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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sun Salutation - The Complete Guide (Poses, Benefits and Mantras)

In Hindu mythology – the gods and goddesses are actually manifestations of nature and Surya represents the sun god. He is believed to ride the chariot holding the sun, thus ensuring the transition of night to day, like the Roman god, Helios. Being endowed with four arms, it is also believed that Surya blesses his worshipers in varying meditative poses while directing the energy of the sun to spread its healing powers. Till today Hindus can be seen leaving an image of the Sun hanging from their businesses as a continued assurance of blessings and good luck.

The Sun Salutation (Surya namaskara) – translated as sun salutations – are hence derived from that mythological belief and are the meditative yoga poses (asanas) that help in warming up the blood in preparation for the more intense asanas as they work out each and every muscle of the body.

The Sun Salutation comprise a set of 12 asanas (poses) which are practised when the sun is rising, in the early morning, preferably facing that spiritual body as it grows from the East. Real dedication to health and fitness and deep respect for your body may be manifested by performing 12 sets of the exercise, Surya Namaskar every day. It has been deduced that this pure dedication will earn the same benefit as doing 288 last yoga asanas within 15 minutes!


The main impact of the Sun salutations/Surya namaskaras:

Core health impact: intestine, liver, stomach, heart, chest, throat, legs. Tackling several vital organs at the same time, these asanas lead to improved blood circulation as well as the proper working of the bowels and the centre of the nerves. They make the spine and waist supple and toughen muscles of the arms and abdomen. They improve the heart/lungs function and channelise the mind’s energies, increasing the power of concentration

Calorie loss impact: 13.90 calories per single set Once the body gets used to of Surya Namaskar’s one set with ease, yogis can do between 100 and 110 sets every day which equals to 1390 – 1529 calories a day. In the process, these asanas will tone every muscle in the body, and your ultimate fitness goal would be reached.

Important info before beginning your sun salutations:

It is essential that you do it with an empty bowel and stomach. There is no specific place for performing the asanas, but you can do it in an outdoor, open space. If that is not possible then it may be practised indoor as well, however, it must be confirmed that space is aired correctly and has proper air passage. Beginners must be careful not to strain their muscles by overstretching their limits. The body needs time to open up, so being in sync with where the body is feeling tender is essential. It is important to begin these asanas with a registered yoga teacher who can guide new yogis to maintain a correct posture as incorrect postures can harm the muscles and bones.

Some warning signals: while this fantastic exercise uplifts your spirit and body in the ideal fitness routine for almost everyone, some exemptions should be made for persons with the following conditions:
  • Pregnant women particularly those who are near the end of their first trimester. 
  • People who have hernia problems and suffer from hypertension or high BP should first consult their doctor and should generally avoid doing these asanas. 
  • It is also recommended that women going through their menstrual period should refrain from doing the Sun Salutation. 

Let’s begin! As mentioned, the ideal practice for these sun salutations should include 12 rounds daily of one set of 12 asanas prescribed in the Sun Salutation which would work out as six sets on each leg. 

Beginners are however advised to first start with eight rounds which would give each leg a practice of four sets which may be gradually increased when the body seems ready. While it is said that the SuNamaskar asanas should be performed when the sun is rising. It is said that it can be done in the evening as well.

Yes, the Sun Salutation may be performed in the evening at the time of the setting of the sun as a respectful farewell to the sun. However, there are still others who want to know if these asanas can be practised after sunset if that is the only time available? The answer again is yes’, they may be exercised after sunset too. However, they would not be referred to as sun salutations anymore (for obvious reasons). They would instead be called Chandra namaskar – Chandra meaning moon, hence, moon salutations – and may be practised when that other heavenly body is discernable in the night sky.

The Mantra (chants) for the Sun Salutation Beginning with offering pranam or respect to the Surya or sun at the time of the new dawn, the sun salutations are actually prayers that ask the sun to channel its energy into the human body. The prayers are in the form of chants (mantra), and there are 12 – each for one of the asanas that the namaskaras include.

The following are the 12 mantra:
  • Om Mitray Nama
  • Om Ravay Nama
  • Om Suryay Nama
  • Om Bhanav Nama
  • Om Khagay Nama
  • Om Pusne Nama
  • Om Hiranyagarbhay Nama
  • Om Mrichay Nama
  • Om Adityay Nama
  • Om Sawitre Nama
  • Om Arkay Nama
  • Om Bhaskaray Nama

Detailed techniques of doing the 12 poses of Surya Namaskar – steps and postures While the core technique of practising the 12 poses of this exercise is the same, different instructors use variations when teaching the positions to new students of yoga. We have listed the details of the 12-step round of this yoga practice below: 

Here is a detailed understanding of the 12 steps and how is the Surya Namaskar performed. Different trainers have different training standards. Some are genuinely dedicated to the essence of these salutations, and they stick to the twelve basic poses.

There are many teachers however who include different sequencing, while some jazz up the routine by incorporating other asanas to give variation to the pace and make the workout more extreme. These variations are there to demonstrate that each asana may be adjusted within different time-frames. Most routines follow the 30-second rule for each posture.

Step 1 – The prayer pose (pranamasana) 



How to practice the posture: The Sun Salutation begin by taking a position at the end of the yoga mat. Keeping feet together, it is necessary to get the weight of the body similarly adjusted on both feet. Then the shoulders should be relaxed, and the chest expanded. Lifting both the arms up, the breathing should be inhaled and the slowly exhaled while bringing your palm forth your chest so that it looks like a prayer position.

Step 2 – The Pose of Arms Raised (hasta uttanasana) 



How to practice the posture: While inhaling, the arms should be lifted up and then back, and the biceps then brought near to your ears. The intention should be that you stretch the whole body such that the effort may be felt starting from the heels right up to the fingertips.

Step 3 – The pose of hand to Foot (pada hastasana) 


How to practice the posture: While exhaling the body should be bent forth from the waist up. It must be made sure that the spine is erect at the same time. Switching to inhale, the hands should be brought down towards the yoga mat to rest next to the feet.

Step 4 – The equestrian pose (ashwa sanchalanasana) 


How to practice the posture: While inhaling, the left leg should be pushed back as much as it possibly may go. Then, bending the right knee, arms should be placed next to the feet, and simultaneously the gaze of the eyes should turn towards the front.

Step 5 – Mountain pose (parvatasana)


How to practice the posture: While exhaling, hips and tailbone should be lifted, and the chest must be lowered to face downwards so that it forms a 'V’ in inverted form.

Step 6 – Saluting with eight parts (ashtanga namaskara) 


How to practice the posture: After the inverted V, the knees should come down gently towards the yoga mat, and the breath should be exhaled. Then, taking the hips back, the yogi should slide forward in such a way that the chin should be touching the floor. Raising the buttocks slightly, it should appear as if your chin, chest knees, feet and hands are touching the floor, i.e. eight body parts connect with the floor.

Step 7 – The cobra pose (bhujangasana) 


How to practice the posture: Next, sliding the body in a forward motion, the chest should be raised in a cobra pose. At the same time, the elbows need to be bent, and shoulders are to be placed at a distance from the ears. Then the gaze should be turned upwards.

Step 8 – The mountain pose (parvatasana) 


How to practice the posture: Coming back to the mountain pose, while exhaling the hips and tailbone should be lifted, and your chest should be facing down again to make a “V” in inverted. Now moving towards.

Step 9 – The Equestrian Pose (ashwa sanchalanasana) 


How to practice the posture: While inhaling, this time the right leg should be pushed back as much as it possibly may go. Then, bending the left knee, arms should be placed next to the feet, and simultaneously the gaze of the eyes should turn towards the front.

Step 10 –The Pose of Hand to Foot (pada hastasana) 


How to practice the posture: While exhaling the body should be bent forth with the waist up. It must be made sure that the spine is erect at the same time. Switching to inhale, the hands should be brought towards the floor, i.e., down to rest beside the feet. The breath should then be exhaled.

Step 11 – Pose with arms raised(hasta uttanasana) 


How to practice the posture: Once again, while inhaling, the arms should be lifted up and then back, and the biceps then brought near to your ears. The intention should be that you need to stretch the whole body such that the effort may be felt starting from the heels right up to the fingertips.

Step 12 – The prayer pose (pranamasana) 


How to practice the posture: Just as the Sun Salutation begin, so do they conclude by the final standing pose while keeping feet together. Again, it is necessary to get the weight of the body similarly adjusted on both feet. Then the shoulders should be relaxed, and the chest expanded. Lifting both the arms up, the breathing should be inhaled and then slowly exhaled while your palm looks in prayer position in front of your chest. Beneficial details of regularly practising the 12 asanas of it.

The 12 – pose sequence of these salutations is hugely advantageous for all areas of the human anatomy, however, the most prominent benefits include:
  • Enhanced blood circulation The continuous inhale and exhale routine makes the lungs work hard at ventilation leading the blood to get renewed and fully oxygenated. The breathing exercise is also a great way of removing impurities and toxins from within. 
  • A formula for weight loss These 12 asanas are designed mainly to tone the body muscles and strengthen the bones – mainly the spine which is literally the backbone of your body! However, a brisk-paced practice of these asanas can have the same effect as a cardio workout which will lead to weight loss. 
  • Great regulator for the menstrual cycle For women who face erratic menstrual cycles it is a good balancing act as the blood flow gets a boost and the periods simultaneously get regulated. It is believed that women who are in the habit of doing these salutations may have a natural childbirth. 
  • Makes hair grow fast and skin glow and grow! Amongst so many health benefits, the practice of these 12 postures also has a positive effect on age due to enhanced blood circulation. The skin acquires a refreshed glow as blood reaches the brain more and more. The youthful look goes deeper beyond the appearance as delayed signs of ageing have also been recorded along with less greying of hair. 
  • Restful mind and calm nerves Working as an anti-anxiety agent, the Sun Salutation postures have a calming effect on the brain, thus improving the memory as well. The asanas also have a stabilising effect on the thyroid gland which is another factor responsible for reducing stress and anxiety. With many rewards waiting at the end of your Sun Salutation journey, it is highly recommended that you strike a pose at the first opportunity!

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