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Sun Salutation | Detailed Instructions to the 12 Poses of Surya Namaskar

Sun Salutation | Detailed Instructions to the 12 Poses of Surya Namaskar

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I still remember my school days when we students assemble in neatly aligned rows and columns in the big ground on our yoga mats every morning before our regular classes start. Our Yoga teacher will lead us and we all follow him doing the 12 sets of Sun Salutation, also called Surya Namaskar/Surya Namaskara, every day.

Yes, we followed that routine every day and it has now turned a habit for most of us. A big THANKS to my School for sowing the seeds of the powerful Yoga routine in our lifestyle.

But, you may ask – Why Sun Salutation?

We all know that – SUN is the ultimate source of life on earth. One can blindly accept that No lifeforms can exist without the Sun. Hence, Yogis those days started their day with Sun Salutation to grace the Sun God.

In the same aspect, we students also started the day by honoring Lord Surya through Sun Salutation.

Here is everything about this basic yet highly beneficial yoga routine in its complete detail to help you practice it perfectly.

What is Sun Salutation?

Sun Salutation falls under Pranayama Yoga.

Prayanama Yoga refers to the yoga techniques of controlling the breath.

Hence, like all other Pranayama Yoga sequences, Sun Salutation must also be done silently and at the same time very slowly.

When you perform 12 sets of the 12 Poses of Sun Salutation as the Sun god rises in the morning and lets the sun rays fall on you, you get good physical and mental health benefits. Let me go deep into the health benefits of Sun Salutation later in this article.

We shall now start with how to prepare for Sun Salutation.

‘Surya’ means ‘Sun’ and ‘Namaskar’ means ‘Offering respect’ in Sanskrit. Hence, Surya Namaskar by itself means offering respect to the Sun’.

Preparing for Sun Salutation

Sun Salutation
Sun Salutation

There are a few things that we must follow before going out and practicing Surya Namaskar.

Perform Sun Salutation during Sunrise or Sunset

Surya Namaskar must be done early in the morning during the sunrise to reap the full benefits from the Sun’s vibration.

Some might ask – Can it be done during the evening times?

The answer is YES. But it must be done before the sunset.

However, If you are doing it after the sunset as the moon rises, it becomes Chandra Namaskar or Moon Salutation.

There isn’t much of a difference except for two extra asanas for Moon Salutation.

Practice Sun Salutation in an empty stomach

This is pretty important.

You must always make sure that you practice Sun Salutation on an empty stomach.

The reason is Sun Salutation incorporates Asanas that will work on your stomach. This may lead to stomach upsets if you do it with food.

Therefore, make sure you have a 2 hours limit between having food and performing Sun Salutation.

Never stress on perfection immediately

Though there are norms of perfection for each individual Sun Salutation poses, you can do it ‘perfectly’ as your body accepts it.

Never overstretch as a beginner.

Do the Asanas without putting pressure on your body parts.

With practice, you are going to master it. After all, Practice makes a man perfect, Right?

Prefer a well-ventilated environment

The best place to practice Sun Salutation is any place outdoors.

You get the maximum benefits from Sun Salutation as the light rays from the sun fall on your body as you perform the routine.

If you are going to practice indoors, make sure you are in a perfectly ventilated room.

Again, I would like to stress here that – Doing Sun Salutation in a completely open atmosphere will help you reap maximum benefits.

You will definitely feel the difference the very first day!

Practice 12 sets of Sun Salutation everyday

Every set of Sun Salutation consists of 2 rounds – one on the right leg and another on the left leg.

A good Sun Salutation routine would mean 12 sets of it.

This refers to performing 12 rounds of Sun Salutation on the right leg and another 12 rounds on your left leg.

However, if you are just a beginner, start off with at least 2 to 4 sets every day.

As you get good at it and your body adapts to the routine, complete 12 sets every day.

Follow the 12 sets of Sun Salutation, increase it gradually and one day you will hit the ‘Yogi’s Mark’ of 108 sets.

Sun Salutation Mantra

Sun Salutation Mantra
Sun Salutation Mantra

Sun Salutation comprises 12 Mantras for every posture in it.

Some chant the mantras at the beginning of each round while some chant it with each pose.

However, anything is fine.

The former method is the best for beginners and we, during school days, followed it.

The latter method becomes tricky because chanting the mantra in sync with the breathing at every step seems to be tricky at the beginning.

You can chant the mantra within your heart to make breathing easier.

You are welcome to follow any of the methods, but the second method (chanting mantra with every pose) is the correct way.

Here are the 12 Sun Salutation Mantra followed by the meaning of each mantra.

Mantras of Sun Salutation (with meaning)

Om Mitraya Namaha
Salutation to the one who is a friend of everyone
Namaskar Posture
Om Ravaye Namaha
Salutation to the shining one
Om Suryaya Namaha
Salutation to the one who induces activity
Om Bhanave Namaha
Salutation to the one whose brightness illuminates the earth
Om Khagaya Namaha
Salutation to the one who moves quickly in the sky
Om Pushne Namaha
Salutation to the one who gives strength
Om Hiranyagarbhaya Namaha
Salutation to the Golden womb from which everything else emerged
Om Marichaye Namaha
Salutation to the Lord of the Dawn
Om Adityaya Namaha
Salutation to the son of Aditi, the cosmic mother
Om Savitiri Namaha
Salutation to the mother of creation 
Om Arkaya Namaha
Salutation to the one who deserves worship
Om Bhaskaraya Namaha
Salutation to the one who brightens both the internal and external world

Chanting these mantras as you perform the Sun Salutation poses helps your body in attracting the Sun’s vibration more effectively.

These vibrations along with the individual asana’s benefits offer you a lot of health advantages which I will cover later.

12 Poses of Sun Salutation

Following are the 12 poses of Sun Salutation

  1. Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)
  2. Hasta Uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)
  3. Hasta Padasana (Pada Hastasana or The Hand to Foot Pose)
  4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose)
  5. Parvatasana (The Mountain Pose)
  6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Knees, Chest, Chin)
  7. Bhujangasana (The Cobra Pose)
  8. Parvatasana (The Mountain Pose)
  9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (The Equestrian Pose)
  10. Hasta Padasana (Pada Hastasana or The Hand to Foot Pose)
  11. Hasta Uttanasana (The Raised Arms Pose)
  12. Pranamasana (The Prayer Pose)

Now as we prepared ourselves for performing Sun Salutation and we have the mantras in hand, Let’s jump to the interesting section of the article – How to do Sun Salutation.

How to do Sun Salutation

As mentioned above, Sun Salutation includes 12 Yoga asanas.

Let’s go through the Sun Salutation sequence step-by-step, one at a time.

Step 1: Pranamasana

Pranamasana is the very 1st Posture of Sun Salutation. It is called 'THE PRAYER POSE'.
Pranamasana – 1st Posture of Sun Salutation

Sun Salutation starts with Pranamasana also called The Prayer Pose.

It is similar to the Indian way of greeting people.

Here is how you do Pranamasana.

  • Stand on the edge of your Yoga mat and look straight.
  • Place your feet together. Balance your whole body-weight equally on both the feet and relax your shoulders.
  • As you feel the shoulders are relaxed, breathe in and lift your both arms above your head slowly.
  • Now, bring the arms to the prayer position between your chest as you breathe out.

Stay in this position and chant the mantra – Om Mitraya Namaha.

Benefits of Pranamasana

  • Pranamasana offers you a sense of relaxation
  • It builds up concentration

Step 2: Hasta Uttanasana

Hasta Uttanasana is the Second Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE RAISED ARMS POSE.
Hasta Uttanasana – 2nd Posture of Sun Salutation

The next asana in the sequence is termed Hasta Uttanasana. It is The Raised Arms Pose.

To do this pose,

  • Start inhaling slowly as you chant the mantra – Om Ravaye Namaha.
  • As you breathe in, lift your arms up and back. Make sure your biceps are close to your ears.
  • Now, bend your body backward as much as you can.

We used to do this posture in school with both hands parallel to each other.

However, the correct way of doing this is by stretching your body back with palms still stuck together.

Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana

  • Hasta Uttanasana helps you in improving flexibility.
  • The Asana also helps in digestion.
  • As you tend to stretch backward as much as you can, it stretches and tones abdomen muscles.
  • Hasta Uttanasana expands your chest and rib cage, thereby, improving the intake of oxygen. This helps in the full use of your lung capacity.

Step 3: Hasta Padasana

Hasta Padasana is the Third Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE HAND TO FOOT POSE.
Hasta Padasana – 3rd Posture of Sun Salutation, Image Courtesy: The Yoga Bar

The third asana of Sun Salutation is called Hasta Padasana (also called Pada Hastasana or The Hand to Foot Pose).

Follow the steps to complete this Asana.

Remember, the legs should be straight during this sequence.

As you practice, deepen this posture by trying to place your palms on the ground while bending. Also, try to touch your legs with the forehead.

This sums the completion of this asana perfectly.

Benefits of Hasta Padasana

  • Hasta Padasana is a good posture to reduce belly fat.
  • It also increases flexibility.
  • The Asana stretches your back muscles and back of your legs’ muscles.
  • Hasta Padhasana improves digestion and eliminates constipation.
  • In fact, it decreases the occurrence of many stomach related issues.
  • Hasta Padhasana also helps in keeping your spine erect by toning the nerves there.

Step 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana

Ashwa Sanchalasana is the Pourth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE EQUESTRIAN POSE.
Ashwa Sanchalasana – 4th Posture of Sun Salutation, Image Courtesy: HealthLove

The next pose is called Ashwa Sanchalanasana. It is also called the Equestrian Pose.

Follow the below steps to complete this Asana.

  • As you inhale, take your left leg backwards and stretch it as much as you can.
  • Bend your right knee with your palms still flat on the ground.
  • Arch your back now. Tilt your head backwards and see straight ahead.

As you perform this Asana, chant the mantra – Om Bhanave Namaha.

Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana

  • Ashwa Sanchalanasana also helps your abdominal organs.
  • It also aids in nerve balance.
  • The Asana increases the flexibility of legs as you stretch them during the sequence.

Step 5: Parvatasana

Parvatasana is the Fifth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE MOUNTAIN POSE.
Parvatasana – 5th Posture of Sun Salutation

Ashwa Sanchalanasana is immediately followed by the Mountain Pose or Parvatasana.

To do it,

  • While exhaling and chanting the mantra – Om Khagaya Namaha, take your right leg back and place it in position with your left leg.
  • Now, raise your buttocks and keep your head between your hands.

If noted, this asana resembles the mountain from sidewards.

In order to deepen the effect of this pose, you could tilt your head more inwards.


Benefits of Parvatasana

  • Parvatasana improves the blood circulation in your spinal region and brain.
  • As your body weight during this Asana is distributed equally on your legs and hands, it increases the strength of legs and hands.

Step 6: Ashtanga Namaskara

Ashtanga Namaskara is the Sixth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE EIGHT-LIMBED SALUTATION.
Ashtanga Namaskara – 6th Posture of Sun Salutation, Image Courtesy: Yoga Shelter

The Ashtanga Namaskara requires you to hold your breath while performing the sequence.

Here is how to do it.

  • As you hold your breath bring your body forward.
  • Let it touch the ground at 8 points2 Feet, 2 Knees, 2 Hands, Chest, and Chin.
  • Chant the mantra – Om Pushne Namaha.

NOTE: Make sure your hands are in line with the shoulders.

Benefits of Ashtanga Namaskara

  • Ashtanga Namaskara strengthens your hands, legs, and chest together.

Step 7: Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana is the Seventh Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE COBRA POSE.
Bhujangasana – 7th Posture of Sun Salutation

Bhujangasana is one of my favorite poses and is the Seventh posture of Sun Salutation.

This is how you do it.

  • Inhale and raise your body with the help of your hands while chanting the mantra – Om Hiranyagarbhaya Namaha.
  • Tilt your head backwards and see straight up.

You will find that this pose would look like a cobra raising its hood and hence called The Cobra Pose.

Benefits of Bhujangasana

  • Bhujangasana is a great posture to strengthen your lower back.
  • The Asana stretches your spine and muscles surrounding it perfectly.
  • It is good for lower abdomen, digestive organs, urinary organs and reproductive organs in women.
  • It tones your butt muscles.
  • Most importantly, if you are a woman with menstrual abnormalities, master Bhujangasana perfectly. It will help you with it.

Learn in detail:  How to Do Cobra Pose.

Step 8: Parvatasana

Parvatasana is the Eighth Posture of Sun Salutation. It is also called THE MOUNTAIN POSE.
Parvatasana – 8th Posture of Sun Salutation, Image Courtesy: Bustle

Yes, it is the same Fifth pose again.

So, this is how you complete it.

  • Exhale and lift your buttocks to its peak.
  • This time you must chant the mantra – Om Marichaye Namaha.

Step 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana

This is the same as Step 4 but with a different leg.

Follow the steps as mentioned below.

  • Start inhaling and chant the mantra – Om Savitiri Namaha.
  • As you chant the mantra, fold your left leg while the right leg is stretched to its maximum.
  • Arch your back and tilt your head.

Step 10: Hasta Padasana

This posture is exactly the same as Step 3.

Again, with practice, the efficiency of doing this asana will improve.

Placing your palms on the ground, touching your legs with your head, and doing this asana with the legs not bent is just days away.

Step 11: Hasta Uttanasana

Yes, you must have got it right. This is exactly the same as Step 2.

Do it as follows.

  • Start inhaling by chanting the mantra – Om Adityaya Namaha.
  • Lift your arms up with palms stuck to each other in prayer position.
  • Bend your body backward as much as possible.

With practice, you will see that you are able to bend more backward every time.

Step 12: Pranamasana

Now we end one round of Sun Salutation with Step 1.

From Hasta Uttanasana’s posture come back to Pranamasana steadily as you exhale. Chant the mantra – Om Bhaskaraya Namaha as you perform the sequence.

As you complete the 12 steps, you have completed the first round of the first step. You can continue the second round from here.

In the second round, you just need to change legs in Step 4 and Step 9 both of which are Ashwa Sanchalanasana.

As you reach Step 4, instead of stretching back the left leg, stretch your right leg backward. Likewise, in Step 9, instead of stretching back your right leg, stretch your left leg backward and complete the round.

Simple, right?

With this, you have completed One Set of Sun Salutation perfectly.

Woohoo, High Five!

If you are a beginner start with 2 Sets, increase the set count by 2 every 3 days and you will be doing 12 Sets of Sun Salutation a day in no time.

What after Sun Salutation

Savasana-The Corpse Pose
Savasana – The Corpse Pose, Image Courtesy: Easy Ayurveda

So, you completed your goal quota of Sun Salutation sets like a pro yogi.

You feel perfectly activated, similar to a chemical reaction that speeds up after adding a catalyst.

We went through one more step during our school days and I too think it’s the best one.

We performed Shavasana, also called The Corpse Pose, for 15 minutes.

Don’t get misled with the English name of the asana. But you will see how this further enhances the effect of Sun Salutation

This is how you perform this posture.

  • Lie flat on the ground on your yoga mat.
  • Keep both your arms slightly away from each other with your palms facing upwards.
  • Keep your legs slightly away from each other.
  • Turn your head to the left side.

Now, having yourself set in the perfect posture, lose the sense of your body parts. Feel as if you are floating in the air.

To say in very simpler terms, just forget that you own a body for your soul for the next 15 minutes.

That is all, practice it every day and you will definitely feel the difference.

Benefits of Sun Salutation

Benefits of Sun Salutation
Benefits of Sun Salutation, Image Courtesy: Gym Buddy Now

Sun Salutation is a very simple routine as you have seen. But it incorporates powerful asanas which together offer you immense health benefits.

Here are the various health benefits of Sun Salutation.

Toning and loosening up muscles and joints

Sun Salutation postures involve stretching muscles and joints.

This helps in toning and loosening up muscles and joints in various parts of your body.

In particular, the abdominal region as a whole, legs, hands, shoulders, spine, and stomach region are highly benefited.

Reduces body disorders

Sun Salutation keeps a check of the respiratory, circulatory, reproductive, and endocrine systems.

If you are a woman and still not practicing Sun Salutation, I would highly recommend you to start with it now. It is going to give you a whole lot of positive experiences.

Sun Salutation for weight loss

Here we are, the main issue of the current and so-called modern generation – obesity or excessive body weight.

Sun Salutation can even help you with weight loss.

I will cover this alone in a single separate post, so that, you can reap maximum benefits.

Other benefits:

  • Sun Salutation improves general body strength and body endurance significantly (Source).
  • Sun Salutation can help you overcome hair loss as it increases blood circulation to your head.
  • One important benefit of Sun Salutation is that it activates the Surya Nadi which is one of the main channels of energy in the body.
  • You will feel a better YOU as Surya Namaskar eliminates laziness.
  • It keeps your mind alert at all times.
  • As a personal experience, I must say, Sun Salutation coupled with meditation helps you reduce frequent burst of anger.

Who should refrain from practicing Sun Salutation?

Though Sun Salutation is easier to perform, as it involves stretching and bending, some must refrain from doing it.

If you are someone with a hip injury, knee injury, or spine injury, either take caution while doing Sun Salutation or kindly stay away from it. Injury as here refers to a small ailment to major surgery.

Can pregnant women practice Sun Salutation?

Sun Salutation for Pregnant Women
Sun Salutation for Pregnant Women

Coming to the most frequently asked question, Can pregnant women practice Sun Salutation?

The answer is – YES!!!! Pregnant yogis can practice Sun Salutation.

It is incredibly good, particularly, for pregnant women who carry an extra soul.

However, avoid putting extra pressure on your stomach. Do it as if you are a very new beginner.

To keep it much more simple, I will cover a modified version of Sun Salutation for Pregnant yogis in a separate article very soon.

The Bottom Line

So, I think I have covered everything about Sun Salutation in detail and this should pitch start your Yogic life perfectly.

If you found this post helpful, leave a comment below as to how it helped you personally. I would be very happy to know about it.

Let the Sun God shower blessings on every one of us!

Hazel Pereira

Monday 2nd of January 2023

Perfectly explained the benefits physically and mentally.

sanjeevan Netralaya

Friday 23rd of September 2022

Hello Sir

Sir I am very happy to read the information you have provided, I have sent the same information to my friends and they also like it.

thank you


Friday 23rd of September 2022

Wow, That was a lovely comment from you, Sanjeevan.

Thanks for stopping by to read the post and sharing it with your friends upon liking it.

Sharanappa Mundaragi

Sunday 11th of October 2020

I really appreciate your complete information about the sun salutation which makes us young and energetic. Thanks


Sunday 12th of July 2020

I learnt the right way of breathing along with the mantra today. I’m looking for peace strength and calmness. Thank you


Sunday 28th of June 2020

I love this. I learned that there's more to Sun Salutations than just a sequence of poses. Now, my sun salutations have a deeper meaning and I believe this will help me generate more positive energy for my body and mind. Thank you so much for this!

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