Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) combines Yogasanas (yoga postures) and Pranayama (yoga breathing). It brings about the general flexibility of the body preparing it for Asanas and Pranayama. This is usually done both at sunrise and sunset, facing the Sun.

The Sun Salutation is a warm-up exercise that should be practised before starting the other Asanas. It is made up of 12 different spinal positions giving various vertebral movements to the spinal column. It brings great flexibility to the spine and limbs. For stiff people the Sun Salutation is a great boon in helping to regain lost flexibility. The Sun Salutation helps to regulate the breathing and focus the mind.

The are mainly two modes of performing Sun Salutation. In one, there are 12 steps and in the other only 10 in each round. Each stage of Sun Salutation is accompanied by regulation of breath.

Technically, Sun Salutation is not an asana, but a series of gentle flowing movements synchronized with the breath. Once you have learned the positions of the Sun Salutation, it is important to tune them to a rhythmical breathing pattern. Try to do 6-12 cycles of the Sun Salutation every day.

12-step Sun Salutation

Starting Position:
  • Stand erect with legs together. Bring the palms together at the chest in the Prayer position. This is a powerful physical, mental, and psychic way of centring the body.
  1. Take the hands above the head while inhaling and bend the trunk backwards.
  2. Bend the body forward while exhaling. Touch the forehead to the knees. Keep the palms on the floor on either side of the feet.
  3. In this step breath in and kick the right leg back. Push the buttock forward and downward so that the left leg is perpendicular to the ground. Look up.
  4. In this step, exhale and take the left leg also back, resting only on palms and toes. Keep the body straight from head to toes inclined to the ground at about 30 degree. Take care to keep the neck in line with the back.
  5. While inhaling, bend the legs at the knees and rest them on the floor with buttocks resting on the heels without altering the position of the palms and toes. Exhale as you rest the forehead on the floor. Then relax in normal breathing.
  6. While exhaling without shifting the positions of hands and toes, glide the body forward and hold the breath and rest the forehead (or chin), chest, hands, knees and toes on the ground. Raise the buttock off the ground. Note that eight points of the body are in contact with the ground - hence the name sastanga namaskara (Salutation with eight parts).
  7. Inhale, raise the head and trunk making the spine concave upwards without lifting the position of the hands and feet. Arch the back as far as you can until the elbows are straight.
  8. While exhaling, raise the buttocks, push the head down until the heels touch the ground without shifting the position of hands and feet.
  9. Same as step 5.
  10. Inhale and bring the right leg in between the two hands. Arch the back concave upwards as in step 3 until the right leg is perpendicular to the ground.
  11. Exhale and bring the left foot forward next to the right foot and reach down with your upper body to touch the forehead to the knees as in step 2.
  12. While inhaling, come up to step 1 and then back starting position. This completes one round of Sun Salutation.
You are now ready to begin the next Sun Salutation cycle. In the steps shown here, you are asked to lead with the right leg, but for the next cycle, you should lead with the left leg.

Note: In 10-step Sun Salutation, the 5th and 9th stages are omitted.

Note: Please perform the yoga under the guide of a certified yoga teacher especially for beginner. You are at your own risk and responsible if you perform on your own. Whatever provided here is just act as an information.