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SURYA NAMASKAR         (Take Demo Test)
  • Topics, Revision Notes and 2 Tests
  • Subject: Yoga Science

  • NIRF Yoga Certification Ranking: 27
  • Syllabus: CBSE (NCERT) + UGC NET (University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test) Based
SURYA NAMASKAR         (Read Demo Chapter)
  • Topics, Revision Notes and 2 Tests
  • Subject: Yoga Science

  • NIRF Yoga Certification Ranking: 27
  • Syllabus: CBSE (NCERT) + UGC NET (University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test) Based

Surya Namaskara

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The Sanskrit name surya here refers to the sun and namaskara means 'salutations'. Surya namaskara has been handed down from the enlightened sages of the Vedic Age. The sun symbol- ises Spiritual consciousness and, in  ancient times, was worshipped on a daily basis. In yoga the sun is represented by pingala or surya nadi, the pranic channel which carries the vital, life-giving force.


This dynamic group of asanas is not regarded as being a traditional part of hatha yoga practices as it was added to the original asana group at a later time. However, it is an effective way of loosening up, stretching, massaging and toning all the joints, muscles and internal organs of the body. Its versatility and application make it one of the most useful methods of inducing a healthy, vigorous and active life while, at the same time, preparing for Spiritual awakening and the resulting ex- pansion of Awareness.


Surya namaskara is a complete sadhana, Spiritual practice, in itself for it includes asana, pranayama, Mantra and meditation techniques. It is an excellent group of asanas with which to start morning practice. Surya namaskara has a direct vitalising effect on the solar energy of the body which flows through pingala nadi. Regular practice of surya namaskara regulates pingala nadi, whether it is under-active or over- active. Regulation of pingala nadi leads to a balanced energy system at both mental and physical levels.


Surya namaskara is composed of three elements: form, energy and rhythm. The twelve asanas are the physical matrix around which the form of the practice is woven. These asanas generate prana, the subtle energy which activates the psychic body. Their performance, in a steady, rhythmic sequence, reflects the rhythms of the universe; the twenty-four hours of the day, the twelve zodiac phases of the year and the biorhythms of the body. The application of this form and rhythm to the body/mind complex generates the transforming force which produces a fuller and more dynamic life.


Time of practice: The ideal time to practise surya namaskara is at sunrise, the most peaceful time of day. Whenever possible, practise in the open air, facing the rising sun. Sunset is also a good time to practise as it stimulates the digestive fire. Surya namaskara, however, may be practised at any  time provided the stomach is empty.


Surya means Sun and Namaskara means salutation. It is basically salutating the Sun through postures. Surya Namaskara is a series of 12 physical postures. These postures stretch various muscles and spinal column and give flexibility to the whole body.

Let us perform Surya Namaskara by following the steps given below:


Position 1:
Stand erect with feet together. Join the palms together in front of the chest in a namaskara mudra. Remain in this posture for a few seconds. Before commencing the practice, stand with the feet together or slightly apart, and the arms hanging loosely by the side of the body. Close the eyes gently and become aware of the whole physical body as one homogene- ous unit. In this position the body may sway from side  to side or backward and forward. Try to minimise this oscillation and balance the body weight equally on both feet.



Fig: 1

Bring the Awareness inside the body and mentally begin to relax it. Starting from the top of the head, take the Awareness systematically through all the parts, releasing any tension. Intensify, once more, the Awareness of the whole  physical body and feel in harmony with it.


Take the Awareness to the soles of the feet in contact with the floor. Feel that the whole body is being pulled downwards by gravity and that any tensions are being pulled down, through the body and into the ground. At the same time, experience the vital force surging up from the earth and flooding the whole being.


Finally, take the Awareness to the eyebrow centre and visu- alise a brilliant, red rising sun infusing the whole body and mind with its vitalising and healing rays. Imagine you are facing the early morning sunrise, about to practise surya namaskara with smooth synchronised movements, flowing into one another like a dance. 


Position 2: Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose) 

Raise and stretch both arms  above the  head. Keep the arms separated, shoulder width apart. Bend the head, arms and upper trunk backward. Inhaling, raise both arms above the head and slightly bend trunk backward. Remain in this posture for a few seconds.


Fig: 2

Breathing: Inhale while raising the arms.

Awareness: Physical - on the stretch of the abdomen and expansion of the lungs.

Spiritual - on vishuddhi chakra.

Mantra: Om Ravaye Namaha, salutations to the shining one.

Benefits: This pose stretches all the abdominal organs and improves digestion. It exercises the arm and shoulder muscles, tones the spinal nerves, opens the lungs and removes excess weight. 


Position 3: Padahastasana (hand to foot pose)

Bend forward until the fingers or palms of the  hands touch the floor on either side of the feet.

Try to touch the knees with the forehead. Do not strain.

Keep the knees straight.


Fig: 3

Breathing: Exhale while bending forward.

Try to contract the abdomen in the final position to expel the maximum amount of air from the lungs.

Awareness: Physical - on the pelvic region.

Spiritual - on swadhisthana chakra.

Mantra: Om Suryaya Namaha, salutations to he who induces activity.

Contra-indications: People with back conditions should not bend forward fully. Bend from the hips, keeping the spine straight, until the back forms a ninety degree angle with the legs, or bend only as far as comfortable.

Benefits: This pose is useful in eliminating or preventing stomach or abdominal ailments. It reduces excess weight in the abdominal region, improves digestion and helps to remove constipation. It improves blood circulation, makes the spine supple and tones the spinal nerves. 


Position 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose)

Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor beside the feet.

Stretch the right leg back as far as possible.

At the same time, bend the left knee, keeping the left foot on the floor in the same position. Keep the arms straight. In the final position, the weight of the body should be supported on both hands, the left foot, right knee  and  toes of the right foot. The head should be tilted backward, the back arched and the inner gaze  directed upward to  the eyebrow centre.


Fig: 4

Breathing: Inhale while stretching the right leg back.

Awareness: Physical - on the stretch from the thigh to  the  chest or on the eyebrow centre.

Spiritual - on ajna chakra.

Mantra: Om Bhanave Namaha, salutations to he who illumines. Benefits: This pose massages the abdominal organs and im- proves their functioning, strengthens the leg muscles and

induces balance in the nervous system.

Practice note: In the final pose the palms of the hands should be flat on the floor initially. Later on, more advanced practitioners may come up onto the fingertips.


Position 5: Parvatasana (mountain pose)

Take the left foot back beside the right foot.

Simultaneously, raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms, so that the back and legs form two sides of a triangle.

The legs and arms should be straight in the final position. Try to keep the heels on the floor in the final pose and bring the head towards the knees.

Do not strain.


Fig: 5

Breathing: Exhale while taking the left leg back.

Awareness: Physical - on relaxing the hips or on the throat region.

Spiritual - on vishuddhi chakra.

Mantra: Om Khagaya Namaha, salutations to he who moves quickly in the sky.

Benefits: This pose strengthens the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs. The spinal nerves are toned and circulation is stimulated especially in the upper spine, between the shoulder blades.


Position 6: Ashtanga Namaskara (salute with eight parts or points)

Lower the knees, chest and chin to the floor.

In the final position only the toes, knees, chest, hands and chin touch the floor. The knees, chest and chin should touch the floor simultaneously. If this is not possible, first lower the knees, then the chest, and finally the chin.

The buttocks, hips and abdomen should be raised.


Fig: 6

Breathing: The breath is held outside in this pose. There is no respiration.

Awareness: Physical - on the abdominal region.

Spiritual - on manipura chakra.

Mantra: Om Pushne Namaha, salutations to the giver of strength. Benefits: This pose strengthens the leg and arm muscles, develops the chest and exercises the region of the spine between the shoulder blades.


Position 7: Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

Lower the buttocks and hips to the floor,

Straightening the elbows, arch the back and push  the chest forward into the cobra pose. Bend the head back and direct the gaze upward to the eyebrow centre. The thighs and hips remain on the floor and the arms support the trunk. Unless the spine is very flexible the arms will remain slightly bent.


Fig: 7

Breathing: Inhale while raising the torso and arching the back.

Awareness: Physical - on relaxation of the spine.

Spiritual - on swadhisthana chakra.

Mantra: Om Hiranya Garbhaya Namaha, salutations to the golden, cosmic self.

Benefits: This pose keeps the spine supple, improving circu- lation in the back region and toning the spinal nerves. It tones the reproductive organs, stimulates digestion and relieves constipation. It also tones the liver and massages the kidneys and adrenal glands. 


Position 8: Parvatasana (mountain pose)

This stage is a repeat of Position 5.

From bhujangasana assume parvatasana.

The hands and feet do not move from Position 7. Raise the buttocks and lower the heels to the floor.


Fig: 8

Breathing: Exhale while raising the buttocks.

Awareness: Physical - on relaxing the hips or on the throat region.

Spiritual - on vishuddhi chakra.

Mantra: Om Marichaye Namaha, salutations to the Lord of the Dawn.


Position 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (equestrian pose)

This stage is the same as Position 4. Keep the palms flat on the floor.

Bend the left leg and bring the left foot forward between the hands.

Simultaneously, lower the right knee so that it touches the floor and push the pelvis forward.

Tilt the head backward, arch the back and gaze at the eyebrow centre.


Fig: 9

Breathing: Inhale while assuming the pose.

Awareness: Physical - on the stretch from the thigh to  the chest, or on the eyebrow centre.

Spiritual - on ajna chakra.

Mantra: Om Adityaya Namaha, salutations to the son of Aditi, the cosmic Mother.


Position 10: Padahastasana (hand to foot pose)

This position is a repeat of position 3.

Bring the right foot forward next to the left foot. Straighten both knees.

Bring the forehead as close to the knees as possible without straining.


Fig: 10

Breathing: Exhale while performing the movement.

Awareness: Physical - on the pelvic region.

Spiritual - on swadhisthana chakra.

Mantra: Om Savitre Namaha, salutations to Lord of Creation. 


Position 11: Hasta Utthanasana (raised arms pose)

This stage is a repeat of position 2.

Raise the torso and stretch the arms above the head. Keep the arms separated, shoulder width apart.

Bend the head, arms and upper trunk backward.


Fig: 11

Breathing: Inhale while straightening the body.

Awareness: Physical - on the stretch of the abdomen and expansion of the lungs.

Spiritual - on vishuddhi chakra.

Mantra: Om Arkaya Namaha, salutations to he who is fit to be praised.


Position 12: Pranamasana (prayer pose)

This is the final position and is the same as position 1. Bring the palms together in front of the chest.


Fig: 12

Breathing: Exhale while assuming the final position.

Awareness: Physical - on the region of the heart.

Spiritual - on anahata chakra.

Mantra: Om Bhaskaraya Namaha, salutations to he who leads to enlightenment.


Positions 13-24: The twelve positions of surya namaskara are practised twice to complete one round. Positions 1 to 12 constitute half a round. In the second half,  the positions are repeated with two small changes:

a) In position 16, instead of stretching the right foot backward, stretch the left foot back.

b) In position 21, bend the right leg and bring the right foot between the hands.


Conclusion: On the completion of  each  half  round,  lower the arms to the side, relax  the body  and concentrate on the breath until it returns to normal. After completing surya namaskara, practise shavasana for a few minutes. This will allow the heartbeat and respiration to return to normal and all the muscles to relax.


Practice note: In reference to Position 4: when practising surya namaskara for general or therapeutic purposes, begin by placing the right leg back to activate pingala nadi as described above; if practising  for  mental  concentradon or for a more meditadonal effect, begin with the left leg which will activate ida nadi.


Beeja Mantras: As an alternative to the twelve names of  the sun, there is a series of beeja Mantras or seed syllables. Beeja Mantras do not have any literal meaning but set up powerful vibrations of energy within the mind and body. The beeja Mantras are six in number and are repeated consecutively in the following order, four times during a complete round of surya namaskara:

1.    Om Hraam    4.  Om Hraim

2.    Om Hreem    5.  Om Hraum

3.    Om Hroom    6.  Om Hrah

When surya namaskara is practised too fast to repeat the sun Mantras, the beeja Mantras may be used.


Duration: For Spiritual Benefits, practise 3 to 12 rounds slowly. For physical Benefits, practise 3 to 12 rounds more quickly. Beginners should start with 2 or 3 rounds and add one more round every few weeks to avoid fatigue. Advanced students may practise a larger number of rounds, however, strain should be avoided at all times. In special cases, a daily practice of 108 rounds may be undertaken for purification, but only under expert guidance.


Sequence: Surya namaskara is ideally practised before other asanas.



1) The practice of surya namaskara  should be immediately discontinued if a fever, acute inflammation, boils or rashes occur. These may develop due to excess toxins in the body. When the toxins have been eliminated, the practice may be resumed.

2) Surya namaskara should not be practised by people suffering from high blood pressure, coronary artery diseases, or by those who have had a stroke, as it may over stimulate or damage a weak heart or blood vessel  system. It should also be avoided in cases of hernia or intestinal tuberculosis.

3) People with back conditions should consult a medical expert before commencing this practice. Although some back conditions may be alleviated by this practice, conditions such as slipped disc and sciatica will be better managed through an alternative asana programme.

4) During the onset of menstruation, this practice should be avoided. If there are no adverse effects, the practice may  be resumed after the initial flow or towards the end of the period. During pregnancy it may be practised with care until the beginning of the twelfth week. Following child- birth, it may be commenced approximately forty  days after delivery for re-toning the uterine muscles.


Remember the following points:







Do not practice


Breathing with the


beyond your


movements of the





The person having

Inhale during upward


spinal cord injury


bending and exhale


should not practise


during forward


surya namaskara.






General Benefits: The practice of surya namaskara as a whole gives a great number of Benefits.

1) It stimulates and balances all the systems of the body, including the endocrine, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems. 

2) Its influence on  the pineal gland and the hypothalamus helps to prevent pineal degeneration and calcification. This balances the transition period between childhood and adolescence in growing children. Synchronising the breath with the physical movements of surya namaskara ensures that the practitioner,  at least for a few minutes daily, breathes as deeply and rhythmically  as possible. 

3) This removes carbon dioxide from the lungs and replaces it with fresh oxygen, increasing mental clarity by bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain.

4) To conclude, surya namaskara is the ideal practice to increase Awareness and best of good health and wellbeing.

More Benefits


  • It helps to increase strength, endurance and flexibility.
• It improves concentration.
• It removes excess fat.
• It gives energy to the body.
• It helps in increasing the height of growing children and tones up their body.
• It warms up the body.
• It improves blood circulation all over the body.
• It provides flexibility to the whole body.


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