Your Guide to Surya Namaskar aka the Sun Salutation

sun salutation
Image credits: Tabitha Turner via Unsplash

If you’ve ever tried Sun Salutation, then you know that it’s an excellent way to start and end your day. Not only is it a toning, stretching and lengthening exercise, but there are 108 Sun Salutations to strive for. As yoga is a sacred practice, it also offers healing benefits to your body, mind and spirit.

Sun Salutation Yoga

Sun Salutation is a complete Sadhana and offers a continuous flow of movement and Pranayama (breath). Meaning these meditative techniques can be a complete practice by itself. The root words for the pose, सूर्यनमस्कार, are from Sanskrit root words Surya (Sun), Namah (to pray), Kara (hand) and Asana (pose).

If you’re thinking about doing salutations for the first time you will find that Sun Salutation yoga is a great way to start your day or end it. When you start Surya Namaskar as a beginner, you want to face the sun which rises in the east. This practice can help to increase your blood flow. It can loosen up the limbs and your poses can prepare you or warm you up for the different asana practices that you’re going to do in your routine.

Using a Sun Salutation pose can also help you to prepare the body for other poses. You can energize your body and open up the 7 Chakras. This kind of yoga is a good way to remove blockages from your energy level and increase vital energy that goes to the prana in the body. It’s an excellent cardiovascular workout that increases the heart rate and circulatory system and benefits the entire body. Receive fresh levels of oxygen with your salutations and drink extra water after you complete this pose because you are releasing toxins.

Sun salutation is important because it’s a workout that includes the entire body. You’re also working on several muscle groups. Sun Salutation is also used for weight loss and is an excellent exercise because it can help to reduce the physical ailments in your body. Doing this asana can lead to increased energy and a more balanced state of being. Sun Salutation can help you reduce the stress in the body.

Benefits of the Salutations

Perhaps you have heard of a Sun Salutation? One of the best ways to start a yoga routine or start your day is to include it in the morning. It’s also fine to do one in the evening but most of the benefits of Sun Salutations are experienced in the early morning. When you consider the many benefits of doing the sequence, from increasing Vitamin D to improving mood and mental clarity, this asana has several benefits.

​The benefits of Surya Namaskar include providing you with refreshing energy and opening your Chakras. But don’t discount the benefits of the salutations at night as you can use these poses to help you cool down as you close your day. Not only does it offer meditative and healing benefits but it can open your Chakras.

Another benefit is that you can receive vitamin D which is generated and your body receives sunlight in the morning. Hence when you perform yoga you can receive these benefits early in the morning. Practice your breathing and chant your mantras to receive the oxygen that your body needs. With your body energized, you’re opening the Chakras and connecting to your inner core strength.

Additionally, performing Sun Salutation can strengthen your mind and increase your flexibility. Distributing the prana flow that extends throughout the system, there are several different variations of Sun Salutation. How many are there? To be exact, there are 108 different ways to do Sun Salutation. With so many poses, you don’t have to try to achieve them all.

Doing Sun Salutations

Start with only a few rounds of the salutation. Sometimes new students will start with Sun Salutation for 2-4 rounds. Once you become more advanced with it, you may want to progress to 12 rounds. However, the most experienced yogis and yoginis will strive for the 108 Sun Salutation poses.

With the salutation, there are about 12 different poses that are linked to flexing the muscles, strengthening them and extending the limbs and the body. While there are so many different variations, you may want to focus specifically on the ones that target certain muscle groups like the hip flexors.

Consider strengthening and stretching the lumbar vertebrae in the spine with the lunge salute. This can stretch the muscles in the inner thighs and abdomen. A Sun Salutation lunge salute is also beneficial for strengthening your core. The abdominal stretch during a salutation can stimulate the liver meridians, spleen and stomach. You’ll also find that it can help to aid in digestion.

Sun Salutation for Beginners and Advanced Yogis and Yoginis

With Surya Namaskar, there are 108 Sun Salutations. Ultimately, you don’t have to strive to do all of them, although some yoginis and yogis do. As a beginner, start with a few rounds of Surya Namaskar and build your way up. Each asana can count as 2 rounds because you do one round on the left leg and one round on the right leg. But, what if your goal is to strive for 108 Sun Salutations? Building up to 108 Sun Salutations does take time but it’s also a transformative experience and one that you may want to strive for at some point.

Sun Salutation is considered a type of aerobic workout because you can sync your breathing to the postures. Hence, it moves at a very fast pace but going at a slow pace is sometimes a good option. Perhaps you want to concentrate on your breathing and stretching routine.

Depending on the poses that you include with Surya Namaskar there are different types of sun salutation sequences that you may want to follow and different variations. Talk to an experienced yoga instructor about different ways to change the flow and how to incorporate modifications.

Achieving Spiritual Completion with Sun Salutations

Sun Salutation is a sacred yoga practice and it’s repeated 108 different times in a row because this enhances spiritual and physical well-being. 108 signifies spiritual completion. It’s also an area with a cosmic interpretation where you will find that the digits line up with the sun and the earth because 108 is the number of many values.

In exploring the 108 Sun Salutations further, look at the different types of religions, cultures and traditions and delve into the source. In the body, for example, there are 108 sacred points. Numerology also considers 108 significant as these numbers represent awakening, eternity and universal love.

Surya Namaskar increases energy levels, detoxifies the abdominal organs and increases the flow of prana through different energy channels. Pent-up emotions are also released while practicing the salutations. With a boost to your mental and physical stamina, this asana can also increase your strength.

Tips To Help With Sun Salutations

If you’re thinking about doing Sun Salutations, a few tips can help. Consider setting up a timer to help you gauge how long it will take you to do one complete round of sun salutations. Remember, it’s one on the left side and one on the right side which makes up a set. Some people, for example, estimate about 40 seconds to complete 12 different poses of Sun Salutations in their first round.

As you do your Sun Salutations, focus on routinely inhaling and exhaling to give extra energy to your body. Pay attention to your body and how you move. If you need to rest, take a break, especially if you’re doing all 108 sun salutations. If you feel fatigued or dizzy you can stop or slow down and replace one Sun Salutation with Downward Dog Pose. Then, go into a Child’s Pose and rest for a few breaths.

Why They Are So Good For You

When you start a Sun Salutation sequence, especially as a beginner or someone new to yoga, you may question whether or not it is are good for you. They are a very good way to stretch the body, reduce stress and increase energy. However, before you start a morning or evening routine, only perform when you have an empty stomach. In the morning you would do your salutations preferably before 6:00 am.

As the sun rises in the east, you may want to turn in that direction when you start to do your salutation sequence. You want your stomach empty as you are exercising and stretching the abdominal muscles and organs. Another area to focus on with Sun Salutations is your proper breathing techniques as you work on the different poses. Remember that in the morning the air is full of life energy which is also called prana. There are powerful ultraviolet rays that can block skin and bone problems.

Tips on Doing Sun Salutations Daily

Do you want to know how to do Surya Namaskar? Surya Namaskar poses can be done every day. Some yogis and yoginis practice their pose in the evening and they may do it before 6:00 pm (before the sun goes down). Similar to your morning routine, try to do your evening salutations on an empty stomach when there’s no food in your belly. Hence, you might want to stop eating after lunch or about 5-hours with an empty stomach.

Avoid practicing Surya Namaskar yoga immediately after you eat. It’s better to have an empty stomach because a lot of the different yoga positions can trigger the abdominal organs and lead to bowel movements.

Are you new to yoga and interested in how to do a Sun Salutation? Or are you looking for a way to do it for beginners? When you start a Sun Salutation flow, you are stimulating and warming up the body. However, with Moon Salutation, that’s completely different. Students use this pose as a way to meditate and cool down the body when you’re ready to close out the day. Factor in that if you do ones that are rapid, you’re taking in energy. Hence, your steps/methods are an important way to start your day. However, with Moon Salutations, the moves are slower and less frequent because you’re closing out the day and want your body to be receptive to meditation and the cooling down.

FAQs

What is the purpose of sun salutations?

Sun Salutations can help you start your day if you do them in the morning. They’re also done at night before sunset. As a complete Sadhana, it helps you achieve a continuous flow of movement and breath Pranayama. This particular asana can increase your Vitamin D level and improve mental clarity and mood. Offering healing and meditative benefits, use this asana to open the Chakras, strengthen your mind and improve your flexibility.

How many times should you do sun salutation?

There are 108 different Sun Salutations. However, beginners may want to start with a few rounds. Each asana counts as 2 rounds. You’re doing one round on the left leg and one on the right. Some yogis and yoginis build up to 108 Sun Salutations over time, so pace yourself as you work on mental endurance.

What is a sun salutation in yoga?

Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar is a way to stretch when the sun is rising. It can increase your blood flow, open the muscles and prepare you for other asana in your routine.

Are sun salutations good for you?

They’re an excellent way to begin your day, stretch the body and increase your energy level. Because the morning sun and air are full of life energy or prana, it’s a chance to take in nature’s ultraviolet rays that can prevent skin and bone damage. You’re also getting a good dose of Vitamin D and energizing the body.

Can I do sun salutations every day?

Yes, you can do it every day in the morning and evening. However, do them on an empty stomach as the different yoga positions can trigger the abdominal organs and lead to bowel movements.