“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.” –B.K.S lyengar
What is Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation?
Surya Namaskar in its literal meaning is also known as ‘Sun Salutation’. It is an ancient technique of expressing gratitude to the sun, a source to all forms of life on the planet. Therefore, Surya Namaskar is a form of worship to the Sun God, Surya.
Symbolically, the sun is our source of energy as well. The sages believe and hence, it is true that without the sun, there will be no life on earth.
Surya Namaskar is one of the most complete practices of hatha yoga.
Therefore, the practice of this asana has a great energizing effect on the body, prana, and mind. In the Vedic tradition, the sun is symbolic of consciousness and, therefore, Sun is worshipped daily in the Indian culture.
Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is also known as the King of Yoga Poses because it consists of a series of yoga poses. There are 12 yoga poses in the sequence. Each of the 12 poses has a specific mantra that describes the glory of the Sun-God, Surya.
Therefore, Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is ideally best to do in the morning during sunrise, facing the rising sun. Most important is that you can also practice these asanas/poses during sunset, facing the setting sun.
However, there are multiple questions that arise among many of you but one very frequently asked question is,
What is the best time to do Sun Salutation/Surya Namaskar?
If you are a beginner and highly inquisitive to know more about Surya Namaskar, this article will answer all your queries and woes.
How to do Surya Namaskar?
How many rounds of the pose, can I do at one time?
Can I Practice Sun Salutations in the evening?
Should my night time yoga practice consist of restorative poses only?
When you start any yoga practice, it is important to do Sun Salutation/Surya Namaskar the right way and thus, you must know the important facts in order to get the best results.
Must-know for Sun Salutation beginners
Why do Sun Salutation?
This is probably the first question that comes to mind for most of you. Sun Salutation is important for two reasons.
- Firstly, it is a great workout for the whole body. Sun Salutation has benefits like stretching, flexing and toning the muscles. It is an excellent exercise for weight loss as well. Hence, it offers numerous health benefits beyond physical ailments by relaxing and calming the mind and leading to an energized state of being.
- Secondly, Sun Salutation gives you an opportunity to express gratitude to the sun, without which life on earth would be impossible. It helps you to welcome the new day by paying homage to the sun.
What is the best time to do Sun Salutation?
Ideally, it is a good idea to do Surya Namaskar early morning at sunrise, on an empty stomach preferably before 6 A.M. Therefore, traditionally, you perform the series of poses facing the Sun in the East within the first hour of Sun rising.
However, due to the frantic urban lifestyle, it may not be possible for you to practice Surya Namaskar early in the morning. Therefore, you can practice sun salutation as per your convenience.
Also, make sure your stomach is empty before you start practicing. For better results, turn your mat towards the east (as if facing the sun), and practice with the right breathing technique.
Why is it preferred to practice Sun Salutation in the morning?
Every morning at dawn, the air is full of prana shakti or life energy. The atmosphere also has powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays that keep away any skin and bone problems. Similarly, the early rays of the sun generate Vitamin-D for your body.
Thus, perform yoga, facing east during the first rays of the morning sun, breathing correctly and chanting the mantras. You will experience a phenomenal effect on your mind, body, and spirit.
Practicing Sun Salutation benefits every part of your body, every organ, and every chakra. Consequently, it helps you to connect with your inner core strength.
Can I do Sun Salutation in the evening?
You can practice Sun Salutation at sunrise or sunset.
Yes, of course, you can do Surya Namaskar either before or at sunset or after 6 in the evening. However, make sure you practice on an empty stomach. Keep a gap of 5 hours after lunch, provided no food is taken in between those hours.
Note – DO NOT practice yoga just immediately after your meal!
If the moon is visible, you can also practice Moon Salutation (Chandra Namaskar) which is a variation of the Sun Salutation pose.
The difference between the two poses is that Surya Namaskar stimulates and warms your body, unlike Moon Salutation that is more cooling, meditative and receptive to the body.
During the Sun Salutation practice, you must move from one pose to another quickly, while in the Moon Salutation, the poses are done slowly.
Can I do Surya Namaskar after meals?
It is not advisable to do Surya Namaskar immediately after meals because your whole body, especially your intestines, stomach, and internal organs undergoes through a strenuous stretch. Thus, they need a good rest as your body is in a warm state of being.
This will prevent any internal problems and conflicts for the body.
Also, it is advisable not to perform any kind of physical activity just after eating. This will cause indigestion and vomiting.
Where should I do Surya Namaskar?
There is no restriction to the place of practice. Therefore, you can practice either in the outdoors among nature, facing the Sun or in a well-lit room facing the East.
However, it is advised to practice Sun Salutation in the outdoors, basking in the morning sunlight. This sunlight absorbs within your body and increases the melatonin levels. Moreover, it is this hormone that helps you to get rid of morning fatigue and sleepiness.
What is the ideal number of Surya NamaskarS?
Ideally, Surya Namaskar is done in sets. This will ensure that both sides of the body are equally used.
Therefore, it is a good idea to do at least 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar daily. One set consists of two rounds that are 6 rounds with your right leg and 6 rounds with your left leg.
However, if you are a beginner to Surya Namaskar, start with 2 to 4 rounds daily. Gradually, as you get comfortable with the pose, you can do up to 12 rounds daily. When you become a pro at this pose and your body is comfortable, you can even do 108 rounds ideally.
Surya Namaskar practice is slow but with great concentration, it will lead to the desired benefits. Thus, try not to do this pose in a haste, as you may injure yourself.
Facts on Surya Namaskar
- When you do 12 rounds of Sun Salutation steps from both sides, you are doing 288 poses. How amazing is that! There is nothing better than doing 288 asanas in just 20 minutes. Hence, this is a complete workout for your body.
- Doing one round of Surya Namaskar burns approximately 13.90 calories. So, just imagine how many calories will you burn with 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar?
- Also, when you begin doing 108 rounds of the same pose, you will lose numerous amounts of calories. That is why Surya Namaskar for weight loss is highly recommended.
Is Sun Salutation alone, sufficient enough?
Although Sun Salutation is a complete body workout, it is, however, advised to top it up with other more intense yoga poses for a complete fitness experience.
Thus, start your yoga session with Kapalbhati Pranayam and Anuloma Viloma breathing exercises to bring your mind to concentrate on yourself.
Then, start with Surya Namaskar pose. Thereafter, you can perform various yoga poses such as Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), and many others.
However, end your yoga session with Shavasana (Corpse Pose) to bring your body to a state of relaxation and recovery.
To achieve the desired results, ensure that you practice Sun Salutation regularly and with dedication.
To know the 12 Poses of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), please read our article on How to do Surya Namaskar. This article demonstrates the yoga pose in detailed steps with pictures and a video.
- Sacrificing the breath and concentration on the movements are more.
- Barely lifting the spine in the half lift.
- Dropping the lower spine in the plank pose.
- Getting mixed up between cobra and upward-facing dog pose.
- Do not move the foot forward while doing the low lunge.
Who should avoid doing Surya Namaskar?
- Pregnant women should not practice this asana after their third month of pregnancy.
- Patients of Hernia, high blood pressure, coronary diseases, and strokes are warned against this asana.
- If you suffer from chronic backaches, spondylitis, and sciatica then you should seek proper advice before commencing Surya Namaskar.
- Women during their menses should avoid performing Surya Namaskar.
In conclusion, yes, it is absolutely safe to practice Sun Salutation pose in the morning and evening. However, make sure to face the rising and setting sun, while performing the yoga pose.
Surya Namaskar for beginners is highly recommended by all yoga experts. Why so? This esteem yoga pose brings about grace, mindfulness, and peace within your mind and body. It stretches every part of your body internally and externally to the extent of healing and curing all kinds of ailments.
Surya Namaskar helps you to find a connection between your body, mind, and breath that will set you up for a supercharged up day.