Surya Namaskar: Embracing the Sun Salutation

Silhouette of woman practicing yoga at sunrise.

‍Welcome to the world of Surya Namaskar, the ancient practice that combines physical exercise and mindfulness. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a beginner looking to improve your overall well-being, Surya Namaskar has something to offer everyone. With its origins in India, this dynamic sequence of yoga poses is often referred to as the “Sun Salutation” due to its sun-like movements and energizing effects.

As you flow through each posture, you’ll engage your muscles, stretch your body, and cultivate a deep connection with your breath. Surya Namaskar provides a holistic workout, targeting different muscle groups, improving flexibility, and increasing blood circulation. Additionally, this practice has profound benefits for your mental health, bringing clarity, focus, and a sense of tranquility to your mind.

In today’s fast-paced world, taking a few minutes each day to perform Surya Namaskar can have a transformative impact on your overall health and well-being. So, whether you practice it as a standalone routine or as part of your regular yoga practice, get ready to embrace the sun’s energy and unlock your full potential with Surya Namaskar.

What is Surya Namaskar?
Young sporty fit woman doing yoga Sun salutation Surya Namaskar pose Hasta Uttanasana on tropical beach on sunset

Surya Namaskar, also known as “Sun Salutation,” is a traditional yoga sequence that combines a series of twelve asanas (yoga poses) performed in a flowing motion. The practice is rooted in ancient Indian traditions and is associated with the worship of the sun. Each pose in Surya Namaskar is designed to target specific muscle groups, promoting strength, flexibility, and balance. The fluid movements of Surya Namaskar create a graceful dance-like sequence, allowing practitioners to connect with their breath and cultivate mindfulness.

The History and Origins 

The origins of Surya Namaskar can be traced back to the Vedic period in India, where the practice was developed as a form of physical and spiritual exercise. The sun has always held a significant place in Indian culture, symbolizing energy, vitality, and life force. Surya Namaskar was traditionally performed at sunrise as a way to pay homage to the sun and harness its power. Over the centuries, Surya Namaskar has evolved and gained popularity around the world as a complete mind-body workout.

Benefits of Practicing Surya Namaskar

Yoga asana outdoors on beach. Caucasian woman practices Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga Surya Namaskar Sun Salutation Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Upward facing dog pose
The benefits of practicing Surya Namaskar are numerous and encompass both physical and mental well-being. From a physical standpoint, it helps to strengthen the muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall body coordination. The flowing movements of the practice also increase blood circulation, promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. Additionally, regular practice of Surya Namaskar can aid in weight loss, as it is a dynamic form of exercise that burns calories and tones the body.

On a mental level, this pose has a calming effect on the mind. The synchronization of breath and movement helps to quiet the thoughts and bring a sense of mindfulness to the present moment. The practice can also enhance concentration and focus, allowing practitioners to experience a deep sense of inner peace and tranquility. Overall, Surya Namaskar provides a holistic approach to well-being, nurturing both the body and the mind.

How to Do – Step-by-Step Guide

To perform, start by standing at the front of your mat with your feet together and your palms pressed together in a prayer position at your heart center. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and prepare for the practice. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you flow through each pose in Surya Namaskar:


    1. Prayer Pose (Pranamasana): Stand tall with your feet together, and palms pressed together in front of your chest. Take a deep breath in and exhale, grounding yourself in the present moment.

    1. Raised Arms Pose (Hasta Uttanasana): Inhale and stretch your arms outwards and upwards, arching your back slightly and lengthening your spine. Gently lean back, keeping your gaze forward or upwards.

    1. Hand to Foot Pose (Hasta Padasana): Exhale and fold forward from the hips, bringing your hands down to touch the mat on either side of your feet. If your flexibility is limited, you can bend your knees slightly.

    1. Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana): Inhale and step your right foot back into a lunge position, keeping your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your gaze and open your chest.

    1. Mountain Pose (Dandasana): As you exhale, step your left foot back to meet the right foot, coming into a high plank position. Keep your body in a straight line, engaging your core and lengthening through your heels.

    1. Eight-Limbed Pose (Ashtanga Namaskara): Lower your knees, chest, and chin to the mat, keeping your elbows close to your body. This pose is also known as the “Salute with Eight Limbs.”

    1. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): Inhale and slide forward, lifting your chest off the mat, while keeping your palms firmly planted on the ground. Draw your shoulders back and open your heart.

    1. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Exhale and lift your hips up and back, coming into an inverted “V” shape with your body. Press your palms into the mat and relax your neck.

    1. Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana): Inhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, returning to the lunge position. Lift your gaze and open your chest.

    1. Hand to Foot Pose (Hasta Padasana): Exhale and step your left foot forward to meet the right foot, folding forward from the hips. Let your head relax and bring your hands down to the mat.

    1. Raised Arms Pose (Hasta Uttanasana): Inhale and sweep your arms outwards and upwards, arching your back slightly and lengthening your spine. Gently lean back, keeping your gaze forward or upwards.

    1. Prayer Pose (Pranamasana): Exhale and return to the starting position, standing tall with your feet together and your palms pressed together in prayer position at your heart center.


Surya Namaskar can be modified and adapted to suit different fitness levels and individual preferences. Here are a few variations of Surya Namaskar that you can explore:

    • Slow Flow: Perform each pose in a slow and controlled manner, focusing on the breath and allowing for deeper stretches.

    • Dynamic Flow: Flow through each pose quickly, maintaining a steady pace to increase the cardiovascular benefits of the practice.

    • Chair: If you have limited mobility or prefer a seated practice, you can perform Surya Namaskar while sitting on a chair. Modify the poses accordingly, using the chair for support.

    • Advanced: For experienced practitioners, more challenging variations of Surya Namaskar can be explored, incorporating advanced poses such as arm balances or inversions.

Remember to listen to your body and honor its limitations. Modify the poses as needed and always focus on maintaining a steady breath throughout the practice.

Surya Namaskar and Its Connection to Yoga

Beautiful sporty fit yogini woman practices yoga asana Chaturanga Dandasana - four limbed staff pose in the city
Surya Namaskar is deeply rooted in the practice of yoga and is often incorporated as a warm-up sequence or as a complete practice in itself. The Sanskrit word “Namaskar” means “to bow” or “to salute,” signifying a gesture of respect and gratitude. The poses in Surya Namaskar are designed to honor the sun and its life-giving energy, while also honoring the divine light within ourselves.

In the broader context of yoga, it represents the union of opposites – the balance between effort and surrender, strength and flexibility, stability and flow. It serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of all things and the cyclical nature of life. Surya Namaskar can be seen as a moving meditation, allowing practitioners to experience a sense of unity and harmony within themselves and with the world around them.

Incorporating Surya Namaskar into Your Daily Routine

One of the beauties of Surya Namaskar is its simplicity and versatility. It can be practiced anywhere, anytime, with minimal space and equipment requirements. Here are a few tips for incorporating Surya Namaskar into your daily routine:


    1. Set a regular practice time: Choose a time of day that works best for you, whether it’s in the morning, during a lunch break, or in the evening. Consistency is key in reaping the benefits of Surya Namaskar.

    1. Start with a few rounds: If you’re new to Surya Namaskar, begin with a few rounds and gradually increase the number of repetitions as your body becomes more accustomed to the practice.

    1. Combine with other yoga poses: Surya Namaskar can be a standalone practice or can be combined with other yoga poses to create a more comprehensive routine. Experiment with different sequences to find what works best for you.

    1. Practice mindfully: As you flow through each pose, pay attention to your breath, sensations in your body, and the quality of your thoughts. Allow the practice to become a moving meditation, bringing your awareness into the present moment.

    1. Seek guidance if needed: If you’re new to Surya Namaskar or have specific health concerns, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a qualified yoga teacher to ensure proper alignment and modifications as needed.

Precautions and Modifications 

Young multiracial woman doing sun salutation at home with internet video tutorial using laptop. Surya namaskar yoga practice. Copy space. Wellness and spirituality concepts.
While Surya Namaskar is generally safe for most individuals, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. If you have any pre-existing health conditions, or injuries, or are pregnant, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise routine. Additionally, here are some modifications you can make to the practice to suit your needs:


    1. Knee concerns: If you have knee issues, you can place a folded blanket or towel under your knee in poses such as Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana) to provide support and reduce strain.

    1. Wrist discomfort: If you experience discomfort in your wrists, you can perform Surya Namaskar on your fists or use yoga blocks for support in poses such as Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).

    1. Low back sensitivity: If you have low back sensitivity or pain, it’s important to maintain a gentle bend in your knees in poses such as Hand to Foot Pose (Hasta Padasana) to avoid strain on the lower back.

Remember to listen to your body and modify the poses as needed. It’s always better to practice with awareness and respect for your body’s limitations.

Surya Namaskar for Different Fitness Levels

it can be practiced by individuals of all fitness levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners. The key is to start with a modified version of the practice and gradually build strength, flexibility, and endurance. Here are some tips for different fitness levels:


    1. Beginners: If you’re new to Surya Namaskar or have limited flexibility, start with a slower pace and focus on proper alignment in each pose. You can also modify the poses by using props or taking breaks as needed.

    1. Intermediate: As you gain familiarity with the sequence, you can gradually increase the pace of your movements and explore deeper stretches. Remember to maintain a steady breath and practice mindfully.

    1. Advanced: For advanced practitioners, Surya Namaskar can be a challenging and invigorating practice. You can experiment with variations, incorporate more advanced poses, or increase the number of rounds performed.

Regardless of your fitness level, it’s important to approach the practice with a sense of curiosity and non-judgment. Every day is different, and your practice will naturally evolve over time.


Surya Namaskar is a transformative practice that offers a multitude of benefits for both the body and the mind. As you flow through the sequence of poses, you’ll not only strengthen and stretch your muscles but also cultivate a deep sense of mindfulness and connection with your breath. The practice of Surya Namaskar allows you to harness the energy of the sun, bringing vitality, clarity, and peace into your life.

Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a beginner on the path of self-discovery, Surya Namaskar has something to offer everyone. It can be practiced as a standalone routine or incorporated into your existing yoga practice. With its simplicity and versatility, Surya Namaskar can become a daily ritual that nourishes your body, calms your mind, and uplifts your spirit.

So, step onto your mat, embrace the sun’s energy, and unlock your full potential with Surya Namaskar. May this ancient practice guide you on a journey of self-discovery, transformation, and inner radiance. Namaste