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12 Vital Surya Namaskar Steps to Improve Your Yoga

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Published on: 27 Nov 2020

Upskill yourself to greet the sun in style and strength with Surya namaskar (sun salutation), a part of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a modern postural yoga practice based on philosophies & teachings that date back to 4,000 years ago. The Surya namaskar is a beautiful blend of 8 powerful yoga asanas (poses)- of 12 steps- that gets you out of your head and fills every fibre of the body with gratitude. Roll out your yoga mats to experience the most widely known set of asana sequences with us. The Surya namaskar is a skilful fitness endeavour not just for the body, but also for the soul. You, beginners, are in for a treat!

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How to do Surya namaskar - the 12-Step Showdown

View sun salutation as storytelling via the body. Connect your thoughts with the rhythm of your movements and sway with every breath. Open yourself to the mysticism associated with this ancient Indian Vedic practice today. Easily reap its benefits - flexibility, balance, endurance and stamina to name a few. Let’s unearth the treasure of Surya namaskar step-by-step. 

1. Pranam Asana (The Prayer Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Pranam asana

Sun salutation starts with this foundation pose. With pranam asana, you express gratitude to the sun - the source of life.  

How to - Stand in an upright position, with your feet together and join your hands together at your chest. Bring your head to balance directly over your pelvis. Take a deep inhale and meditate with appreciation and happy thoughts. It’s better to do this asana with eyes softly shut. 
Exhale and begin a slow shift to raised arm pose after being in the prayer pose for 30 seconds. 

Benefits of Pranam Asana 

  • Brings you mental peace
  • Perfects body posture
  • Makes you more relaxed
  • Builds mind and body consciousness

2. Hastha Utanasana (Raised Arm Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Hastha utanasana

From the prayer pose, make a transition to the hastha asana or raised arm posture. 

How to- Take a deep inhale and slowly bring your arms parallel to your shoulder. Raise your arms above your head. Imagine holding an imaginary ball and gradually stretch backwards while opening your ribs and exhale.

Benefits of Hastha Utanasana

  • Aids digestion
  • Stretches the abdominal muscles and arms
  • Improves breathing by expanding the rib cage

3. Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Padahast asana

The padahastasana is a treat for the back and hamstrings. You make a 180-degree shift from above your head to gracefully touch your feet.

How to- Inhale and start moving forward with ease to touch your feet while standing. Keep your back straight and try to bend forward with knees unbent.
If you cannot touch your feet right away, bend forward to the extent our body allows you to and feel your hamstrings stretch. Exhale slowly.

Benefits of Padahastasana (Standing forward bend)

4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Ashwa Sanchalana Asana

It's time to give your hamstrings and calves the goodness of flexibility. Kick back to experience the deep stretch with ashwa sanchalanasana. 

How to- From the forward bend asana, slowly plant both your hands on the floor next to your feet. Move your right leg back to the back of the mat. Bend and drop the knee and sink lower. Keep your left leg firm and look up to elongate the spine. 

Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

  • Improves spine health 
  • Strengthens the knees and ankle by opening the hips 

5. Santholanasana (Plank Pose or balancing pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Santholan Asana

In Sanskrit, "Santulan" means to balance. Therefore, this plank pose is all about balancing your body on your hands and feet

How to- Otherwise difficult to do, the plank pose is easier to achieve from the equestrian pose or asana. Simply move your left leg backwards to join the right leg. Now, balancing your entire body weight on your toes and hands. Maintain your entire body in a straight line by keeping your hands in a perpendicular position. 

Benefits of Santholanasana (Plank Pose or Balancing Pose)

  • Refines balance and coordination
  • Builds abdominal muscle strength
  • Tones the upper body (especially the arms and shoulders)

6. Ashtanga Namaskar Asana (Eight-Limbed-Salutation)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Ashtanga Namaskar Asana

As bizarre as it sounds, the eight-limbed salutation is the most relaxing pose of Surya namaskar. 

How to- From the plank pose bring your knees forward to touch the floor and exhale. Move your hips back and slide forward with your chest and chin tapping the floor. Keep your hand planted in the same position as the previous asana. this way, both your hands, feet, knees, chest and chin touch the floor making it the 8-limbed-asana. 

Benefits of Ashtanga Namaskar Asana (Eight-Limbed-Salutation)

  • Reduces stress and tension
  • Boosts back and spine flexibility
  • Enables full-body coordination 
  • Makes the back and spine healthier 

7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Bhujang asana

Yoga is all about discovering your body by allowing it to settle in new positions that stretch and relax the muscles. The bhujangasana is the easiest and the most relaxing part of the sun salutation. 

How to- From the ashtanga namaskar, slide your posterior down and move forward to raise your chest upward in a cobra posture. Relax your shoulders by keeping them band and move the shoulders away from the ears. Inhale and look up.

Benefits of Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

  • Helps people with sciatica, asthma 
  • Relieves fatigue and tension
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Improve spinal health
  • Tones the shoulder, arms, and buttocks 

8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Adho Mukha Svanasana

On reaching this juncture of Surya namaskar, you will have reached the widely popular downward dog pose or mountain pose. 

How to- As you exhale, lift your hips up by keeping your hands in the same posture to make an "inverted V". Keep your heels planted on the floor to attain a deeper stretch. 

Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)

  • Tones the arms, shoulders, legs abdomen and arms
  • Improves blood flow to the brain
  • Hamstrings and calves lengthen to open up
  • Stretches the back and enhances spine quality 

9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Ashwa Sanchalanasana

From here onwards, it's a backward cycle in the Surya namaskar yoga to go to the original posture. 

How to- After spending a good 20 to 30 seconds in the downward dog pose, breathe in and bring your right foot forward, between your hands. Keep your left leg intact in the same position and lookup. To deepen the stretch, press your hips downwards to the floor. 

10. Padahastasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Padahast Asana

The padahastasana is the same asana we did in the beginning. But this time, try to relax your hamstrings and back as you come towards the end of this body dance. 

How to- Fall into the standing forward bend from the equestrian pose easily by bringing the left foot forward in line with the right one. Keep your palms on the floor, next to your feet. Try not to bend the knees and touch them with your nose as you exhale. 

11. Hastha Uttanasana (Raised Arm Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Hastha Uttanasana

In this pose, try to maintain a deeper connection with your body and stretch up your hastha (hands).

How to- Slowly breathe in and take your hands up while bending a little backwards. Let your biceps touch the ear as you attain full stretch in this yoga pose. 

12. Pranam Asana (The Prayer Pose)

Surya Namaskar Pose - Pranam Asana

You end where you start - the pranam asana. This is the beauty of Surya namaskar, symbolising that everything moves in a cycle. 

How to- As you exhale from the raised arm pose, bring your hands forward and put your arms by your side. 
This is where you relax and enjoy the new energy in your body. 

While your body rejuvenates from this full-body workout, think about the many benefits Surya namaskar (sun salutation) brings to the table. 

Benefits of Surya Namaskar

Yoga’s popularity (especially in the West) is beyond measure. Considering this, international yoga day is celebrated every year on 21 June every year to highlight the significance of this spiritual, mental, and physical practice. 
Yoga therapy in itself is a complete body workout. But the sun salutation with all its poses has special benefits for all. Follow the above poses closely as they come with these benefits:

  • Improves flexibility 
  • Tones the body by building muscle strength
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Supports digestion with a good metabolism rate 
  • Aids in respiration and blood circulation 
  • Enhances your posture and improves your balance
  • Adds to bone health & strength
  • Boosts immunity by removing toxins 
  • Increase focus (just like music)
  • Contributes to good sleep
  • Relaxes your mind by bringing you mindfulness 
  • Improves your core by building inner strength
  • Makes you aware of your body functions (chakras)

For thousands of years, the world has seen Yoga as a window connecting the body and soul. Most Yogis & practitioners start their everyday yoga fitness routine with the Surya namaskar to get their blood flowing. While numerous blogs and videos online show how to do Yoga properly, nothing beats guidance from a skilled practitioner. Sign up for 15 minutes micro courses delivered by yoga experts at KoolStories. Become an exclusive member and download KoolStories app now.


How many times one should do Surya Namaskar?

You can start by doing 2 sessions of Surya Namaskar on alternate days. You can then shift it to 2 sessions per day and then increase the sets until you can do 12 rounds each day.

Who should not do Surya Namaskar?

1. Women on their menses should avoid Surya Namaskar.
2. People with higher blood pressures and also, people with hernia problem should avoid it.
3. People with back problems should seek help from their therapists.

Is Surya Namaskar better than walking?

The emphasis of walking/jogging remains on your lower body whereas Surya Namaskar has its benefits on every joint of your body- which is basically better.

What happens if you do Surya Namaskar everyday?

Surya Namaskar gives strength to the back as well as to the muscles and brings down blood sugar levels. It also improves metabolism and blood circulation (that means healthy and glowing skin) also, ensures regular menstrual cycle for women.

How much weight can I lose by doing Surya Namaskar?

If you perform one session of Surya Namaskar in a day which has 12 rounds, it will burn about 13.90 calories for a person who is of moderate weight of about 80-90 Kgs. Being constant for days when your 108 rounds are complete, it will burn 1500 calories. And spending your 7700 calories you will lose 1 kg of weight.

Is Surya Namaskar cardio?

When done early in the morning on an empty stomach, Surya namaskar is an excellent cardio exercise. It has a positive impact on your body and mind.

Is Surya Namaskar better than gym?

Surya Namaskar is considered a practical exercise that helps strengthen the back and muscles and is a full-body workout. And yes, better than lifting weights!