Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)

Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation, is a flowing series of 12 postures. They could be performed in the beginning of the daily yoga practice in a single, graceful flow much quicker than the rest of the asana, in which case they serve as a worming up series. They could also be performed, as a daily yoga practice solely, enriched with different variants of each movement in which case the speed is slower with holding up time in each of the variant according your physical abilities. Traditionally the yogis perform it at sunrise, before the asana, there for the complex adopted its name Surya Namaskar, the Sun Salutation.

Each movement is coordinated with the breath. Inhale as you extend or stretch, and exhale as you fold or contract. The Sun Salutation activates and tones the majority of body muscles; has warming up effect, helps improve strength and flexibility and it is especially beneficial to the spinal column.

There are slight variations in the way Sun Salutation is performed in the different yoga styles. Here we present each movement with few possible variations, together with the breading patterns, the concentration during the complex, the possible difficulties and mistakes and the therapeutic effect.

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1 Stand at the front of your yoga mats. Start with Tadasana (Yoga Mountain Pose) standing posture with feet together. Bring your palms together in front of your chest (prayer position). Exhale.

2 Inhaling raise your arms overhead. Palms stay together, arch the torso slightly back.

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3 Exhaling bend forward until your hands touch the floor. The bend forward should be at the waist, while keeping the legs as straight as possible. The best position is to bring the hands parallel to the legs flat to the floor on either side of your feet, while touching the knees with your forehead. If your body does not allow that flexibility than go as far as you can but keep the back strait and legs as strait as possible.

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4 Inhaling, step the right leg back. Hold the bend leg and the arms grounded solid on the floor. Arch back and lift your chin.

5 As you exhale, left leg stepping back next to the right leg to form plank position. Feet, hip-width apart. Arms are perpendicular to the floor, shoulder-width apart, fingers and the thumbs spread and the shoulders directly over the wrists. Torso is parallel to the floor and in alignment with the legs and the head. Tuck your chin in. Eyes are looking to the floor. Lift the pelvic floor muscles as you tuck the tailbone in.

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6 Retaining the breath, knees touch the floor, hips and tummy stay up, chest touches the floor and then your forehead, toes curled under. This posture is called Sashtang Namaskar; it is bowing with eight limbs of the body touching the ground (forehead, chest, and two palms, knees, and feet)

7 Inhaling go in to Cobra position. By straitening your arms raise your chest and head and bend back looking at the sealing. Keep your arms straight. Your feet and knees rest on the floor

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8 Exhaling, curl your toes under. With a flow lower your heat and chest, press down into your heels, keep your arms and legs straight, and lift your hips as high as they can go. Keep your legs and hands shoulder width apart. Head is hanging down, eyes looking in the space between your legs. Keep your arms and back in a straight line. The body takes the form of triangle. This posture is called Adho Mukha Svanasana or Down Face Dog (adho = downward, mukha = face, svana = dog)

9 As you inhale, step with your right leg between your hands. The knee of the left leg touches the floor. Lift your chin up. So we start with the right leg stretching back in posture four and end with right leg coming forward between the hands, because we work with right side first and than we work symmetrical, repeating the same 12 postures with left side.

10 Exhale and then bend forward until your hands touch the floor on each side of your feet. Forehead as close as possible to the knees, like in posture 3.

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11 Inhaling, lift your arms, scooping up energy and over your head. Slowly bend backward from the waist, like posture 2

12 Exhaling come back to Tadasana.

In fact the Sun Salutation postures are 6 movements repeated in reverse.

It is recommended that when doing the Sun Salutation exercises is better if you face the direction of the Sun, depending what time of the day you are practicing the postures. Extremely important is to synchronise the breathing with the movements.

Concentration during the Sun salutation is extremely important. Concentrate on the Sun, on the cosmic energy spread from the Sun. Try constantly to bring your wandering mind to the feeling of that energy penetrating your body at any moment and imagine your breathing delivering it in to your nadas and chacras. This is how you make the Sun Salutation more than merely muscles toning exercise.

The difficulties in the beginning will be synchronising the breathing with the movement. You can try to learn at first just the movements and than add the breathing patterns. Another difficulty reported often by yoga practitioners is the stiffness experienced (particularly when done in early morning hours comparing to practising it in the evening). You can help your self by starting the complex very slowly with deep breathing and gradually as your body gets looser and stretched start doing the movements quicker (if you do it as warming up program).

Therapeutic effect and benefits : It works as an internal massage of the organs. Stimulates the digestive system. Tones the nerve system due to the row of stretches and bends of the spinal cord. Helps to activate the function of the lungs, to oxidise the blood. Warms up the body there for is having good effect on the kidney functioning.

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