Suryanamaskara (sun salutation) combines yoga asanas (yoga poses) and pranayamas (yoga breathing ). So the breathing part is as important as the poses. Synchronizing your breathing with the movements of the body is very important. Both the asanas and the pranayamas combined together work not only on the body but also on the mind and at a spiritual level.
The yoga sequence of suryanamaskara stretches all parts of the body and therefore improves the circulation of blood throughout the body and helps in maintaining an overall good health and well being of the practitioner. Suryanamaskara, done at a fast pace aids in losing weight. As it stretches and tones the muscles of the body, it is an excellent cardiovascular workout as well. Daily practice of the asanas has numerous benefits to the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory system. Regular practice of the Sun Salutation helps calm the mind and makes your body more flexible, thereby helping to keep both your body and mind youthful.
How to do-
Suryanamaskar is usually done in the morning at sunrise or in the evening at sunset, although sunrise is the best time to do this yoga sequence. Like most asanas, it is recommended to be performed on an empty stomach. There are many variations of the sun salutation. This is one of the popular 12 steps variation.
Stand erect with legs together, your hands relaxed and fingers pointing downwards. Bring the palms together in front of the chest to namaskara mudra. This helps to induce a state of relaxation and calmness. Now, inhale and raise your arms, arch the back and stretch the whole body up and backwards. This posture stretches the chest and the abdomen.
Exhale and bend the body forward and down towards the knees. Keep the palms on the floor on either side of the feet. Touch the forehead to the knees. Keep the legs straight and perpendicular to the ground. This posture massages the abdominal organs and improves digestion.
Breathe in and bring the right leg back. Push the buttock forward and downward so that the left leg is perpendicular to the ground. Lift the spine and expand the chest, and look up. This pose strengthens the hand and wrist muscle and exercises the spine.
Now, exhale and take the left leg back. Keep the body straight from head to the toes inclined to the ground at about 30 degree, resting your whole body only on the palms and toes. Take care to keep the neck in line with the back. This pose strengthens the core, wrists, arms and legs.
Inhale and 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. Relax, breathe normally. This pose is good for the spine as the upper torso is given an excellent stretch. It increases the oxygen and blood circulation to the lungs, as well as to the body parts above the shoulders.
Exhale, and without shifting the positions of your hands and toes, glide your body forward and hold your breath, resting the forehead, chest, hands, knees and toes on the ground. Raise the buttock off the ground. Note here that eight parts of your body are in contact with the ground. This posture develops the chest and strengthens the arms.
Now inhale and raise your head and trunk upwards without changing the position of your hands and feet. Lower the hips while pushing the chest forward and upward, until the spine is fully arched and the head is facing up. . Keep the elbows straight. This pose gives dynamic expansion to the organs of the chest and abdomen, and is good for ailments such as asthma, constipation, indigestion, kidney and liver problems. It is also very helpful in relieving tension of the back muscles and spinal nerves.
Exhale and raise the buttocks without shifting the position of your hands and feet. Lower the head between the arms so the body forms a triangle with the floor. Try to place the heels flat on the ground. This posture stretches the calf muscles and makes the spine straight and taut. It strengthens the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs.
Breathe in and bend the legs at the knees and rest them on the floor with buttocks resting on the heels. Exhale and rest your forehead on the floor. Relax in normal breathing. This step is same as step 5.
Again, inhale and bring the right leg in between the two hands. Arch the back concave upwards until the right leg is perpendicular to the ground.
Exhale and bring the left foot forward next to the right foot, touch your forehead to the knees as in step 2.
Inhale and come up, finish by bringing the hands in front of the chest in namaskara mudra.
This completes one round of Suryanamaskara. Repeat 3 or 4 more rounds. You can increase the number of rounds gradually.