Known variously as Surya Namskar or Prostrations to Sun or Sun Salutation, the Surya Namaskar is one of the best exercises that people can perform. The benefits accruing from these exercises are unique and excellent. This is a yoga based exercise and it is customary to perform Surya Namaskar after performing loosening yoga exercises.
The human being can be thought of consisting of ‘pancha kosas’ (or five sheaths) consisting of the Annamaya (or Body), Pranamaya (or Breath), Manomaya (or Mind), Vijnanamaya (or Intellect) and Anandamaya (or Bliss) sheaths. These same five kosas can be further grouped into Gross (or Sthula), the Annamaya or body sheath, Subtle (or Sukshma) consisting of the pranic, mental and intellectual sheaths and the Causal (or Karana), the Bliss sheath. Properly performed Surya Namaskar impacts and influences all five sheaths – the body, the breath, the mind, the intellect and the bliss – thus providing to the performers of these exercises the benefits for the Sthula (Gross), Sukshma (subtle) and Kaarana (Causal) bodies. Whereas conventional exercises of all forms including aerobic, weight lifting, walking, jogging and running are designed to provide benefits to the physical body and its various component organs including joints and muscles, Surya Namaskar provides benefits of a holistic nature by working on the physical body, praana (breathing), mind, intellect and the bliss components (or kosas) of the entire human personality. In that sense, Surya Namaskar can be considered to be a personality development tool and must be included as part of one’s wellness program
The Surya Namaskar is performed usually early in the morning facing the morning rising Sun. The Namskar is done in 12 steps, each step having its own posture (including position and form) with its own breathing pattern (inhalation or exhalation), and its own mantra.