(Also read: How to do Surya Namaskar: Steps and Benefits)
"Surya Namaskar can be done differently. You can play with the speed at which you perform the postures to achieve varying results. Power yoga involves performing the sun salutation at a very fast pace, this is done to boost endurance and up your stamina significantly. Others might recommend holding every posture for a minute or so to finish doing the entire sequence in about 15 minutes along with deep breathing," shares Yogi Anoop of the Chaitanya Foundation, Mediyoga.
We also spoke to Manisha Kohli from The Yoga Chakra, a Fitness and Yoga Studio in New Delhi, to understand if Surya Namaskar could have variations. "The Ashtanga school of yoga has two versions of the Sun Salutation - version A and B. While the first one has about 9 postures, the second version constitutes of 14 asanas. Type A is perfect for beginners whereas type B includes more strenuous postures like the Warrior Pose to enhance core strength and stamina," noted Manisha.
How to do Surya Namaskar A
Usually you begin by standing in the prayer position with your hands folded and placed right in front of your chest. This is followed by getting into the mountain pose with your hands above your head; then the forward fold; the half forward fold; the four limbed staff posture or the Chaturanga Dandasana; the upward facing dog or the Urdhva Mukha Svanasana; the downward facing dog or the Adho Mukha Svanasana; then repeat the half forward fold, the forward fold, the mountain pose and back to the prayer position.
Photo Credit: Via National Yoga Academy, US
Surya Namaskar is a complete body workout that engages almost all muscle groups of the body. The addition of Warrior pose takes version A a notch higher.
How to do Surya Namaskar B
You begin with the prayer position and get into the awkward chair pose or Utkatasana. Now, repeat the Surya Namaskar A - from the forward fold to the downward facing dog pose. Now, get into The Warrior Pose I and repeat the staff pose, upward facing dog and the downward dog pose. Repeat Virbhadrasana again followed by the staff pose, upward facing dog, the downward dog pose, half forward fold, full forward fold, the awkward chair pose and finally get back to the standing posture with your hands folded in the Namaste position.
Photo Credit: Via National Yoga Academy, US
"Warrior pose I gives a nice stretch to your inner thighs which leads to better secretion of hormones," shares Yogi Anoop. The inclusion of this posture in the sequence really revs up the entire routine giving your stamina a big boost. It is great for your heart and blood circulation and is known to strengthen the stomach, the intestines and the liver. The pose also works on the hamstrings and the abdomen.
Surya Namaskar, in general, is great for blood circulation, weight loss, hormonal balancing and for the overall strengthening of your body. "Those suffering from high blood pressure or heart disease should skip the Warrior pose from the practice as it may cause dizziness," noted Yogi Anoop.
(Also read: How to do Virabhadrasana I (The Warrior Pose): Steps and Benefits)
Both these versions are best practiced early morning. However, if you are pressed for time, you can perform them anytime in the day. Make sure you don't eat anything at least an hour and a half before performing these versions. Do not attempt Surya Namaskar after a heavy meal. Begin by slowly getting into each posture, holding each asana for 3-5 seconds. Once you gain stamina, you can do multiple repetitions of the regime. Get in touch with a certified yoga instructor for more information. Never perform any yogic practice without supervision.
The age-old science of yoga never really have a comeback, it didn't need one. It just flourished and proliferated across the world in a way that along with the traditional practice, fitness experts gave it different makeovers. Over the years, traditional yoga has been fused with many other forms of exercises to achieve a greater level of fitness. Though traditionalists defy such experimentation, modern-age fitness enthusiasts call it a necessity. Interestingly, almost all standard exercises have multiple variations. The idea is to fight plateaus and push the boundaries further to challenge your body like never before. This article is dedicated to one of the most important and fundamental practices of yoga - the Surya Namaskar. While the standard set of postures include 12 asanas, yoga experts believe that the sequence can be tweaked in various ways to arrive at many different versions.