Surya Namaskar: The 12 Step Sun Salutation Yoga Sequence
A Well Rounded Yoga Exercise Sequence
Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation is a 12 step sequence of Hatha Yoga Asanas often performed as a warm up exercise before a Yoga session. Each of the 12 poses performed in a rhythmic sequence brings a different vertebral movement to the spinal column. The positions are tuned to the inhalation or exhalation of each breath and improves circulation, stretches the body making it limber and also strengthens it. A full round of Surya namaskara consists of two sets of the twelve poses starting alternating with starting the starting leg through the series. In some sessions, 12 Surya Namaskaras are performed at one practice. However, if you’re new to Yoga and just starting the practice for the first time, it is generally started with 3 to 6 Namaskaras per day and gradually increased to 12 Namaskaras.
Here’s a Step by Step on How to do Surya Namaskar: all you need is a Yoga Mat and you are good to go:
Step 1: Pranamasana (prayer pose)- Stand erect with your chest out, feet together, knees pulled up and thighs tight like in Tadasana. Bring your hands forward, in front of your chest as if in prayer, elbows straight and not drooping.
Step 2: Hasta Uttanasana (raised arms pose)- On inhale, stretch your arms up over your head, palms still together. Then arching back as far as you can go, stretch with your arms apart for next pose.
Step 3: Uttanasana (standing forward bend pose)- While exhaling, swing down from the hips keeping your upper body and torso straight.Without bending the knees place your hands on either sides of your feet flat on the mat, head as close to your knees as possible.
Step 4: Aekpaadprasarnaasana (equestrian pose)- Inhale bring the right foot to the back of the mat on the toes like a lunge. Using your finger tips for support and the left leg at a right angle start bending the extended leg at the knee towards the floor and look up.
Step 5: Dandasana (plank pose) - Retain your breath and extend your left leg back on your toes side by side your right without moving the position of your hands and leg at all. Palms flat on the mat, keep your spine straight and elbows locked. Do not let your head or hips drop. It should look like you are about to do a push up.
Step 6: Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with 8 limbs pose)- Exhale, bending your elbows towards your body and going down as low as you can at the shoulders while keeping the rest of your body perfectly stiff exactly like a push up. Once down near the floor, bend and drop your knees, chest and forehead to the ground lightly touching in that order. Your hips and pelvic should still be raised. Eight points should be touching the floor in this step- forehead, chest, and two palms, both knees and both feet.
Step 7: Bhujangasana (cobra pose)- Inhale, while swinging your body forwards, straightening your arms, stretching your shoulders upwards and lowering your hips down to the ground. Lift your chest upward and arch your back and look up towards the ceiling.
Step 8: Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog pose)- Exhale and without moving your hands and feet, tuck your toes and raise your hips and backside up. Elongate the spine and straighten the knees, spreading the fingers evenly push down from your forearms and try to put your heels down to the ground pushing back the thighs. Let your head hang and try lowering your shoulder blades to broaden the collarbone.
Step 9: Aekpaadprasarnaasana (equestrian pose) - Lunge forward while inhaling and bring your right leg in between your hands repeating the position in Step: 4
Step 10: Uttanasana (standing forward bend pose)- On exhale, bring the left foot forward next to the right and forward bend into Uttanasana (Step:3).
Step 11: Hasta Uttanasana (raised arms pose)- Straighten the back and raise your arms above your head, palms joined and repeat Step:2
Step 12: Pranamasana (prayer pose)- Lower your hands in down to your chest as in Step:1.