Unlock Your Potential with Sun Salutation: Yoga for Busy Bees

If you are one of those who hardly get time for a workout amidst your busy routine; Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) comes as a great tool to keep your body in perfect shape and balance. This cardiovascular exercise is a series of 12 body postures in one cycle and has a great combination of forward-backward bending & stretching postures, which provides strength and flexibility to the whole body.

Each posture has its own mantra, which is dedicated to different names of the Sun-the vital source of life energy on our planet.

Also one needs to be aware of the particular breath position associated with each posture.

To receive maximum benefits from Sun Salutation, one should perform these postures with full awareness, correct breath positions and chant the related mantra (as a salute to the Sun).

How to Do Sun Salutation

Before we discuss each posture in detail one should follow certain guidelines for performing this Yoga.

  • The ideal time and place to perform Sun Salutation are to do it in front of the rising sun. If that is not feasible then one may perform it in the morning, in a clean and airy room, with a face towards the east direction.
  • Do it on an empty stomach or at least 4-5 hours after having food.
  • Wear loose clothes. None of your body parts should feel tight due to clothes while bending or stretching
  • Use a Yoga mat to prevent slipping of hands and feet while performing the postures
  • Try to spend 5 seconds in each posture so that the complete cycle of 12 postures can be completed in 1 minute

Posture 1- Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Stand erect keeping your feet together and face towards the east direction with your hands folded in a prayer position (see Figure 1.0).

Prayer Pose - Sun Salutation

Take a few normal breaths and exhale just before doing posture 2.

Chanting mantras while performing these poses is optional but is advised to do to receive maximum benefits.

Mantra for this posture is “Om Mitraaya Namah” (  मित्राय  नमः).

Posture 2- Hasta Uttanasana (Raised arms pose)

As you exhale in the last posture, now start inhaling the breath and gradually raise your hands up (with hands still folded) and bend towards your back as far as your body permits. See Figure 2.0.

Raised arms pose - Sun Salutation

The mantra for this posture is “Om Ravaye Namah” (ॐ  रवये  नमः).

Posture 3- Hasta Paadasana (Hand to foot pose)

Now while exhaling, slowly start bending towards your front so that your hands touch the feet (Do not let not your knees bend). Do not worry if your hands do not reach your feet in the beginning, it will as you practice more. And if they reach comfortably, try to touch the ground and place your palms facing down beside each foot. See Figure 3.0

Hand to foot pose - Sun Salutation

Mantra for this posture is “Om Suryaaya Namah” (  सूर्याय  नमः).

Posture 4- Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)

Place both your hands firmly on the ground beside each foot and while inhaling perform below things simultaneously-

  • Stretch your left leg back as far as you can and position it in such a way that your toe and knees touch the ground.
  • Stretch your head upwards looking in the sky, with your spine bent backward, and while palms touching the ground straighten your arms

See Figure 4.0 for the exact posture.

Equestrian pose - Sun Salutation

The mantra for this posture is “Om Bhaanave Namah” (  भानवे  नमः).

Posture 5- Parvatasana (Mountain posture)

Now while exhaling, perform the below steps simultaneously –

  • Slowly bring your right leg backward as well and place it parallel to the left leg and place both feet firmly touching the ground
  • Bring your hips up as high as you can and place your head between the arms looking at the knees. Your body shape will become like a mountain, an inverted “V” position. See Figure 5.0
Mountain posture - Sun Salutation

The mantra for this posture is “Om Khagaaya Namah” (  खगय   नमः).

Posture 6- Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts)

As you have exhaled fully during posture 5, in this posture you need to keep your breath in a suspended position (no inhalation, no exhalation).

Now keeping your hands and feet in the same place, lower your hips from the mountain pose to the position as shown in figure 6.0.

Salute with eight parts pose - Sun Salutation

In this posture, eight parts of your body touch the ground; forehead, chest, palms, knees, and toes.    

Mantra for this posture is “Om Pushne Namah” (  पुष्णे  नमः).

Posture 7- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

In this posture, start inhaling while raising your head & neck up looking at the sky, and straighten your arms so that your chest is raised and your spine is bent backward. Stretch your toes outwards so that the lower part of the foot (sole) is facing upwards. See Figure 7.0

Cobra pose - Sun Salutation

Mantra for this posture is “Om Hiranyagarbhaaya Namah” (  हिरण्यगर्भाय   नमः).

Posture 8 - Parvatasana (Mountain posture)

This posture is the same as posture 5. While exhaling, repeat posture 5. See Figure 8.0 or 5.0

Mountain pose - Sun Salutation

Mantra for this posture is “Om Mareechaye Namah” (  मारीचाये  नमः).

Posture 9 - Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)

While inhaling, bring your left foot to the front and repeat posture 4. See Figure 9.0

Equestrian pose - Sun Salutation

Mantra for this posture is “Om Aadityaaya Namah” (  आदित्याय  नमः).

Posture 10 - Hasta Paadasana (Hand to foot pose)

Now while exhaling, bring your right leg to the front as well and place it beside your left leg. This posture is the same as posture 3. See Figure 10.0 or 3.0

Hand to foot pose - Sun Salutation

Mantra for this posture is “Om Savitre Namah” (  सावित्रे   नमः).

Posture 11 - Hasta Uttanasana (Raised arms pose)

Now while inhaling, perform posture 2. This posture is the same as posture 2. See Figure 11.0 or 2.0

Raised arms pose - Sun Salutation

Mantra for this posture is “Om Arkaaya Namah” (  आर्काय  नमः).

Posture 12 Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Now while exhaling, perform posture 1. This posture is the same as posture 1. See Figure 12.0 or 1.0

Prayer pose - Sun Salutation

Mantra for this posture is “Om Bhaaskaraaya Namah” (  भास्कराय  नमः).

This completes one cycle of Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar). Now repeat the postures from 1 to 12 to do more cycles.

Benefits of Sun Salutation

  1. Whole body Exercise - Doing a complete cycle of Surya Namaskar has a positive effect on the complete body starting from head to toe. Alternate bending and stretching postures provide flexibility & strength to the spinal cord. If performed consistently, this Yoga helps in balancing the hormonal secretion of endocrine glands, which is important for normal body growth and prevents various diseases. This Yoga is also useful in losing weight.
  • Quick - One complete cycle of Surya Namaskara (12 postures) takes around 1 minute. One may start from 5-10 rounds in the beginning and then gradually go up to 30 cycles in a month’s time. This means that it will take not more than 5-10 minutes for beginners and not more than 30 minutes even later on. After a month once you feel comfortable and if time permits one may gradually increase the cycles up to 100.

3. Deep & Rhythmic Breath - 12 postures in one cycle of Surya Namskara involves prolonged inhalation, exhalation, and suspension of breath, which helps in restoring our deep and rhythmic breathing pattern. Usually, most of us are habitual of taking shallow breaths which is not good for our health as it reduces the amount of oxygen taken into the body through breath. See the side effects of shallow breathing.

4.  Marma Points Tonification - Regular practice of Surya Namaskar helps in tonification of Marma points. These points are sensitive & subtle energy points that are present at the vital junctions inside our body. Tonification of these points has a positive impact on mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional levels.

Sun Salutation Yoga (Surya Namaskar) Mantras:

PosturePosture NameMantra to ChantBreath Position
1Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)Om Mitraaya Namah (  मित्राय  नमः)Exhale
2Hasta Uttanasana (Raised arms pose)Om Ravaye Namah (  रवये  नमः)Inhale
3Hasta Paadasana (Hand to foot pose)Om Suryaaya Namah (  सूर्याय  नमः)Exhale
4Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)Om Bhaanave Namah (  भानवे  नमः) Inhale
5Parvatasana (Mountain posture)Om Khagaaya Namah (  खगय   नमः) Exhale
6Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts)Om Pushne Namah (  पुष्णे  नमः)Suspend
7Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)Om Hiranyagarbhaaya Namah (   हिरण्यगर्भाय  नमः) Inhale
8Parvatasana (Mountain posture)Om Mareechaye Namah (  मारीचाये  नमः) Exhale
9Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)Om Aadityaaya Namah (  आदित्याय  नमः) Inhale
10Hasta Paadasana (Hand to foot pose)Om Savitre Namah (  सावित्रे   नमः)Exhale
11Hasta Uttanasana (Raised arms pose)Om Arkaaya Namah (  आर्काय  नमः) Inhale
12Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)Om Bhaaskaraaya Namah (  भास्कराय  नमः)Exhale

When NOT to do:

  • People suffering from high blood pressure, heart problems, any bone or muscle-related problems like slip-disk, spinal injury, arthritis, osteoporosis, hernia, etc. should take medical advice before performing this Yoga
  • Women should not practice Sun Salutation during pregnancy and menses

Disclaimer: This Yoga should be treated as a complementary practice and should not be considered a replacement for any ongoing medical treatment. In case of any doubt, one may take medical advice before performing this yoga.

The author has written this article due to his deep interest in Yoga & Meditation practices and has tried to be as informative as possible. All efforts have been made to retain the originality of this information. But still, if any piece is omitted or reported incorrectly, please feel free to comment on this post.  

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