Benefits of Surya Namaskar: How It Transforms Your System
The benefits of Surya Namaskar and Hatha Yoga can be maximized by following a few simple steps during practice. In this post, Sadhguru looks at the surprising role water and sweat play in sadhana.
 
Surya Namaskar – How It Really Works For and Benefits You
 

Sadhguru looks at the impact of Surya Namaskar on the human system, and presents a few simple steps that can maximize its benefits.

सूर्य नमस्कार
சூரிய நமஸ்காரம் செய்யும் அற்புதங்கள்

Sadhguru: Generally, people understand Surya Namaskar as an exercise: it strengthens your back, your muscles, etc. Yes, it definitely does do all that and more. It is quite a complete workout for the physical system – a comprehensive exercise form without any need for equipment. But above all, it is an important tool that empowers human beings to break free from the compulsive cycles and patterns of their lives.

Surya Namaskar: Making the body a stepping-stone

Surya Namaskar means to bow down to the sun in the morning. The sun is the life source for this planet. In everything that you eat, drink and breathe, there is an element of the sun. Only if you learn how to better "digest" the sun, internalize it, and make it a part of your system, do you truly benefit from this process.

The physical body is a fantastic stepping-stone for higher possibilities, but for most people it functions like a road block. The compulsions of the body do not allow them to go forward. Being in sync with the solar cycle is an important part of balance and receptivity, a means of taking the body to the point where it is no longer a hurdle.


 

Surya Namaskar: Syncing with the solar cycle

It is quite a complete workout for the physical system – a comprehensive exercise form without any need for equipment

Surya Namaskar, which is known as "Sun Salutation" in English, is essentially about building a dimension within you where your physical cycles are in sync with the sun’s cycles, which run at about twelve-and-a-quarter years. It is not by accident but by intent that it has been structured with twelve postures or twelve asanas in it. If your system is in a certain level of vibrancy and readiness, and in a good state of receptivity, then naturally your cycle will be in sync with the solar cycle.

Young women have an advantage in that they are also in sync with the lunar cycles. It is a fantastic possibility that your body is both connected to the solar cycle and to the lunar cycle. Nature has granted this advantage to a woman because she has been entrusted with the extra responsibility of propagating the human race. So she has been given some extra privileges. But many people don’t know how to handle the extra energy that is generated by that relationship and so they treat it as a curse and even a kind of madness, as evidenced by the word “lunar” turning into “loony.”


 

Using cycles to go beyond the cyclical

Between the lunar cycle, which is the shortest cycle (a 28-day cycle) and the cycle of the sun, which is over twelve years, there are many other kinds of cycles. The word “cyclical” denotes repetition. Repetition means that in some way it is compulsive. Compulsiveness means it is not conducive for consciousness. If you are very compulsive, you will see that situations, experiences, thoughts and emotions will be cyclical. They keep coming back to you once in six months or eighteen months, three years or six years. If you just look back and see, you will notice this. If they come once in over twelve years, that means your system is in a good state of receptivity and balance. Surya Namaskar is an important process to enable that to happen. The sadhana is always to break the cycle so that there is no more compulsiveness, and you have the right kind of foundation for consciousness.

The physical body is a fantastic stepping-stone for higher possibilities, but for most people it functions like a road block

The repetitive nature of cyclical movements or systems, which we traditionally refer to as samsara, is the necessary stability for the making of life. If it was all at random, it would not be possible to house a steady life-making machine. So, for the solar system and for the individual person, being rooted in cyclic nature is the firmness and steadiness of life. But once life has reached the level of evolution that human beings have reached, it is natural to aspire not just for stability, but for transcendence. Now, it is left to individual human beings either to remain trapped in the cyclical, which is the basis of stable physical existence, or to use these cycles for physical wellbeing and ride them and go beyond the cyclical.

Maximizing the Benefits of Surya Namaskar

Hatha yoga is about creating a body that will not be a hurdle in your life but a stepping stone towards blossoming into your ultimate possibility. There are a few simple things you can do to prepare your body and get the most out of your practice.

  • Bathe in cool water to charge the cellular structure
  • Before starting your practice, take a shower or a bath using water that is a little cooler than room temperature. If a certain volume of water flows over your body, or your body is immersed in water that is cooler than room temperature, the epithelial cells will contract and the intercellular spaces will expand. If you use warm or hot water, the pores of the cells will open up and absorb water – that is not what we want. For the practice of yoga, it is important that the cells contract and the intercellular spaces open up, because we want the cellular structure of the body to be charged with a different dimension of energy. If the cells contract and allow space in between, practicing yoga will charge the cellular structure.

    Why some people seem to be far more alive than others is essentially because their cellular structure is more charged. When it is charged with energy, it will remain youthful for a very long time. Hatha yoga is a way to do that. In South India, tap water is generally just a little cooler than room temperature. If you are in a temperate climate, the regular tap water may be too cold. Three to five degrees centigrade below room temperature would be ideal. A maximum of ten degrees centigrade below room temperature would be acceptable – the water should not be colder than that.


     

  • Rub sweat into the skin to retain energy
  • Whether you practice asanas, Surya Namaskar or Surya Kriya – if you start sweating, do not wipe off the sweat with a towel – always rub it back, at least into the exposed parts of your skin. If you wipe off the sweat, you drain the energy that you have generated with the practice. Water has the capability to carry memory and energy. That is why you should not wipe off sweat with a towel, drink water, or go to the bathroom during practice time, unless there is a special situation that makes it absolutely necessary.

    And, after practicing yoga, wait a minimum of 1.5 hours before taking a shower – three hours would be even better. Sweating and not showering for two to three hours could be a bit of an olfactory challenge – so just stay away from others!

  • Learn to consume the right amount of water
  • After practicing yoga, wait a minimum of 1.5 hours before taking a shower

    Learn to just drink as much as the body needs. Unless you are in a desert or you have habits that dehydrate you – such as excessive consumption of caffeine and nicotine – there is no need to constantly sip water. About 70% of the body is water. The body knows how to manage itself. If you drink according to your thirst plus an additional 10%, it will be enough. To give an example – if your thirst is gone after two sips of water, drink 10% more. That will take care of your body’s need for water. Only if you are out in the sun or trekking in the mountains, sweating heavily and losing water rapidly, you need to drink more – not when you are doing yoga under a roof.

    As I already said, rub back the sweat as much as possible, but you need not do that all the time. It can drip a bit – just don’t use a towel. Push it back because we don’t want to drain energy – we want to build it up.

    From Surya Namaskar to Surya Kriya

     

     
    Through the practice of Surya Namaskar, if one attains a certain level of stability and mastery over the system, one could then be introduced to a more powerful and spiritually significant process called Surya Kriya. Surya Kriya is the fundamental process. Surya Namaskar is a "country cousin" of Surya Kriya, and there is another process called Surya Shakti, which is a far-off relative. If you want to just use the process as a physical culture to build muscle and become physically strong, you do Surya Shakti. If you want to be physically fit but also want some spiritual element in it, you do Surya Namaskar. But if you want a strong spiritual process, you do Surya Kriya.

    Editor’s Note: Isha Hatha Yoga offers classical yoga in its full depth and dimension. Find a teacher near you to sign up for the programs offered.

     
     
      43 Comments
     
     
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    3 years ago

    Hi Gopi, One of my concerns on the water carries memory theory is that though Dr Masaru Emoto proved that water is effected by our intentions by photographing water molecules exposed to different emotions and intentions, he also proved that water that carries dirt with it like sewerage looked the worst under a microscope. The sweat carries a ton of waste out of the body and is full of dirt. It is 'mala' in sanskrit. How can such water ever be beneficial? Could you ask Sadhguru and get me an answer please?
    Thanks so much
    Niranjan

    4 years 3 months ago

    Yoga can be practiced in evening also. After a heavy meal have a gap of atleast 2hrs and you can practice yoga, it needs min 2 hrs for digestion, and this varies depending your age. You can a light snacks give a gap of 15 to 20 min you can practice it. Again you must examine your system, in other words don't practice with stomach full condition.

    3 years 9 months ago

    If u do Shirshasana every day twice ...once in the morning and in the evening, your remaining hair will remain and new hair will grow. Besides this, your hair will not grow white early.

    4 years 5 months ago

    Could you please explain more about water carrying energy and why that energy should be absorbed back into the body as opposed to being let go?

    2 years 9 months ago

    There are contrasting reports on how fast or slow Surya namaskar should be done and how many counts should be done. Please throw some light on this - can surya namaskar be done fast? If yes - what is the desired speed and how many rounds should one do? Are there any restrictions by age?

    3 years 11 months ago

    Kumbakonam mahamagham is performed once in twelve years..is that related to solar cycle?
    Sweating is to balance the body temperature...rubbing over the body probably spreads the sweat to control the body temp faster..but I dont understand how it energise...
    How increase in intercellur space charge the cellur wall?
    Need clarification...

    3 years 9 months ago

    yes, i read a research article about that experiment, but that has a lot of control errors, we need to do the same experiment in a more controlled manner and find the truth !

    4 years 5 months ago

    Great Inputs, will follow all these to maximum outcome of Surya namaskara.

    2 years 9 months ago

    Kapalbhati is an energizing pranayama that heats up the body. From personal experience, I have found that Anulom Vilom (another pranayama) after Kapalbhati is required to cool down the body. Anulom Vilom also quietens the mind, getting it ready for meditation (try Anulom Vilom for 10-20 rounds and immediately try to get into meditation and see how easy it goes). I am no expert, but it worked for me.

    3 years 9 months ago

    can someone suggst me how to regrow hair my hair r shedding and i m still 23.there r many technique like nail rubbing and sheerasana but nothing is working on me

    3 years 9 months ago

    yes. the solar flares in sun will reach a maximum once in 12 years. It has a distinctive 11 - 12 year cycle called the solar cycle .

    4 years 5 months ago

    Are there certain times of the day when it is best to practice suryanamaskars/yogasanas?

    2 years 7 months ago

    can i have food after doing yoga...

    3 years 9 months ago

    surya kriya is not to be practiced between 9:00 AM and 3:30 PM . any other time is ok, as per guru who taught me

    3 years 9 months ago

    asana, pranayama, dhyana

    4 years 5 months ago

    Namasakaram,

    It's best to do Suryanamaskar in the morning.. that is the time when you are well rested and can make use of the energy you gain through this practice which will help you be charged through out the day! But if you miss out on the morning, you can do the practice anytime before 11 PM. Do make sure you maintain an empty stomach condition i.e., you should not have eaten anything for 4 hours straight although consuming water in that 4 hours is alright. :)

    2 years 5 months ago

    How do we take cold shower on coldest weather conditions(where temperatures remain below 10'C during winters and stay below 17'C in other seasons). ? Does that still help taking cold showers in those weather conditions? Appreciate the advice on this. Thanks.

    3 years 9 months ago

    this is very useful and good information, particularly about the cool water bathing before yoga.....thank you and namaste !

    3 years 8 months ago

    hey! what are the benefits of suryanamaskar.

    2 years 5 months ago

    Sorry anna, the correct procedure 5-6 hours after a full meal, 2-3 hours after a snack, 1hour after cigrett or coffee.

    3 years 9 months ago

    Regular Yoga and pranayama for a minimum of 6 months should help, provided there is no physical ailments.

    3 years 6 months ago

    in sheersasana....on a particular part of head too much pressure is applied.... so in that pressure part, hair may shed there more.... hair will grow well but in other parts..... suryanamaskar and pranayama must work well... moreover eat gooseberry, muringa leaf, curry leaf etc..... convert to organic foods mainly....

    4 years 5 months ago

    If one has to do walking, cold water bath as Sadhguru has said, yoga, pranayam and Shambhavi Mudra in the morning, what should be sequence? Can Yoga be practised in the evenings? Can one have some small snacks or milk a few minutes before yoga?

    2 years 5 months ago

    Yes after hatha yoga(surya kriya, angamardhana etc) Its best to drink water or take food after 1-2 hours.

    3 years 9 months ago

    What are the 16 postures for Surya Namaskara

    3 years 2 months ago

    Hi All,

    The tumultuous experience was a part of my journey that drove me to realize new forms of learning. I formulated my thoughts and ideas with grace and conviction. The search for my truth revealed an inner invulnerable strength of spirit which was at first, incomprehensible even to myself. From where was my courage to stand against the oppression coming from? Realizing the inner being is neither an easy, nor a light hearted exercise, although it does have its lighter moments, as one realizes that we give tyrants more credit than they deserve in oppressing us! We allow ourselves to be oppressed as we are passive in our acceptance of their ill-deserved authority. If we lose our sense of the inner being, we are likely to succumb to a tyrant’s will.

    Autonomy of ones’ spiritual inner self is imperative to realize true freedom. New meditations on ones inner being is the way to inner peace, I realized in the depths of my loneliness during my tribulations. Under house arrest and detention, I gave pause to redouble my efforts at realizing my inner being. This learning experience taught much to my untrained inner being as I endeavored to re-learn and reevaluated the purpose of my life to discover the true self as I spoke without fear and with strong conviction and belief in defense of freedom. I was heartened and enamored by with the discovery that others’ were equally strong in their convictions and open to my idea of freedom as we learn to speak with a new voice that is both strong as well as tolerant of others; that is humble, yet knowing of others’ weaknesses. Detachment from the ignorance of others allows us to delve deeply into our inner capacity to define and experience our inner blissful state in self-realization. Renewal of spirit comes alive in our search as we discover who we really are.

    Upon realizing the true self, we express the natural genius and open our minds to feel the flow of life energy as it courses through us. By experiencing the life form in its true creative genius we connect to
    our body, mind and spirit as it was meant to be. The learning from our inner experience in meditation allows us to know who we are. In meditation, we reevaluate life and are inspire ourselves to experience more fully our best selves.

    Have a good day!

    4 years 5 months ago

    can somebody tell exactly before what time should we do suryakriya in the morning....since we cant do once the sun is out ?

    2 years 3 months ago

    "Surya Namaskar, is
    essentially about building a dimension within you where your physical
    cycles are in sync with the sun’s cycles,
    which run at about twelve-and-a-quarter years. It is not by accident
    but by intent that it has been structured with twelve postures or twelve
    asanas in it. If your system is in a certain level of vibrancy and
    readiness, and in a good state of receptivity, then naturally your cycle
    will be in sync with the solar cycle."

    3 years 9 months ago

    Science of the spirit n d body.. We hv to practice it to experience it.. Thnx Sadhguru

    3 years 2 months ago

    It is adviced to wash your hair prior to yoga

    4 years 5 months ago

    Depends on what practices you are doing. Generally it is best to do yoga when the sun isnt hot, i.e before 8am and after 4pm. Of course for Indian summers this may vary. :)
    If you are doing suryanamaskar, asanas etc, you should keep an empty stomach. Atleast 4 hrs shud pass if you have had a heavy meal and 2 hrs for light meals and 1/2 hr for juice etc.

    2 years 3 months ago

    "Between the lunar cycle, which is the shortest cycle (a 28-day cycle)
    and the cycle of the sun, which is over twelve years, there are many
    other kinds of cycles. The word “cyclical” denotes repetition.
    Repetition means that in some way it is compulsive. Compulsiveness means
    it is not conducive for consciousness. If you are very compulsive, you
    will see that situations, experiences, thoughts and emotions will be
    cyclical. They keep coming back to you once in six months or eighteen
    months, three years or six years. If you just look back and see, you
    will notice this. If they come once in over twelve years, that means
    your system is in a good state of receptivity and balance. Surya
    Namaskar is an important process to enable that to happen. The sadhana
    is always to break the cycle so that there is no more compulsiveness,
    and you have the right kind of foundation for consciousness."

    3 years 9 months ago

    Surya namaskar, kapalbhati Pranayam and meditation. I am trying to form an habit doing these in the mornings before 6 am. What should be the sequence. Thankyou for the response.

    3 years 1 month ago

    What is this shirshasana... I have learnt Upa yoga, suriyaKriya, sakthichalana Kriya and shambavi... Does it come under hataYoga?

    4 years 5 months ago

    Haven't heard of such specific instructions. Generally it is best to do yoga
    when the sun isnt hot, i.e before 8am and after 4pm. Of course for
    Indian summers this may vary. :)

    3 years 9 months ago

    "Water has memory". This reminds me of a Book "13 things that don't make sense". One of the things mentioned is Water. Our understanding of this simple element is still at infantile state. One British scientist has so far categorized several planes in which water molecules can arrange themselves giving them distinct properties. Chemically it is still H2O however molecular structure arranged in various planes, like crystals changes the minute properties

    3 years ago

    Pardon my ignorance but I do not question the validity of Surya namaskara as healthy stretch. I am trying to understand the higher plane that the article is trying to connect me to. Though the heading looks very promising, the article is very superficial. What do the sun'c cycles exactly mean? (The link given here does not state much either. Any references outside this website would do wonders). What are the epochs of those circles? What happens in each?
    For example, is it about the seasonal changes that take place due to earth's revolution? How does each Surya namaskara pose map to each Solar month? How does the mantra for a particular pose correspond to an epoch in the sun cycle? What do body cycles mean?
    How does performing a cyclical exercise help me transcend the cyclicals?

    4 years 5 months ago

    Best time for doing yoga early morning , empty stomach or drink some water or green tea or black tea, this is helpful to reduce your calories.

    1 year 11 months ago

    Would be very useful if moderators or others can share their thoughts on my comment.