Continued from: Surya Namaskara. Awareness
You can do surya namaskara as rapidly or as slowly as you wish; the choice is yours. At first, it should be done slowly to ensure correct development of the movement and breathing. With regular practice your body will begin to gradually flow through the different positions. Under these circumstances you will automatically be able to perform each round in less time. However, be careful not to do the practice so quickly that the inhalation and exhalation becomes shallow and the mantras are not pronounced correctly. Eventually, you will find that the tempo of surya namaskara will be automatically fixed by the time necessary to perform the movement, breath and mantra.
Number of rounds
The number of rounds depends on the health of the individual as well as on the time available. Surya namaskara should not be done to the point of exhaustion. Beginners should start with no more than two or three rounds and add one more round on each successive two days. In this way the body will gradually become accustomed to the increased exercise.
It is really impossible to lay down a fixed number of rounds to be done every morning, for this depends entirely on the individual. Do as many as you can in the time available. However, at the slightest sign of exhaustion stop the practice and relax the body. In fact, the body should be your guide as to the number of rounds that you can manage listen to it carefully and take heed of it. As a rough suggestion, however, a person of reasonably good health should eventually aim to do about twelve rounds every morning. Of course, those who are able can do more, and many people do. If you are not sure on this point seek the guidance of a competent yoga teacher who can prescribe a suitable number of rounds to suit you individually depending on your state of health.
Surya namaskara is ideally practised before doing other asanas, as it helps to remove any sleepiness and to loosen up the body in preparation for your asana practice.
When and where
The best time to practise surya namaskara is in the morning at sunrise. Face the rising sun to absorb the health giving ultraviolet rays. If this is impractical in view of the time of sunrise, climatic conditions and coordination with other yogic practices, it can be done first thing in the morning, preferably after going to the toilet.
Surya namaskara can be practised at other times during the day. However, it is important to wait at least three hours after meals, before attempting the practice. Later in the morning before lunch and in the afternoon before dinner are both good times. It is not advisable to do surya namaskara before sleep because it activates the entire body and this is the opposite effect to what is desired before going to bed.
If possible, practise in the open air, perhaps on a lawn or any clean flat surface. A thin mattress, mat or blanket can be placed on the ground but it must be firmly fixed. Otherwise, while learning surya namaskara in particular, the mat tends to slide backwards.
Continue to: Limitations