surya namaskar1.    Namaskar (Salute)

  • Stand erect with feet together.
  • Join the palms together in front of the chest in a namaskar mudra or prayer position.
  • Concentrate on standing straight, steady and in a meditative mood.

Benefit: This posture helps to induce a state of introversion, relaxation and calmness.

Breathing: Slow and steady breathing.

surya namaskar2.    Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

  • Inhale deeply.
  • Stretch both arms above the head, palms facing upward.
  • Tilt slightly backward arching your back.
  • Stretch the whole body.

Benefit: This posture stretches the chest and the abdomen and lifts the prana (energy) upwards to the upper parts of the body.

Breathing: Start inhaling as you stretch both arms, and hold breath in the stretched arm position.

surya namaskar3.    Padangusthasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

  • Bend the body forward and down, keeping the spine straight.
  • Avoid collapsing the chest or over-rounding the upper back.
  • Keep the legs straight and perpendicular to the ground.
  • You may bend the knees a little, if needed.

Benefit: This posture massages the abdominal organs. The power of digestion increases and female disorders such as menstrual irregularities are relieved.

Breathing: Start exhaling as you bend forward. Exhale fully as you reach the bent position.

surya namaskar4.    Surya Darshan (Sun Sight Pose)

  • Extend the left leg back and drop the right knee to the ground.
  • The right knee is bent up and kept between the palms and the right foot placed flat on the ground.
  • Lift the spine and expand the chest.
  • Look straight and concentrate at the centre of eyebrows.

Breathing: Start inhaling (purak) and fill your lungs as you reach the position.

surya namaskar5.    Purvottanasana (Inclined Plane)

  • Take your right leg away from your body, in a big backward step.
  • Both your hands should be firmly planted on your mat.
  • Your left foot between your hands, head tilted towards the ceiling.

Benefit: Stretches the chest, shoulders and biceps, and strengthens the wrists, arms, glutes and hamstrings.

surya namaskar6.    Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

  • Bring the right leg back to join with the left leg.
  • Simultaneously raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms so the body forms a triangle with the floor.
  • Try to place the heels flat on the ground.

Benefit: This posture strengthens the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs, stretches the calf muscles and makes the spine straight and taut.

Breathing: Start exhaling (rechak) and completely exhale as you reach the posture.

surya namaskar7.    Sashtang Dandawat (Forehead, Chest, Knee to Floor Pose)

  • Gently drop both knees to the ground and slowly slide the body down at an angle as you bring the chest and chin to the ground.
  • All eight limbs – toes, knees, chest, hands and chin should touch the floor.
  • The buttocks are kept up.

Benefit: This posture develops the chest and strengthens the arms. It sends additional blood to this area helping to rejuvenate the nerves.

Breathing: Keep the breath out in the exhaled position as you reach the posture and start inhaling as you move to the next posture.

surya namaskar8.   Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  • Lower the hips while pushing the chest forward and upward with the hands, until the spine is fully arched and the head is facing up.
  • The knees and lower abdomen remain above the floor.
  • Focus your awareness at the base of spine and feel the tension from the forward pull.

This pose gives dynamic expansion to the organs of the chest and abdomen, relieving many ailments such as asthma, constipation, indigestion, kidney and liver problems.

Breathing: Start inhaling. Fill lungs and hold breath as you stay in this posture.

surya namaskar9.    Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

  • Exhaling deeply, again push your butt and hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Align your arms straight with your head.

surya namaskar10.   Surya Darshan (Sun Sight Pose)

  • Extend the right leg back and drop the left knee to the ground.
  • The left knee is bent up and kept between the palms with the sole of left foot flat on ground.
  • Look straight and concentrate at the centre of eyebrows.

surya namaskar11.    Padangusthasana (Hand to Foot Pose)

  • Bring the stretched right foot forward.
  • Join both legs and bend forward bring the head between the knees.

surya namaskar12.    Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

  • Inhale deeply.
  • Stretch both arms above the head, palms facing upward.
  • Tilt slightly backward arching your back.
  • Stretch the whole body.

surya namaskar13.    Namaskar (Salute)

Return to standing position facing the sun, both feet touching, palms joined together, in prayer pose.

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