Yoga for Beginners – Sun Salutation Surya Namaskar

The  Sun  Salutation,  sometimes  called  a  “greeting  to  the  Sun,”  is  a  sequence  of  twelve  yoga postures  that  are  linked  by  a  controlled  breathing pattern into one flowing movement.

The  Sun  Salutation  activates  and  stimulates  the body,  mind  and  spirit.  It  arouses  life  energies and gets rid of blockages.

It is most suitable as a warm-up at the start of a yoga session or on its own as a “wake-up ritual” for a dynamic start to the day.

 One  round  consists  of  12  poses  that  flow  into  each other.  First,  practice  the  exercises  separately  until  you feel comfortable with them and your body knows which muscles  are  already  tense  and  which  can  be  relaxed. Then  combine  the  exercises  into  a  harmonious  flow, aided by your breathing rhythm.

The following guidelines may be helpful:

  • Inhale when you open and stretch upward or forward.
  • Exhale when you bend down or look down.

The   transitions   and   breathing   pattern   are   described again in detail below.yoga-for-beginners-sun-salutation-surya-namaskar

In the first round, place your right leg behind you in the lunge pose and place your right leg forward coming out of  the  Dog  Pose.  In  the  next  circuit,  place  your  left  leg to  the  rear  and  then  to  the  front  again.  Swap  legs  in this way each time you start a new round.

As   the   whole   sequence   is   very   complex,   start   by breaking  it  down  into  individual  exercises.  Then  carry out only exercises number 1, 2, 3, 11 and 12.

Next  increase  the  round  to  include  numbers  1,  2,  3,  4, 10, 11 and 12.

Finally increase again to 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Practice the middle section separately: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Eventually combine these with the first part to form the complete  Sun  Salutation.  First  practice  the  movements only.  Wait  until  you  are  confident  in  your  mastery  of each  asana  before  you  start  to  work  on  the  correct breathing pattern.

Increase  the  number  of  circuits  until  you  can  perform about  8  –  10  circuits  easily.  Then  start  to  increase  the speed a little from one round to another.

This dynamic sequence is one of the few sivananda yoga exercises, which place such a demand on the cardiova-scular  system  that  you  may  even  break  into  a  sweat.

Pause  after  practicing.  Open  your  feet  hip-width  apart to  give  you  a  stable  base.  Close  your  eyes  and  be aware of your heartbeat and your breathing.

Focus on your inhalation and exhalation. Calm your breathing by counting slowly to four as you inhale and exhale.

The Effects of the Sun Salutation

Physical

  • The Sun    Salutation    stimulates    the    cardiovascular system.  All   the   large   muscle   groups   are   alternately strengthened and stretched.
  • Synchronizing the  exercises  with  your  breathing  and maintaining a flowing rhythm develops coordination.

Energetic

  • The solar  plexus  is  charged  with  This  energy  is balanced by alternately bending forward and backward.

Mental

  • The Sun  Salutation  develops    The  con- centration  required  for  such  a  complex  exercise  leaves no  time  for  thinking  about  the  past  or  the  future.  This makes it equally suitable as both a warm-up for a yoga session  and  to  “free  your  mind”  in  the  evening  after  a mentally demanding day.

Take regular, deep breaths.

Om 1 Namaste, Mountain Pose

Breathe   in   deeply   and   as   you breathe   out,   bring   both   hands together   in   front   of   the   chest. Push  your  hands  and  your  finger- tips  together,  keeping  your  lower arms   parallel   to   the   floor.   Your feet  are  close  together,  with  your toes pointing outward for stability.

Om 2 Upward Salute

With  the  next  inhalation,  extend both arms upward. Open up your chest  and  lean  backward  so  that your   breastbone   is   facing   the ceiling.  Take  care  not  to  hollow your back.

Om 3 Standing Forward Bend

With  your  next  exhalation,  bend  forward    keeping    your    upper    body straight.   Holding   your   arms   in   line with  your  back  is  very  demanding  on your  back.  Your  arms  can  evenly  be brought  down  to  the  side.  Straighten your legs as much as possible without rounding your back. Your head should hang  down  loosely.  When  your  hands touch  the  floor,  place  your  fingertips or  the  palms  of  your  hands  next  to your   feet,   otherwise,   just   let   your arms hang freely.

Om 4 Lunge

With   your   next   inhalation,   extend your right leg back to enter the lunge position.  You  can  even  rest  your  rear knee  on  the  floor.  Keep  your  upper body  as  upright  as  possible  as  you do  so  and  face  forward,  even  if  only your fingertips are touching the floor. It   is   more   important   to   keep   your back  straight  than  to  put  the  palms of your hands on the floor.

The  lower  part  of  your  front  leg  should  be  perpendicular  to  the  floor.  Make  sure  that  your  knee  doesn’t  stick out beyond the tips of your toes. Your hips should sink as  low  as  possible  toward  the  floor,  without  your  back hollowing.  In  the  next  circuit,  put  your  left  leg  back instead of your right.

Om 5 Plank

Hold  your  breath  for  a  moment  and  now  extend  your left leg back to enter the push-up position, so that both legs   are   parallel.   Your   upper

body   should   be   in   line   with your legs. If you are not strong enough to do this in the beginning, raise your hips a little. On no  account  should  you  hollow your back.

Your   fingertips   should   point forward,     and     your     elbows should point toward your feet.

Om 6 Staff

Now  breathe  out,  bringing  your  knees,  chest  and  forehead  slowly  and  under  control  to  the  floor  in  one smooth movement.

It   is   easier   to   lower   your knees   first   and   then   your upper body.

Keep your arms close to your upper body, with your shoulders pulled hard toward your feet. This avoids creating tension  in  your  shoulders  and neck. At the end of the movement,   lie   flat   on   the   floor. Stretch  out  your  feet  before entering the next pose.

Om 7 Cobra

Press  your  hands  gently  into the  floor.  Push  your  fingertips away from your shoulders. Pull your  hands  toward  your  feet without    moving    them,    thus bringing  your  elbows  close  to your body.

As     you     inhale,     use     the strength  of  your  back  to  raise your    upper    body    into    the Cobra   pose.   Your   toes   are pointed and touch the floor.

Om 8 Downward Facing Dog Pose

Lower  your  upper  body  again. Press the tips of your toes down into  the  floor.  With  your  next exhalation, straighten your legs and  raise  your  hips.  Straighten your   arms,   too.   Your   upper body  should  be  in  line  with your  arms.  Keep  your  back  as flat as possible.

Try to sink toward the floor on the outside edge of your heels.

Om 9 Lunge

With   your   next   inhalation, place  your  right  foot  (your left  foot  in  the  next  circuit) between   your   hands   once again.  Look  slightly  in  front of  your  hands  so  that  your back  is  as  flat  as  possible. Your  fingertips  or  the  palms of   your   hands   touch   the floor.   Push   your   chest   for- ward.  Make  sure  once  again that    your    knees    remain above  the  tips  of  your  toes, not in front of them.

Om 10 Standing Forward Bend

As   you   breathe   out,   place your  left  foot  next  to  your right   and   straighten   both legs   as   much   as   possible, leaning your upper body for- ward   as   you   do   so.   Your head     should     now     hang down   loosely.   When   your hands  touch  the  floor,  place your  fingertips  or  the  palms of  your  hands  next  to  your feet,  or  just  let  your  arms hang   freely.   Do   not   round your back.

Om 11 Upward Salute

As  you  breathe  in,  raise your    upper    body    and extend your arms upward. Open  your  chest,  so  that your  breastbone  is  facing the ceiling. Do not hollow your back.

Om 12 Mountain Pose

As you breathe out, place your   hands   together   in the  prayer  position  and then  let  your  arms  hang by   your   side.   Stand   up straight  and  do  not  hollow your back.

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