Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar is one of the most beneficial yoga techniques. You can get the health benefits from this single practice, as each of its poses has been designed by keeping a particular aim in mind. It was designed as a way to cleanse your five levels of consciousness known as Annamaya kosha i.e. the physical body, pranamaya kosha or the breath, Manomaya or mental, vijnanmaya or intellect, and Karana sharir i.e. the causal body.
The 12 postures of Surya Namaskar along with their linked breathing are:
- Face the sun while standing completely erect. Bring your hands in the Namaskar pose, or in folded-hands pose close to the chest, almost touching it. Inhale while bringing your arms in folded-hands pose and exhale as the hands are brought to the chest level.
- Keep your hands straight and raise them up and then bend backwards with the arms upright. Stretch the arms completely. Do all this while inhaling.
- Time to flex your waist. Gently bend forward while keeping your knees straight. The ideal practice is to bend enough to touch the ground with your palm. Exhale through this move.
- Pull your left leg back while keeping the palms on the ground firmly. Raise your head to look at the sun. You need to inhale through these steps.
- Keeping your hands firmly on the ground, bring your right leg back to the left leg. Your body would make an arch with hands and legs straight. You have to exhale while performing this step.
- Get your body stretched on the ground. Strike the sashtanga namaskar pose. Feet, knees, thighs, chest and forehead touch the ground in this position while keeping yourself slightly raised from the ground on your palms. In this position, turn your head to both sides, left and right, let both ears touch the ground. First, inhale and then exhale in this pose.
- Raise your head gently, palms on the ground, and bend your back upwards as much as possible. Inhale through this process.
- Repeat the step 5.
- Step 4 is repeated but with the other leg, i.e. bringing forward right leg.
- Repeat step 3.
- Same as step 2.
- Same as step1. You can exhale when ending the practice. Follow it up with feeling a few inhales and exhales.
Beginners are advised to perform a set of two Surya Namaskars for some days. They can gradually increase it to 3, 6 and up to 12 with practice.