Surya Namaskar : Steps, Poses and Benefits


Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations is the most widely known sequence in Yoga for it uses a special technique of Sun vitalization. With its unique set of 12 poses, it gives you a full body stretch while massaging your internal organs. A great cardio workout for every yogi.

The Basics

Who can do it : Every beginner and advanced yogi

Who should not do it : Pregnant women, people with chronic backache and other skeletal problems

When to do it : Early morning, empty stomach

Difficulty level : Moderate

Requisites : A yoga mat, a rising sun and of course, You! (you can also use mantras in background for mental relaxation)
Face the rising sun and hold each pose for 3-5 seconds.

The Sequence

Posture 1 (Exhale) : The Prayer Position

1-prayer position

  • Stand erect
  • Fold your hands in namaste pose, close to your chest
  • As you chant ‘Om Suryadevaya Namah‘, exhale
  • Gaze : Eyes closed, concentrate on the space between the eyebrows (third eye)
  • Benefit : Prepares you for the following poses

Posture 2 (Inhale) : The Upward Tree Pose

2-mountain pose

  • Keeping hands together raise your arms up and inhale
  • Bend backwards to form an arch for a flexible spine
  • Gaze : At the sky
  • Other variations of Upward Tree pose
  • Benefit : Flexible and relaxed spine

Posture 3 (Exhale) : Intense Forward Bending Pose

3-intense forward bending pose

  • Gradually bring your hands down while exhaling
  • Try to touch the floor with hands on either side of the body
  • Bending the knees slightly is okay
  • Keep your head as close to your knees as possible
  • This is different from Half Forward bend pose
  • Gaze : Concentrate on the third eye
  • Benefit : Relieves gastric disorders

Posture 4 (Inhale) : The Low Lunge Pose

4-low lunge pose

  • Lowering your hips stretch your left leg back and balance it on your toes
  • Let your right leg be bent while you raise your face up to the sky
  • To practice it separately, read: Lunge pose
  • Gaze : At the sky
  • Benefit : Strengthens limbs, stretches back and hamstring muscles

Posture 5 (Retain) : The Downward Dog Pose

5-inclined plank pose

  • While holding breath, stretch your right leg back parallel to the left
  • In this pose, your hip should be raised high with straight knees
  • Lower your head
  • To practice it separately, read: Downward Dog pose
  • Gaze : On the ground
  • Benefit : Toning of hips and back

Posture 6 (Exhale) : The Earth Prayer Pose

6-earth prayer pose

  • Very gradually lower your hips near to the floor and exhale
  • At this point your knees should be brushing the floor slightly but not the hips and your arms will be bent perpendicular to the ground
  • Touch the floor with your forehead and chest and concentrate on your third eye
  • Benefit : Strengthening of arm muscles and opening of chest

Posture 7 (Inhale) : The Cobra Pose

7-cobra pose

  • Lift your chest upwards as you draw an arch in air with your head while breathing in
  • In this position, your arms will be straight, back arched, head facing the sky and knees and toes touching the ground
  • To practice it separately, read: Cobra pose
  • Gaze : At the sky
  • Benefit : Clears respiratory channels, strengthens back and arms

Posture 8 (Exhale) : The Downward Dog Pose

8-downward dog pose

  • Raise your hips and lower your chest slowly while exhaling
  • Your knees and arms must be straight with weight on palms and feet
  • Gaze : On the navel
  • Benefit : Stretches legs and provides relief from kidney problems
  • Other Variations of Downward Dog pose

Posture 9 (Inhale) : The Low Lunge Pose

9-low lunge pose

  • Follow steps of Posture 4 with left knee crouching and right leg stretched back

Posture 10 (Exhale) : Intense Forward Bending Pose

10-intense forward bending pose

  • Repeat steps of Posture 3

Posture 11 (Inhale) : The Mountain Pose

11-mountain pose

  • Bend backwards as you did in Posture 2

Posture 12 (Exhale) : The Prayer Position

12-prayer position

  • Bring yourself to Posture 1 in the prayer position

This way you complete one full cycle of Surya Namaskar.

You can repeat this 5-20 times as per your stamina.

After each cycle, follow up the sequence by Savasana (Corpse Pose) or Balasana (Child’s pose) for relaxation.

Checkout the video from India’s renowned yoga coach – Sapna regarding Surya Namaskar and its Variations.

If you liked this video, you can also subscribe to here youtube channel.

To know more about various kinds of Yoga styles and which one best suits you, read this article Yoga Lingo for Dummies (A Beginner’s Guide to Jargon Free Yoga)


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