The Sun Salutation: Surya Namaskara

Why Salutations to the Sun?

“The sun is a symbol of the Supreme primordial life energy, the ‘Vaisvanara’, which pervades all objects, protects all objects, and gives life to everything on Earth. The Rishi, also known as the Kavi or the poet, praises that Supreme Being!” – Sri M

What is Surya Namaskar?

Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is a traditional yoga sequence dedicated to the Sun God, Surya. Comprising 12 poses or asanas, this practice offers a holistic workout for the body, mind, and spirit. It’s an energizing way to start your yoga practice, warming up the body and focusing the mind.

The 12-step sequence is performed rhythmically, with each movement synchronized with either an inhalation or exhalation. This integration of breath and movement cultivates concentration and a meditative state, making Surya Namaskar a complete yogic practice.

Benefits of Surya Namaskar

Regular practice of Surya Namaskar brings numerous benefits:

  • Balances All Systems: Stimulates and balances all nine systems of the body.
  • Improves Metabolism: Enhances metabolism and blood circulation.
  • Strengthens Muscles: Increases muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Aids Digestion: Improves digestive health.
  • Calms the Mind: Relaxes and calms the mind, reducing stress.

The Power of the Sun

The Sun is our primary source of energy, providing the prana (life force) essential for all life on Earth. By practicing Surya Namaskar, we align our body’s energy flow with the Sun’s energy. This alignment allows us to tap into the same vital energy that sustains life on this planet.

In Hatha Yoga, balancing the energies of the Sun (Surya) and the Moon (Chandra) is fundamental. Surya Namaskar embodies this balance, making it a significant practice in Hatha Yoga.

Surya Namaskar: A Complete Practice

The sequence of Surya Namaskar consists of 12 distinct asanas. These poses involve alternate backward and forward bending of the spine, enhancing spinal strength and flexibility. This series of movements massages, stretches, tones, and stimulates various muscles and organs, benefiting the circulatory, respiratory, and other bodily systems.

Additionally, Surya Namaskar stimulates the chakras (energy centers) and enhances concentration and mental stillness. The practice integrates solar energy into our system, serving as both a physical exercise and a form of worship.

Breath Awareness in Surya Namaskar

Breath awareness is crucial in Surya Namaskar. Each transition from one asana to another is marked by an inhalation or exhalation, helping practitioners stay connected to their breath. This connection fosters a deep awareness of the body’s changes during the practice.

Different postures in Surya Namaskar promote various breathing patterns—diaphragmatic, abdominal, and clavicular breathing. Observing these patterns enhances mindfulness and body awareness, deepening the practice’s meditative quality.

How to Practice Surya Namaskar

  1. Setting the Intention

Before beginning Surya Namaskar, practitioners at Bharat Yogavidya Kendra chant the following prayer from the Ishavasya Upanishad:

“Hiranmayena paatrena Satyasyaa pihitam mukham Tattvam pushan apaavrunu Satyadharmaaya drishtaye”

“O Sun, the Controller! Remove the dazzling golden disc from your face so that I, the righteous seeker looking for the Truth, may see you face to face.”

The 12 Steps of Surya Namaskar

  1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
  2. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
  3. Padahastasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
  4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
  5. Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
  6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with Eight Parts)
  7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  8. Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
  9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
  10. Padahastasana (Hand to Foot Pose)
  11. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
  12. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Each cycle consists of these 12 steps repeated twice, engaging first the right leg, then the left leg during Ashwa Sanchalanasana.


Surya Namaskara is a profound practice that integrates physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of yoga. It can be performed as a standalone practice or a warm-up before other asanas. Whether practiced slowly with breath awareness for a meditative effect, at a medium pace for muscular endurance, or quickly for a cardiovascular workout, Surya Namaskara remains an essential part of a balanced yoga practice.

“Matter which is non-living, inanimate matter and the anima – the life which animates it – Prana has produced all that you see on Earth! The sun indeed is life. Why? Because it is the sun that causes photosynthesis, it is the sun that makes life. If the sun stops working for some days, there will be no agriculture, no growth, nothing! It is the sun that gives light and heat. The prana or life energy, in the form of the light of the sun, bathes the entire Universe in its four directions, with life.” – Sri M

For a guided practice of Surya Namaskar with detailed instructions, you can follow along with our YouTube tutorial

About The Satsang Foundation

The Satsang Foundation, founded by Sri M, is a meeting point for spiritual seekers of all persuasions. The Satsang Foundation also extends a helping hand to the less privileged of society.