This is a form of stretching exercise; a complete yoga sequence. Regular Surya Namaskar helps increases the body’s flexibility. It can foster mental peace as well. Yoga experts advice on performing the exercise while facing the rising sun and on an empty stomach, preferably early in the morning.
Surya Namaskar entails 12 steps; the entire sequence of which should be performed at one stretch. The exercise can be repeated, however, do not do more than 12 rounds at a go. Start with a minimum of three rounds and then slowly increase if you wish (Box3).
Dr B.R. Doddamani, Head, Department of physiology, M.R. Medical College, Gulbarga, Karnataka, and his colleagues tested efficacy of regular practice of Surya Namaskar in improving the cardio-respiratory fitness on 78 people (48 men and 30 women). It was observed that 6 months of Surya Namaskar practice decreased the resting pulse rate and BP of participants.
At the same time Suryanamaskars also elevated the cardio respiratory functioning of the heart. This was evaluated by bicycle ergometry and various lung function tests, in both men and women. The researchers concluded with the findings that Surya Namaskar practice can be prescribed to patients to improve their cardio-respiratory efficiency.
Steps in Yoga Suryanamaskar
(As described by Yogacharya Dr. Surakshit Goswami)
1.Pranam asana—Stand erect and face the sun-join your heels keeping the front of your feet a few centimeters apart. Join your palms together in a namaskar position at the chest level, keeping your elbows close to your ribs. Close your eyes.
2.Hastauttan Asana—Deep breathe and raise your arms upwards. Slowly stretch your hands backwards, beyond your head, keeping the elbows straight and bending your torso at the waist. See that your arms touch your ears. Be in this position for as long as you can.
3.Padhast Asana—Exhale slowly; bend forward at your waist and not at the knees. Place your palms on the ground next to your feet. Try bringing your head closer to your knees and touch them with it.
4.Ashwa Sanchalan Asana—With your palms still on the ground breather in and move your left leg as far as possible back from the body. Put the right foot forward, to come to rest between your hands. Raise your head and look as far back as you can. Keep your chest out and breathe in.
5.Parvata asana—While exhaling, taking your right foot back to place it near the left foot. With both feet and both hands pivoted on the ground, raise your hips to form an arch. Align your head with your arms, keeping them straight. Breathe out and lower your body to the floor until the feet, knees, hands, chest and forehead all touch the ground. Your hips should be slightly raised. Breathe normally.
6. Ashtanga Namaskara Asana—Exhale and lower your body to the level of the floor until your feet, knees, hands, chest and forehead touch the ground. Your hips should be slightly raised. Breathe normally.
7.Bhujanga Asana—Rest your stomach on the ground place your hands under your shoulders, palms facing down. Raise your elbows a little. Breathe in and raise your torso slowly. Let your head and chest arch back but do not lift your navel off the floor. Keep your eyes closed and concentrate on your back. Keep your toes and heels joined. Hold on to that position for as long as you can while breathing normally.
8.Parvatha Asana—Lower your head, chest and navel back to the ground. Pivot yourself on both hands and feet and raise your hips to form an arch. Align your hand with your arms, keeping them straight.
9.Ashwa Sanchalan Asana—With your palms still on the ground, breathe in and move your right leg as far back from your body as possible. Push the left foot forward, to come to rest between your hands. Raise your head to look as for back as you can keep your chest out and breathe in.
10.Pashast Asana—Get both your feet together and if possible right beside your palms or close to them with palms on the ground. Now raise your body from the hips, bending only at the waist in such a way that the knees and hands straighten out. Try to touch your knees with your forehead.
11.Hastauttan Asana—Return to upright position and follow procedure as in step2.
12.Pranam Asana—Follow procedure as in step 1.