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The traditional Surya Namaskaram, known as Sun Salutation, is practiced at the beginning of an asana session to warm up the body, and to acknowledge the inner sun and its profound role in regulating the body. According to yogic science, there are devas or divine impulses that rule the different parts of our human body. The 12 Sun Salutation movements are based on the 12 zodiac signs and can help us to be in sync with our physical and mental cycles. In ancient days, this exercise was a daily routine as a part of yogic spiritual practices, and was practiced in the early morning facing the sun to internalize the sun as part of our body system.
Each round is comprising 12 movements - once with the right leg leading and once with the left, and one should practice this sequence at least twelve rounds by repeating twelve names of the Lord Sun.
Start in Standing Pose (Tadasana)
Stand tall with the feet hip-distance wide, tailbone lengthening toward the earth. Let the arms relax next to the body. Bring awareness to the soles of the feet. Feel that gravity is anchoring the feet to the earth, pulling any tension in the body down and out the soles of the feet.
Step 1: Prayer Pose (Pranamasana)
Stand at the front edge of your mat. Keep your feet together, and make sure your weight is equally balanced on both the feet. Expand your chest and relax your shoulders.
Inhale. Lift both arms up from the sides, and as you Exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.
Step 2: Raised Arms Pose (Hasta Uttanasana)
Inhale. Lift your arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. The palms are either facing front or each other.
Arch back and push the hips forward. Bring awareness to the stretch in the abdominal organs.
Step 3: Standing Forward Bend (Padahastasana)
Exhale. Bend forward from your waist, keeping the arms alongside the ears. As you exhale completely, bring the palms or fingers to touch the floor beside the feet, or as far as possible. The knees remain straight.
Step 4: Low Lunge/ Equestrian pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
Inhale. Take a long step backwards with your right leg as far as possible. Lower your right knee to the floor and the toes stretch backward.
The left foot remains between the hands with the sole of the foot flat on the floor. Gently look up.
Step 5: Plank (Kumbhakasana)
Hold the breath and take your left leg back in line with the right and bring the whole body into a straight line. Gaze diagonally downward, keeping your head in line with your spine.
Step 6: Salute with Eight Parts (Ashtanga Namaskaram)
Exhale. Gently lower your knees, chin and chest to the floor.
The toes are tucked under and hips are lifted from the floor. Concentrate on the whole body. Arms are bent with elbows tucked in and hands under the shoulders.
Step 7: Cobra pose (Bhujangasana)
Inhale. Press your hips to the floor and slide your body forward and up, rising your chest up. Look upwards.
Your elbows should be bent keeping them close to the body and roll the shoulders down and back away from the ears. Keep the legs on the ground. Focus on relaxing the spine.
Step 8: Parvatasana (Mountain Pose)
Exhale. Tuck the toes under and push the hips and the tailbone up to bring the body into an inverted ‘V’ pose. Align the head in between the arms. Bring awareness to the length of the spine and back of the legs.
Step 9: Low Lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana) Equestrian pose
Inhale. Bring your right foot forward with a large step in between the two hands. Lower the left knee to the floor and the toes stretching backward.
The right foot remains between the hands and the sole of the foot is flat on the floor. Look up.
Step 10: Standing Forward Bend (Padahastasana)
Exhale. Bring the left foot forward. Keep the palms on the floor. You may bend the knees, if necessary.
Step 11: Raised Arms Pose (Hasta Uttanasana)
Inhale. Reach the arms forward and up. Align the arms with the ears and lift the torso.
Reach the arms toward the sky, arch the back, and push the hips forward. Bring awareness to the stretch in the abdomen.
Step 12: Prayer Pose (Pranamasana)
Exhale. Bring the hands into prayer position in front of the chest and return to the starting position. Bring awareness to the heart.
Ending the practice
To end this practice, lie down and relax your entire body in Savasana (Corpse pose) for two to three minutes. Your body needs sufficient time to adjust to the effects of the stretches of your Sun Salutations. Breathe and allow the heart rate to return to normal before moving on to other asanas.
Beginners can start with four to six slow rounds of Sun Salutations, adding one more each week. If they’re breathing heavily, they should pause in between each round and take several breaths. Intermediate students can practice up to 12 rounds of Sun Salutations at a moderate pace.
Avoid practicing Surya Namaskaram if you have high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis, during the onset of menstruation or if you had a stroke.
Pic Courtesy: Swami Vishnudevananda
Blog originally published on Yoga Vana