Sun Salutations

Fall in love with yoga. – Swami Satyananda

Every morning, I do the Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskara). It’s a great way to stretch my body and prepare for the day.

The Sun Salutations is an old age practice from Vedic times. The 12 asanas (poses) are symmetrical and rhythmic. I encourage everyone to do the Sun Salutations. Do each cycle 12 times – the diagram above shows one cycle.

Here are detailed instructions for the asanas (taken from Atma Darshan Yogashram Teachers Training, Bangalore, India):

1st Asana (a) Place feet together. (b) Stand up straight, feeling the straightness in the back; stomach in. (c) Join the palms together in Namasker and place them in front of the chest in an attitude of prayer. (d) Relax the whole body.

2nd Asana (a) Raise both arms above the head, stretching them fully upwards and backwards. Do not bend the elbows. (b) The distance between the arms should be shoulder width. (c) Bend the upper trunk back as far as possible without losing balance; keep eyes open. (d) Drop head back (e) Feel the stretch in the abdomen, chest, throat, and compression in the back.

3rd Asana (a) Bend forward to try and touch your toes with your fingers or hands. The ideal position is with the palms flat on the ground by the side of the feet with fingers pointing forward and in line with the toes. If the ideal position cannot be achieved yet, don’t force the body to do so. Go as far down as possible without straining; let the hands hang loose. Knees straight. (b) Try to touch the knees with the forehead without bending the knees. (c) Feel the stretch in the back, hamstring muscles and spine, as also the compression in the abdomen.

4th Asana (a) Bend the knees. (b) Take the right leg as far back as possible and let the knee touch the ground. (c) Bend the left knee, arch the back and tilt the head backwards gazing at the ceiling. The chest will be pressed against the left knee. (d) Keep the arms straight and in the final posture; the weight of the body should be taken on both hands, the left foot, the right knee and the right toes. (e) Feel the stretch on the inside of the thigh, on the abdomen, chest and throat; feel the compression in the back of neck and the small of the back.

5th Asana (a) Straighten the left leg and place the left foot by the right. (b) Raise the buttocks up and lower the head so that it lies between the two arms, towards the knees. (c) The body should form two sides of a triangle, with the buttocks as the apex. Push your nose towards the knees. (d) Legs and arms should be straight and try and touch the ground with your heels feeling the stretch in the hamstring, neck and back muscles; as also the compression in the abdomen.

6th Asana (a) Bend your arms and lower your body to the ground, first touching the ground with the two knees – go slightly forward on your hands so that the chest and chin touch the ground between the hands. (b) Raise hip and abdomen slightly off the ground feeling the pressure in the small of the back.

7th Asana (a) Straighten your arms, move your chest forward, arch your back and tilt your head as far back as possible so as to stare at the ceiling. (b) Lower the thighs so as to come in contact with the ground. (c) Toes shoulder be turned under with feet together. (d) Feel the stretch on the abdomen, rib cage and throat; and compression at the back of the neck and the lower back.

8th Asana (a) Raise the buttocks up and lower the head so that it lies between the two arms, towards the knees. (b) The body should form two sides of a triangle, with the buttocks as the apex. Push your nose towards the knees. (c) Legs and arms should be straight and try and touch the ground with your heels feeling the stretch in the hamstring, neck and back muscles; as also the compression in the abdomen.

9th Asana (a) Bend the left leg to touch the ground with the left knee, simultaneously bring the right leg up placing the right toes in line with the fingers between the arms. (b) Arch back and tilt your head back so as to stare at the ceiling. (c) Feel the stretch on the inside of the thigh, on the abdomen, chest and throat; feel the compression in the back of neck and the small of the back.

10th Asana (a) Bring the left foot up and place it in line with the right. (b) Straighten both knees and bring the nose as close to the knees as possible and palms and fingers as close to the ground as possible. (c) Feel the stretch in the back, hamstring muscles and spine, as also the compression in the abdomen.

11th Asana (a) Rise and raise arms above the head, bending the upper trunk and head backwards without losing your balance. Do not bend the elbows. (b) The distance between the arms should be shoulder width. (c) Feel the stretch in the abdomen, chest, throat, and compression in the back.

12th Asana (a) Straighten the trunk and bring the hands in front of chest to join the palms in a Namasker, relaxing the whole body.

Surya Namaskara

Here are some benefits of doing the Sun Salutations:

  • Loosens up joints, flexes all muscles, and massages all the important internal organs
  • Creates breath awareness, helps us to breathe correctly (slow and deep), and increases oxygen
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Increases circulation in vital organs (heart and lungs)
  • Opens your chakras and harmonizes the whole body/mind complex
  • Aligns with the meridians and sen lines
  • Prepares your body and mind for meditation (creates mental clarity)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Namaste, world

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