Body, Workout Plans
Ashtanga yoga suryanamaskar guide

Eddie Stern

Ashtanga Yoga Teacher, Author & Lecturer from New York City

5 min read

 

How to do the south Indian version of surya namaskar
Eddie Stern
Today we are going to do the Surya Namaskar which is an ancient practice of the yogic tradition. There are different types of Surya Namaskar – some that are done in the north of India and some that are done in the south, which have different characteristics. Today, I’ll be teaching you a South Indian version of the Surya Namaskar that I learnt from my guru ji(s) Pattabhi Jois and guru ji Sharath Jois. Whenever UR doing these practices you should ensure UR doing three things all the time:
1)Moving with awareness
2)Breathing freely
3)Not feeling any discomfort
Stretching a muscle and strengthening a muscle might require effort and you feel discomfort only if UR distorting the first two things. If you have discomfort which is pain, you won’t be able to breathe freely and you will stop moving with awareness because you will be so concerned with UR pain! So if you feel that level of discomfort you need to stop and rest or do less of that position.
As with all exercises, it’s best to have a teacher present to help guide you. When you don’t have a teacher, it’s ok to try to use videos. But you have to pay a lot of attention to UR own body and to UR own capacity. OK let’s begin!
The first Surya Namaskar has nine vinyasas. Vinyasa means breath and movement together.

First Vinyasa

Inhale and place UR hands over UR head.

Second Vinyasa
Exhale and place UR hands right down by UR sides

Third Vinyasa

Tighten UR hips a little and reach UR hands forward and exhale. Bend down. Bring UR head close to UR legs; bend UR knees as much as you need to get UR hands on the floor. Inhale with UR head up. Stay here and exhale.
Repeat first and second Vinyasa
Tighten UR belly – stand up and reach UR arms over UR head. Exhale and bring UR arms out to UR sides.

Fourth Vinyasa

Inhale and move UR arms forward and up like in the first Vinayasa. Tighten UR hips and like a swan dive, exhale and open UR chest and come down. Rest UR head down towards UR legs and place UR hands flat on the floor.

Fifth Vinyasa
Inhale with chest up

Sixth Vinyasa
Exhale, jump back and lower down

Seventh Vinyasa
Inhale and get into the upward facing dog position

Eight Vinyasa
Exhale and get into the downward facing dog position. Breathe with sound 5 times.

Ninth Vinyasa
Bend UR knees and look at UR hands. Inhale, hop UR feet forward, lift UR chest up straightening UR legs. Exhale and bend UR head down.
Repeat first and second Vinyasa
Inhale and stand up with UR hands over UR head. Exhale and stand in the samasthiti position. Take a long inhale and a long exhale.
After you do UR Surya Namaskar or any other asanas, complete it by getting into a half lotus or full lotus position or even into a sukhasana position. Any position you like. We’ll start with the half lotus position today

•Hold UR wrist behind UR back. Exhale and bend UR head down towards the floor
•Inhale and sit back up. Put your hands behind you (palms flat on the floor)
•Lengthen UR lower spine, lift UR chest up and gently rest UR head back.
•If you have any neck discomfort, keep UR chin towards your collarbone and continue to lift UR chest up. This position helps to open UR lungs for deep breathing.
•Push off from UR hands and keep UR hands on UR knees. The back of UR hands should be on UR knees; close UR thumb and forefinger. Keep UR Spine straight and UR chin down. Breathe slowly 10 times. Breathe with sound in UR nose and UR throat.
•If UR in half lotus with the sukhasana, you can change UR legs but if UR in the full lotus position – don’t change UR legs – you’ll just be doing UR right first. And if UR in full lotus for all this, there will be one more pose that you can do at the end.
•While still in the half lotus pose with the sukhasana – put your left leg on top. Hold onto your opposite wrist – exhale and bend down. Breathe 10 times.
•Now come into the full lotus position if UR able to do it. If UR unable to do full lotus, just keep UR legs crossed. In full lotus padmasana, keep UR hands on the floor next to UR thighs and lift yourself off the ground for 10 breaths.
If you are not able to do a full lotus – just cross UR legs and lift yourself off the floor for 10 breaths. (Your legs don’t have to be lifted off the ground).
This concludes the Surya Namaskar – the first type, along with the 3 finishing poses and udbuthihi, the deep breathing which helps to calm the mind and give you a little bit of a meditative state at the end of your practice.
•Now lie down on UR back for two minutes stretching UR legs out in front of you. Rest flat down. Some people are a bit more comfortable with their feet resting flat on the floor. Keep UR knees together if you have any lower back pain. Otherwise, rest with UR legs in front of you for 2 minutes.

When UR ready to bring yourself back up, you can lengthen UR inhale and lengthen UR exhale, wriggle UR fingers and toes and move UR ankles and wrists around a little bit – pull UR knees into UR chest and hug UR knees for a moment. Rock yourself up to a seated position with UR hands folded in front of you. Say ‘Om Shanti’ three times to conclude.
The most important thing about yoga, meditation or any devotional practice or contemplated practice you do is to do it with regularity because that’s when you begin to see change and transformation in UR life.

Today we are going to do the Surya Namaskar which is an ancient practice of the yogic tradition. There are different types of Surya Namaskar – some that are done in the north of India and some that are done in the south, which have different characteristics. Today, I’ll be teaching you a South Indian version of the Surya Namaskar that I learnt from my guru ji(s) Pattabhi Jois and guru ji Sharath Jois. Whenever UR doing these practices you should ensure UR doing three things all the time.

  1. Moving with awareness
  2. Breathing freely
  3. Not feeling any discomfort

Stretching a muscle and strengthening a muscle might require effort and you feel discomfort only if UR distorting the first two things. If you have discomfort which is pain, you won’t be able to breathe freely and you will stop moving with awareness
because you will be so concerned with UR pain! So if you feel that level of discomfort you need to stop and rest or do less of that position.

As with all exercises, it’s best to have a teacher present to help guide you. When you don’t have a teacher, it’s ok to try to use  videos. But you have to pay a lot of attention to UR own body and to UR own capacity. OK let’s begin!

The first Surya Namaskar has nine vinyasas. Vinyasa means breath and movement together

First Vinyasa

Inhale and place UR hands over UR head.

Second Vinyasa

Exhale and place UR hands right down by UR sides.

Third Vinyasa

Tighten UR hips a little and reach UR hands forward and exhale. Bend down. Bring UR head close to UR legs; bend UR knees as much as you need to get UR hands on the floor. Inhale with UR head up. Stay here and exhale.

Repeat first and second Vinayasa

Tighten UR belly – stand up and reach UR arms over UR head. Exhale and bring UR arms out to UR sides.

Fourth Vinyasa

Inhale and move UR arms forward and up like in first Vinayasa. Tighten UR hips and like a swan dive, exhale and open UR chest and come down. Rest UR head down towards UR legs and place UR hands flat on the floor.

Fifth Vinyasa

Inhale with chest up

Sixth Vinyasa

Exhale, jump back and lower down

Seventh Vinyasa

Inhale and get into the upward facing dog position

Eighth Vinyasa

Exhale and get into the downward facing dog position. Breathe with sound 5 times.

Ninth Vinyasa

Bend UR knees and look at UR hands. Inhale, hop UR feet forward, lift UR chest up straightening UR legs. Exhale and bend UR head down.

Repeat first and second Vinayasa

Inhale and stand up with UR hands over UR head. Exhale and stand in the samasthiti position. Take a long inhale and a long exhale.

After you do UR Surya Namaskar or any other asanas, complete it by getting into a half lotus or full lotus position or even into a sukhasana position. Any position you like. We’ll start with the half lotus position today


 

  • Hold UR wrist behind UR back. Exhale and bend UR head down towards the floor
  • Inhale and sit back up. Put your hands behind you (palms flat on the floor)
  • Lengthen UR lower spine, lift UR chest up and gently rest UR head back.
  • If you have any neck discomfort, keep UR chin towards your collarbone and continue to lift UR chest up. This position helps to open UR lungs for deep breathing.
  • Push off from UR hands and keep UR hands on UR knees. The back of UR hands should be on UR knees; close UR thumb and forefinger. Keep UR Spine straight and UR chin down. Breathe slowly 10 times. Breathe with sound in UR nose and UR throat.
  • If UR in half lotus with the sukhasana, you can change UR legs but if UR in the full lotus position – don’t change UR legs – you’lljust be doing UR right first. And if UR in full lotus for all this, therewill be one more pose that you can do at the end.
  • While still in the half lotus pose with the sukhasana – put your left leg on top. Hold onto your opposite wrist – exhale and bend down. Breathe 10 times.
  • Now come into the full lotus position if UR able to do it. If UR unable to do full lotus, just keep UR legs crossed. In full lotus padmasana, keep UR hands on the floor next to UR thighs and lift yourself off the ground for 10 breaths.

If you are not able to do a full lotus – just cross UR legs and lift yourself off the floor for 10 breaths. (Your legs don’t have to be lifted off the ground).

This concludes the Surya Namaskar the first type, along with the 3 finishing poses and udbuthihi, the deep breathing which helps to calm the mind and give you a little bit of a meditative state at the end of your practice.


  • Now lie down on UR back for two minutes stretching UR legs out in front of you. Rest flat down. Some people are a bit more comfortable with their feet resting flat on the floor. Keep UR knees together if you have any lower back pain. Otherwise, rest with UR legs in front of you for 2 minutes.
  • When UR ready to bring yourself back up, you can lengthen URinhale and lengthen UR exhale, wriggle UR fingers and toes and move UR ankles and wrists around a little bit – pull UR knees into UR chest and hug UR knees for a moment. Rock yourself up to a seated position with UR hands folded in front of you. Say ‘Om Shanti’ three times to conclude.

 

The most important thing about yoga, meditation or any devotional practice or contemplated practice you do is to do it with regularity because that’s when you begin to see change and transformation in UR life.

 

 

 

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