International Yoga School – Yoga Teacher Trainings and Sound Healing, Rishikesh

What is Surya Namaskar? Your Guide to Sun Salutations.

Surya Namaskar: A Salute to the Sun

Surya Namaskar: A Salute to the Sun

A Tribute to the Sun God

Surya Namaskar is steeped in ancient Indian tradition. The sun, revered as the life-giving force Surya , is honoured through this practice. Each movement represents the sun's journey across the sky, from rising to setting. It's a way to express gratitude for the sun's warmth, light, and the energy that sustains all living beings.

A Dance of Body and Breath

The twelve asanas of Surya Namaskar seamlessly flow into one another. Each posture stretches, strengthens, and invigorates different muscle groups. As you move, your breath synchronizes with the movements, creating a rhythmic dance between body and breath. This mindful flow promotes relaxation and helps center your mind.

Why We Do Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar is performed for several reasons:

  • To honour Surya: It's a way to express gratitude to the sun god, Surya, for his life-sustaining warmth and light.
  • To energize the body: The flowing movements stimulate the circulatory system, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
  • To improve flexibility: The postures stretch and lengthen various muscle groups, enhancing your overall flexibility.
  • To promote mindfulness: By focusing on your breath and movements, Surya Namaskar helps cultivate a sense of present-moment awareness.

How Many Postures?

There are twelve postures (asanas) that make up Surya Namaskar. These postures are performed in a continuous sequence, transitioning smoothly from one to the next.

The 12 Surya Namaskar Poses

  1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
  2. Urdhva Hastasana (Raised Hands Pose)
  3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose)
  4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose - Right Leg)
  5. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
  6. Ashtanga Namaskar (Eight-Point Salute)
  7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
  9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose - Left Leg)
  10. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose)
  11. Urdhva Hastasana (Raised Hands Pose)
  12. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Mantras: Adding Depth (Optional)

Traditionally, twelve mantras are associated with the twelve postures of Surya Namaskar. Each mantra is a Sanskrit chant that praises Surya using different names and aspects. While mantras can add a deeper layer of meaning, focusing on the postures and your breath is crucial initially. You can incorporate the mantras as you become more comfortable with the practice.

Here are the twelve mantras:

  1. Om Mitraya Namaha
  2. Om Ravaye Namaha
  3. Om Suryaya Namaha
  4. Om Bhaanave Namaha
  5. Om Khagaya Namaha
  6. Om Pushne Namaha
  7. Om Hiranya Garbhaya Namaha
  8. Om Mareechaya Namaha
  9. Om Aadityaaya Namaha
  10. Om Savitre Namaha
  11. Om Arkaaya Namaha
  12. Om Bhaskaraya Namaha

Benefits of Surya Namaskar

Regular practice of Surya Namaskar offers a multitude of benefits:

  • Improved cardiovascular health: The flowing movements get your heart rate up, promoting cardiovascular health.
  • Increased strength and flexibility: Surya Namaskar strengthens and tones various muscle groups while enhancing flexibility.
  • Weight management: The practice can help boost your metabolism and aid in weight management.
  • Stress reduction: Focusing on your breath and movements can promote relaxation and reduce stress levels.
  • Improved mental clarity: The practice can help clear your mind and enhance focus.

When to Do Surya Namaskar

The ideal time to practice Surya Namaskar is early in the morning, on an empty stomach. This allows you to harness the fresh energy of the rising sun and avoid digestive discomfort. However, you can also perform it in the evening if mornings aren't feasible. Listen to your body and choose a time that works best for you.


Surya Namaskar is a beautiful and accessible yoga practice suitable for all ages and fitness levels. It's a way to honor the sun, energize your body, and cultivate inner peace. So, why not roll out your yoga mat and greet the day with a sun salutation?


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