While planning for a comprehensive exercise program, it is extremely vital to establish a relationship among physical fitness, confidence and peace of mind.
A great way to achieve this is by following the age-old holistic routine of Suryanamaskars; references of which are found even in the ancient Vedas and Puranas.
Suryanamaskar or the Indian ritual of saluting the sun comprises a rhythmic combination of yogic postures and breathing exercises. The complete series includes 12 basic postures performed in cyclical pattern to benefit all three levels of human consciousness: Physical, mental and spiritual. However, for beginners to understand the true significance and impact of each position, the entire series should be broken down and practiced one posture at a time. Here are 12 easy-to-perform Suryanamaskar positions to improve your overall fitness level.
Benefits: The benefits of these 12 series of Suryanamaskars or sun salutation postures are manifold. The very fact that the process provides the combined benefits of Asanas, Pranayama and exercise gives a clear idea about its real significance.
Contraindications: Although Suryanamaskar is one of the best techniques to stretch your entire body, you should take certain precautions if you are suffering from certain ailments and health conditions like ulcer, inflamed joints, hypertension and vertigo. In fact, you should completely avoid these postures if you are diagnosed with cardiac disorders, hernia and severe renal disorders.
When to perform: Normally, the most ideal time to perform Suryanamaskars is at sunrise on an empty stomach. This is considered to be the most “spiritually” favorable time of the day by orthodox Hindus and hence, most people select this time period for practicing.
Pranamasana: Stand straight with both feet touching and facing the direction of the sun. Bring the hands together, palm-to-palm and the inhale and exhale slowly in a rhythmic pattern.
Hasta Uttanasana: This is the second and eleventh pose of the Suryanamaskar cyclical process. It involves stretching the body with inhalation and raising the hands above the head while standing on a flat surface. As the hands are raised gradually, the back momentarily bears the weight of the body which strengthens it.
Hastapaadasana: Inhale and gradually bend forward to rest both the palms on the ground and your forehead or nose on your knees without bending them. Although you might find this step difficult to perform initially, you can start by merely touching the ground with your finger tips instead of your palms and then proceeding gradually.
Aekpaadprasarnaasana: Also known as the equestrian pose, this involves inhaling while bringing the right foot to the back of the mat on the toes to resemble a lunge position. Place the left leg at right angles and using the finger tips for support, bend the extended leg at the knee and then look up.
Dandasana: Keeping your body straight, hold your breath and shift your left leg back. Gradually shift your weight to your hands and feet.
Ashtanga Namaskara: While in the prone position, exhale and lower your body to the floor until eight of your body parts touch the floor including your forehead, chest, and two palms, both knees and both feet.
Bhujangasana: This step is also called the cobra position and involves swinging the body forward, lowering the hips and straightening the arms while inhaling. Following this, tilt the face upwards and arch the back.
Adho Mukha Svanasana: Without moving your hands and feet, curl your toes while exhaling and raise your back and hips. Elongate your spine and knees and look at your stomach.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana: Shift your right foot between your hands and stretch the left knee outwards. Move your head back and try to push from the hips so as to create a curve.
Uttanasana: Exhale and bring the left foot forward next to the right. This step is then followed by Hasta Uttanasana and Pranamasana.
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