Vishwa-Surya Namaskar (Universal Sun Salutation)

Surya-namaskar (Sun Salutation)

School of Yoga explains Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation)

Since the advent of consciousness, man has always recognised the role of the Sun in his life.

So, early man attributed all life to the energy of the Sun. In fact, in India the qualities of the Sun were aggregated into a deity called Savita.

Savita was also the Deity of rta or excellence in Sanskrit. Interestingly, Rta is a cognate of Asa in Persian and Arête (perfection in Greek). Also, daily prayers were called Sandhyavandana (worship of Sun’s transition) and the exercise was called Suryanamaskar (Sun salutation). Additionally, a very important Vedic prayer was Aditya Hridayam (Heart of the Sun), which was supposed to infuse valour and remove fear.

Many temples in India, such as one at Konarak and Suryanar Koil venerate the Sun. Also, there’s one in Multan, Pakistan. Additionally, there’s a temple in Beijing, Mayan Sun temples in Palenque (South Mexico) and El Zotz (Guatemala) and multiple temples in Japan built to the Sun Godess, Amaterasu and in Egypt, built to Ra, the Sun God.

Furthermore, in India there are two festivals associated with the Sun (Makar Shankranthi/ Pongal) associated with Uttarayan or movement North and Karka Shankranti with Dakshinayan or movement South and Ratha Sapthami when the Sun is supposed to turn his Chariot North.

Undoubtedly, human existence and culture has been inextricably linked to the Sun. Indeed, many cultures of the old world, such as Iran, India and Far East start their New Year when the Sun enters Aries. 

Finally, the kriya associated with the Sun is called Surya-Namaskar (Sun Salutation). Furthermore, it is a 12 step process, comprising namaskarasana, hastottanasana, padahastasana, ashwa-sanchalanasana, chaturanga-dandasana, adho-mukha-shvanasana, ashtanga-namaskara, bhujangasana, ashwa-sanchalanasana, padahastasana, hastottanasana and namaskarasana.

However, School of Yoga has inserted balasana after bhujangasana to reverse the spinal pressure of bhujangasana and make this kriya a more effective one. This has been renamed as Vishwa-Suryanamaskar or Universal Sun Salutation

But, when performing balasana during the kriya could lead to knee pain. Hence, it is recommended that in a cycle of 12 Surya Namaskars, include balasana in the last 2 rounds only.

Suryanamskar Chart

School of Yoga explains: Vishwa Suryanamaskar Technique:

A cycle of Suryanamaskar consists of 12 independent positions.

Position 1: Namaskarasana (Namaskar pose).

  • Stand upright, facing the Sun. Next, place hands at the chest in anjali mudra.
  • Breathe evenly.
  • Let drishti (focus) be on the anahata chakra or center of the chest.
  • Remember, breathe in through the nose.

Benefits: This brings balance in posture, calmness in the mind, relaxation in the spine and evenness in the breath (removes agitation in the breath).

Position 2: Hastottanasana (Hands stretching pose).

  • Breathing out, straighten and stretch torso backwards with hands over the head as far as possible.
  • Hold for 2 counts.
  • Breathe in and straighten the body. Keep hands up.
  • Let drishti be at the tip of the thumb (angushtamadhye).

Benefits: This posture stretches the spine, infuses blood to the cerebro-spinal system.

Position 3: Padahastasana (Feet to hands pose).

  • Breathing out, bend torso forward at the waist so that hands rest near to the feet.
  • However, in case of difficulty, bend knees slightly and bring hands to the ground.
  • Push the head as close to the knees as possible. Try and keep legs straight.
  • Let drishti be at oordva drishti (open space gaze).
  • Hold for 2 counts.

Benefits: The movement forward presses the abdominal viscera, helping to reduce adipose which assists weight reduction. Also, there is also infusion of blood to the abdominal organs, which improves their health and functioning. Lastly, forward bending also compensates for the previous reverse stretch, thus increasing blood supply to the cerebro-spinal system.

Position 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Horse parading Pose).

  • Breathe in, using hands to take the weight of the body, stretch one leg back as far as possible in a sliding motion without leaving the floor. This is to ensure that balance is not lost.
  • Stretch the leg so that the thigh of the other leg presses the chest.
  • Breathe out as you stretch the torso and neck backwards. Hold for 3 counts
  • Let drishti be at oordva drishti (open space gaze).

Benefits: The stretching action is very good for overall health of the musculo-skeletal system. Also, this increases strength and flexibility of the hip, pelvic area, knees and shoulders.

Position 5: Chaturanga dandasana (Four-point stick pose).

  • Breathe in and balancing the body on 2 hands, slide the other foot backwards to join both feet. Keep legs together.
  • Let the body be straight as a stick. Rest entire load of the torso on the hands.
  • Let drishti be oordva drishti (open space gaze). Hold for 3 counts.

Benefits: The holding of position strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps in reduction of weight. Also, the straight and stiff posture increases strength of teh back and abdominal muscles.

Position 6: Adhomukha shwanasana (Downward facing dog pose).

  • Breathing out, shift weight of the body from hands to legs by moving buttocks up and back.
  • Push hands and legs until hamstrings are stretched. Keep legs together.
  • Let drishti be oordva drishti (open space gaze). Hold for 3 counts.

Benefits: The movement of the body backwards helps in maintenance of balance, strength and flexibility of the thighs, hamstrings and ankles.

Position 7: Astanga Namaskara (8-point Namasker).

  • Breathe in, and balancing body weight equally between hands and legs, come to chaturanga dandasana, then slowly sink to the floor using hands to take the weight of the torso.
  • Let drishti be at oordva drishti (open space gaze)

Benefits: No major benefit. In fact, this is an interim asana.

Position 8: Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose).

  • Breathing out, stretch torso and head up and back smoothly.
  • Let legs and hips rest on the ground together.
  • Breathing in, bring the torso towards the ground and smoothly enter balasana.
  • Let drishti be oordva drishti (open space gaze).
  • Hold for 3 counts.

Benefits: The stretching action is very good for overall health of the health of the back, shoulders and neck muscles.

Position 9: Balasana (Baby pose).

  • Breathing out, draw torso back and fold body like an accordion at the knees and hips.
  • Bring the head come close to the ground and hands stretched as far forward as possible
  • Let drishti be oordva drishti (open space gaze).
  • Hold for 3 counts.

Benefits: The movement presses the abdominal viscera, helping to reduce adipose which assists weight reduction. Also, there is also infusion of blood to the abdominal organs, which improves their health and functioning.

Additionally, the forward stretching relieves the stresses of previous stretching actions, thus increasing the health of the cerebro-spinal system.

Position 10: Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Horse Parading Pose).

  • Breathe in, using hands to take weight of the body, slide one leg forward between the hands along the floor.
  • Stretch the leg so that thigh of the other leg presses the chest.
  • Breathe out as you stretch the torso and neck backwards.
  • Hold for 3 counts
  • Let drishti be at oordva drishti (open space gaze)

Benefits: The stretching action is very good for overall health of the musculo-skeletal system.

Position 11: Padahastasana (Foot to hand asana).

  • Breathe in, slide the other leg forward to meet first leg between the hands.
  • Breathing out, straighten legs while keeping hands on the floor
  • Let drishti be at the tip of your finger (angushtamadhye)

Benefits: The movement forward presses the abdominal viscera, helping to reduce adipose which assists weight reduction. Also, there is also infusion of blood to the abdominal organs, which improves their health and functioning. Finally, the forward bending also compensates for the previous stretch, thus increasing blood supply to the cerebro-spinal system.

Position 12: Hastottanasana (Hands stretching pose).

  • Breathe in, straighten the body.
  • Breathing out, stretch torso backwards with hand over the head as far as possible.
  • Breathe in and straighten body.
  • Come to namaskarasana.
  • Let drishti be at the tip of the thumb (angushtamadhya).

Benefits: This posture stretches the spine, infuses blood to the cerebro-spinal system. Also, namaskarasana brings balance in posture, calmness in the mind, relaxation in the spine and evenness in the breath (removes agitation in the breath).

School of Yoga explains – Suryanamaskar Benefits:

  • First, the stretching, counter stretching and forward stretching action energises and strengthens the muscles of the back with increased blood supply and makes them supple, elastic and flexible.
  • Second, the spinal chord and cartilages get rejuvenated for the same reason. So, this exercise is very good for strengthening the back, retaining the arch of the spine and preventing backache.
  • Third, the flushing of the back with blood also tones up the sympathetic nervous system.
  • Four, compression of the abdominal viscera assists in reducing adipose around the abdomen. Also, the pressing action increases intra-abdominal pressure, therefore is useful in all digestive ailments.
  • Finally, the breathing routine increases stamina and lung functioning.

School of Yoga explains – Suryanamaskar contraindications:

  • Importantly, if one experiences any back ache, stop! Remember, never push to the point where there is discomfort. Also, when pain or discomfort starts, stop immediately. Undoubtedly, over time and with practice, the back will begin to flex without pain.
  • Particularly, those with cervical spondylosis should be careful when doing this kriya. Also, even though surya namaskar is good for strengthening the back, people with any form of spondylosis should consult a doctor before starting.
  • Additionally, the introduction of balasana in position 9 is done with the intention of counteracting the pressure of bhujangasana. However, during the kriya, practitioners may experience knee pain due to active folding of the knees. Hence, it is recommended that in a cycle of 12 Suryanamaskars, the practitioner introduces balasana only in the last 2 rounds, thereby preventing knee injury.
  • Lastly, practitioners suffering from heart, kidney ailments, vertigo and other ailments or those recovering from surgery must do the Suryanamaskar only under advice of their doctors.

Some noteworthy points when performing Suryanamaskar:

  • Firstly, suryanamaskar is a kriya (action exercise), not an asana (static pose).
  • Secondly, as far as possible, this kriya should be performed in an open area at dawn or dusk to catch the morning or evening rays of the Sun and benefit from the oxygen rich air. However, this is not a constraint. Practitioners may practice anywhere if the above option is not available.
  • Thirdly, try to follow the breathing as far as possible. This will increase staminal and pulmonary function.
  • Moreover, the logic for breathing during movement is simple; whenever the spine is stretched, the person should breath out to ensure reduced resistance of the abdominal viscera, free movement of the spine and to prevent stomach cramps.
  • Also, try to practice on an empty stomach or at least 2 hours after solid and 30 minutes after liquid food to reduce resistance to movement, ensure optimum blood flow to all organs and stomach cramps.
Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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thank you very much very nice explaination about one one step also thank u

how many times this has to be repeat this 12 step yoga.

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