Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is one of the most popular techniques in yoga. It is considered as a form of thanking the sun for providing energy to all forms of life. Surya Namaskar is a combination of 12 steps which is great for body and mind. It can help you to manage weight, boost metabolic rate, and improve blood circulation. Regular practice of sun salutation will make cardio workout look like a kid’s play. But it is important that you get each of the 12 poses right. Here is a guide to all the steps of Surya Namaskar.
You begin and end Surya Namaskar with this pose. Stand at the edge of the mat with your feet together. Try to balance the body's weight equally on both feet. After a few attempts, you will not have to pay special attention to it. Relax your shoulder and keep them straight to allow lungs to do its best. Now, inhale while lifting the arms and exhale while bringing the palms together in front of your chest.
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This must be performed as a continuation of the prayer pose. Lift the arms and tilt back while inhaling. Your entire body will be stretched once you get the pose right. You may feel a pull on all muscles from your heels to the tips of the fingers. Keep the hands straight and let the back be stretched. You don’t have to push the body in the first few attempts. The back will loosen up and will not feel stiff soon.
Bend down from step 2 while exhaling. Try to touch your feet with your fingers without bending the knee. If you are not used to this kind of movement, touch the ankle first. You will be able to touch the feet within a few days. Hand to foot pose will tone your limbs and abdominal muscles. After a few attempts, inhaling and exhaling while doing raised arms pose and hand to foot pose will become involuntary.
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Step 4 - Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
While transferring to this pose, you should not move your hands. After you bend down to touch the feet in step 3, move the hand to the floor and shift some of your body weight to it. Now, push back your right leg as much as you can while inhaling and bring the right knee close to the floor. Your upper body should be looking up while doing this. It is one of the balancing postures and stretches quadriceps femoris muscle. It also opens up groins and hips.
In the stick pose, you will be balancing on both your legs and hands. All you have to do after step four is to take the left leg to the same position of the right leg. Your body will be in a straight line and arms will be perpendicular to the floor. Exhale while moving to step five. You shall not change the position of your hands or right leg while transferring from step four to five. The movement from one pose to another is key to Surya Namaskar.
This is one of the easiest among sun salutation points. The eight points in your body will be touching the ground in this pose. You can also inhale and exhale normally in this pose. First, bring your knees to the floor. Take the hips back and slid forward to the ground. Rest your chest and chin on the floor. Once you are on the ground, lift the posterior a bit. The eight points touching the floor are chest, chin, two hands, two feet, and two knees.
Step 7 - Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
You will be lifting the upper body off of the floor in cobra pose. You support the body with your hands. However, the elbows must remain bent and shoulders should be away from the ears. Look up as you inhale and gently push your chest forward. Your arms may shake in the beginning as it is not used to bearing the weight while elbows are bent. But the pose will strengthen the arms and abdominal muscles.
Step 8 - Mountain Pose (Parvatasana)
You will be standing like an inverted 'V' in the pose. The balance on your legs and hands while getting up from the cobra pose and lift your hips and tailbone. Keep your head down in line with your arms and exhale. It strengthens your knee, thigh, and ankle. It can also firm abdominal muscles and buttocks.
Step 9 - Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
You will be transitioning to Equestrian Pose again but with alternate legs. Inhale and bring the right foot forward and place between the hands. Push your left leg far back and bring the left knee down to the floor. Look up and try to deepen the stretch by pushing the hips gently downwards.
Step 10 - Hand To Foot Pose (Padahastasana)
Now you are going to repeat the same steps that you did in the first half of Surya Namaskar. Exhale and bring the left foot forward to transition from step nine. Keep the arms steady on the floor and move only the left leg. Try to keep the knees straight. Once your body has become flexible, you might be able to touch your knees with your nose.
Step 11 - Raised Arms Pose (Hasta Uttanasana)
Now bring yourself to raise arms to pose while exhaling. Raising the arms and bend back a little. Ensure the biceps are beside your ears. You can push the hips outward. Try to stretch up more rather than stretching backwards.
Step 12 - Prayer Pose (Pranamasana)
This is the last pose among sun salutation poses. Straighten your body while exhaling and bring the arms down to keep the palms together. Relax for a few seconds before starting the next cycle of Surya Namaskar.
All 12 poses of Surya Namaskar should be performed one after one in a sequence. In the beginning, you can take some time to transition from one pose to the next. Once you get the hang of it, increase your speed.