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Sculpture of the 12 asanas of Surya Namaskar in Indira Gandhi Airport, Delhi.[1]

Surya Namaskar (Sanskrit: सूर्यनमस्कार IAST: Sūrya Namaskār), Salute to the Sun or Sun Salutation, is a practice in modern yoga incorporating a sequence of some twelve gracefully linked asanas.[2][3] The asana sequence is first recorded in the early 20th century. The basic sequence involved moving from a standing position into Downward and Upward Dog poses and then back to the standing position, but many variations are possible.


Etymology and originsEdit

Sun Salutation at a public yoga event

The name Surya Namaskar is from the Sanskrit सूर्य Sūrya, "Sun" and नमस्कार Namaskār, "Greeting" or "Salute".[4] The name identifies the sun as the soul and source of all life.[5]

The asana sequence is first recorded in the early 20th century. Patinidhi Pant, the Rajah of Aundh, (1868–1951; in office 1909-1947) popularized[6][7] and named the practice,[8] and may well have invented it, despite his claim that it was already a commonplace Marathi tradition.[9] Norman Sjoman suggested that Krishnamacharya used the traditional Indian wrestlers' exercises called dands (Sanskrit: दण्ड daṇḍ, a staff), described in the 1896 Vyayama Dipika,[10] as the basis for the sequence and for his yoga vinyasas.[11] Different dands closely resemble the Surya Namaskar asanas Tadasana, Padahastasana, Caturanga Dandasana, and Bhujangasana.[11] Krishnamacharya was aware of Surya Namaskar, as regular classes, not then considered to be yoga, were held in the hall adjacent to his Yogasala in the Rajah of Mysore's palace. His students K. Pattabhi Jois,[12] who created modern day Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga,[13] and B. K. S. Iyengar, who created Iyengar Yoga, both learnt Surya Namaskar and flowing vinyasa movements between asanas from Krishnamacharya and used them in their styles of yoga.[14]

Ancient but simpler sun salutations such as Aditya Hridayam, described in the "Yuddha Kaanda" Canto 107 of the Ramayana,[15][16][17] are not related to the modern sequence.[18]


Surya Namaskar is a sequence of around twelve asanas connected by jumping or stretching movements, varying somewhat between schools. In Iyengar Yoga, the basic sequence is Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Uttanasana with head up, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, and then reversing the sequence to return to Tadasana; other poses can be inserted into the sequence.[4] In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, the type 1 sequence is Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Anjaneyasana, Dandasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Virabhadrasana I.[19]

A typical Surya Namaskar cycle is:

1: Pranamasana
2: Hasta Uttanasana
3. Uttanasana
12: back to 1
4. Anjaneyasana
11. Hasta Uttanasana

5. Adho Mukha Svanasana
10. Uttanasana
6. Ashtanga Namaskara
9. Anjaneyasana,
opposite foot
8. Adho Mukha
7.Urdhva Mukha


Many variations are possible. For example, In Iyengar Yoga the sequence may run Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Lolasana, Janusirsasana (one side, then the other), and reversing the sequence from Adho Mukha Svanasana to return to Tadasana. Other asanas that may be inserted into the sequence include Navasana (or Ardha Navasana), Paschimottanasana and its variations, and Marichyasana I.[4]


  1. ^ "Destination Delhi". Indian Express. 4 September 2010.
  2. ^ Carol Mitchell (2003). Yoga on the Ball. Inner Traditions. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-89281-999-7.
  3. ^ Jane MacMullen (1988). Yoga Journal: Ashtanga Yoga. September/October. Active Interest. pp. 68–70.
  4. ^ a b c Mehta 1990, pp. 146-147.
  5. ^ Krishan Kumar Suman (2006). Yoga for Health and Relaxation. Lotus. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-81-8382-049-3.
  6. ^ Singleton 2010, pp. 180–181, 205–206.
  7. ^ S. P. Sen, Dictionary of National Biography; Institute of Historical Studies, Calcutta 1972 Vols. 1-4; Institute of Historical Studies, Vol 3, page 307
  8. ^ Alter 2000, p. 99.
  9. ^ Singleton 2010, p. 124.
  10. ^ Bharadwaj, S. (1896). Vyayama Dipika | Elements of Gymnastic Exercises, Indian System. Bangalore: Caxton Press. pp. Chapter 2.
  11. ^ a b Sjoman 1999, p. 54.
  12. ^ Donahaye, Guy (2010). Guruji: A Portrait of Sri K Pattabhi Jois Through The Eyes of His Students. USA: D&M Publishers. ISBN 978-0-86547-749-0.
  13. ^ Ramaswami 2005, pp. 213-219.
  14. ^ Singleton 2010, p. 175-210.
  15. ^ Master Murugan, Chillayah (20 October 2012). "Surya Namaskara -Puranic origins of Valmiki Ramayana". Silambam. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2013.[not in citation given]
  16. ^, Aditya Hrudayam with English translation
  17. ^ Translation of Ramayana by Griffith
  18. ^ Mujumdar 1950.
  19. ^ "Surya Namaskar Variations: How it is done in these 3 popular yoga traditions". Times of India. 23 June 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2019.


External linksEdit