The Sun Salutation, also known as Surya Namaskar, is a flowing series of 12 poses which help improve strength and flexibility of the muscles and spinal column. This pose also warms up the body, stretching and toning the muscles in the entire body.
But that’s not all. Mounting medical evidence supports yoga’s mind-body healing powers. Yoga could very well be the ultimate de-stress technique. It increases your brains GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels, it’s nature’s anti-anxiety agent – improving mood and decreases anxiety. It also improves the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory system. It lowers blood pressure and heart rate, decreases stress hormones, and increases relaxation hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. All of which helps in maintaining good health by ensuring a disease-free body. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits…
Breakdown of the Poses
The standing poses ground you to the earth, build body awareness and help you find your center. Forward bend and halfway lift elongate your spine, stretch your hamstrings and cleanse your digestive system. Plank and four-limb staff poses engage the muscles in your arms, shoulders, chest and abdomen. Upward-facing dog stretches your upper body as it opens your chest and frees your breathing. Downward-facing dog works muscles in your entire body and calms your nervous system.
It is recommended, like most asanas, to be performed on an empty stomach. Therefore, it is generally practiced in the morning before breakfast. I do the Sun Salutation every morning when I wake up. It gets my body ready for the day ahead.
Here It Is…
Begin by standing in Mountain pose, feet about hip width apart, hands either by your sides or in prayer position. Take several deep breaths.
2. Hands up
On your next inhale, in one sweeping movement, raise your arms up overhead and gently arch back as far as feels comfortable and safe.
3. Head to knees
As you exhale, bend forward, bending the knees if necessary, and bring your hands to rest beside your feet.
Inhale and step the right leg back
Retaining the breath, step the left leg back into plank position.
Exhale and lower yourself as if coming down from a pushup. Only your hands, knees and toes should touch the floor.
7. Upward Dog
Inhale and stretch forward and up, bending at the waist. Use your arms to lift your torso, but only bend back as far as feels comfortable and safe. Lift your legs up so that only the tops of your feet and your hands touch the floor. It’s okay to keep your arms bent at the elbow.
8. Downward dog
Exhale, lift from the hips and push back and up.
Inhale and step the right foot forward.
10. Head to knees
Exhale, bring the left foot forward and step into head-to-knee position.
11. Hands up
Inhale and rise slowly while keeping arms extended.
Exhale, and in a slow, sweeping motion, lower your arms to the sides. End by bringing your hands up into prayer position. Repeat the sequence, stepping with the left leg.
Do the Sun Salutation 3 to 10 times every morning. It only takes a few minutes.
If practiced regularly, can work wonders for every part of the body – from head to toe!