Surya Namaskara (/su:rjə nəməska:rə/ soor-yah nah-mahs-kah-rah2; Sanskrit: सूर्य नमस्कार; IAST: Sūrya namaskāra), known in English as Sun Salutation (lit. “salute to the sun”), is a common sequence of Hatha yoga asanas. Its origins lie in a worship of Surya, the Hindu solar deity. This sequence of movements and poses can be practised on varying levels of awareness, ranging from that of physical exercise in various styles, to a complete sadhana which incorporates asana, pranayama, mantra and chakra meditation.
The physical base of the practice links together twelve asanas in a dynamically performed series. These asanas are ordered so that they alternately stretch the spine backwards and forwards. When performed in the usual way, each asana is moved into with alternate inhalation and exhalation (except for the sixth asana where the breath is held in external suspension). A full round of Surya namaskara is considered to be two sets of the twelve poses with a change in the second set to moving the opposite leg first through the series.
Some proponents of the use of Surya namaskara as part of the modern yoga tradition prefer to perform it at sunrise, which the orthodox consider to be the most ‘spiritually favorable’ time of the day.