The Surya Namaskar is among the primary yogic practices. It is hugely popular among yoga practitioners even today. The practice of Surya Namaskar is meant to channel the energy of the cosmos - the sun, in particular - into the body of the yogi. In line with this, Surya Namaskar is to be ideally practised in the early mornings.
The Surya Namaskar comprises 12 steps - these can be identified as 10 distinct asanas.
The First Position
Stand erect. Face the east, so that you are facing the direction of the rising sun.
Ensure that your feet are close together. Keep your knees straight.
Breathe evenly. Exhale slowly.
Fold your arms to bring your palms together at your chest level, as if in prayer.
The Second Position
Raise your arms over your head and keep them stretched.
Arch backwards gradually.
The Third Position
Bend forward from your waist, moving your outstretched arms downwards as you do.
Let both your palms touch the floor on either side of your feet. Keep your arms straight at the elbows.
You must bend forward till your forehead touches your knees.
The Fourth Position
Stretch your right leg backwards till you are squatting down over your left foot.
Allow your right knee to rest on the floor.
Keep your chin raised.
The Fifth Position
Hold your breath.
Let your arms bear the weight of your body and slowly stretch your left leg backwards.
Now, your body must form a plank.
The Sixth Position
Bend your legs so that your knees drop to the floor.
Lower your chest until it touches the floor too.
Ensure that your abdomen and hips are still raised.
Let your forehead rest on the floor.
The Seventh Position
Lift your head off the floor.
Slide your body forward and upward by arching your back. You should appear like a cobra poised to strike.
Allow your elbows to bend but keep your palms firmly on the floor.
Your body should remain on the floor from the hips down.
The Eighth Position
Raise your hips while keeping your head down, between your arms.
Your torso should move backwards and upwards while your arms and feet are placed firmly on the floor.
Your body is in the shape of an inverted “V” now.
The Ninth Position
Bring your right leg forward so that your right foot rests between your hands.
Lift your head up simultaneously.
Notice that this position is similar to the fourth.
The Tenth Position
Bring your left leg forward so that your left foot too rests between your hands.
Simultaneously, touch your knees with your forehead.
Ensure that your neck is relaxed.
Notice that this posture is similar to the third position.
The Eleventh Position
Straighten your body out slowly.
Keep your arms outstretched so that they are over your head now with your fingers pointing upwards.
Slowly bend backward in a gentle arch and let your arms bend too.
Notice that this posture is similar to the second position.
The Twelfth Position
Straighten your torso and arms back up till you are standing erect.
Lower your arms till your fingers point downwards.
Allow your body to relax.
Notice that you have now come back to the first position.
The Surya Namaskar functions as an effective exercise as well. It combines many postures and hence renders the body flexible with practice.