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