Sun Salutation (Salute to the Sun) or more popularly known as Surya Namaskar (Surya is the Sanskrit word for the sun and Namaskara derives from namas: "to bow, obeisance, reverential salutation) is a set/sequence of asanas/postures often practiced in a morning yoga session to aerobically generate heat and warmth in the body, which is helpful as one gradually moves into deeper postures.
Sun Salutation is performed in the morning empty stomach in a graceful flow and linked by breath-a method called vinyasa that massages, detoxifies, and stimulates almost every organ of the human body. It 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 and it is best done early morning on an empty stomach.
Each Sun Salutation round consists of two sets. These 12 yoga poses complete one set of Surya Namaskar.To complete the second half, you need to repeat the same sequence of postures, only moving the left leg instead of the right.
You might find many different variations of the Sun Salutation. However, it is best to stick to one particular sequence and practice it regularly for best results.
Sun Salutation is important for two reasons. One, it can be a great workout for the whole body – stretching, flexing and toning the muscles, an excellent exercise for weight loss. It also offers numerous health benefits beyond the physical level, relaxing the mind, leading it to meditation. Two, Sun Salutation gives us an opportunity to express gratitude to the sun, without which life on earth would be impossible!
Benefits: It’s a perfect asana sequence; it’s a great way to start your day; generate heat to cleanse your body and mind.
Stand in Mountain pose with the hands in prayer position, feet and legs together, heals are rooted, firm your legs.
The palms are gently pressed together with the shoulders back and down.
The chest presses in towards the thumbs
Inhale through the nose and raise the arms up above the head with your hands in prayer position. Look up at the thumbs.
Gently Bend back.
Lift out of the waist, reaching up towards the sky.
Exhale into Standing Forward Fold.
Press the palms onto the floor; if necessary, bend the knees slightly.
If you have the flexibility, bring the fingertips under your shoulder in line with the toes.
Inhale through the nose and step the right foot back into High Lounge.
Shoulders are back and down, the chest presses forward, crown lifts up. Keep the front knee directly over the ankle and keep the back leg firm and straight or knee bent.
Inhale and step the left foot back into Plank.
The shoulders are aligned forward directly over your wrists. The body is in one straight lane in a push-up position.
Press the heels back, and reach the crown of the head forward.
Exhale down into Caterpillar/Snail.
Bend the knees to the floor and then lower your chest and chin to the floor. Keep your chest open and your elbows close to the side of your ribcage.
Reach the hips up towards the sky, arching the back
Inhale and raise your upper body into Cobra pose.
Roll the shoulders back and extend the shoulder blades down and press them in towards the chest. Your chest should be lifted and open and elbows should stay close to the body.
Your legs and feet should be well extended. As a variation, you can also do an upward dog.
Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.Tuck the toes under, bend the elbows, and lift the hips up and back.
Press firmly into the hands, spread the fingers and press the palms into the mat, they should be shoulder width apart.
Now, lift your hips up towards the sky, lengthening your spine. Gently straighten your legs, pressing your heels down into your mat as far as you can go.
Inhale and step right forward into High Lunge.
Step the left foot forward between the two hands. Adjust the legs so that the knee is directly over the ankle and the toes and knee are pointing forward.
Keep the back leg straight or bent as you sink the hips down. The chest and gaze are forward.
Exhale into Standing Forward Fold.
Press the palms flat to the floor or hold on the fingertips.
If you have the flexibility, bring the fingertips in line with the toes.
Exhale and bring the palms together in Mountain Pose.
Place the feet together or 2-3 inches apart, parallel and facing forward.
The crown of the head lifts up, the chin is parallel to the floor
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