Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) is a 12 step yoga sequence that is usually done in the morning hours facing the sun since the sun is considered to be the deity of health and long life. Starting your day with Sun Salutations helps to bring together the mind, breath and body. It brings flexibility to the spine and limbs, reduces abdominal fat and increases your breathing capacity. This sequence is done at least 5 times before beginning your regular practice (The usual number of Sun Salutations is 12).
Legs together, stand erect with your head stacked over the shoulders and hips
Position 2. Upward Salute
Inhale, raise your arms overhead
Bending backward slightly
Position 3. Forward Fold
Exhale, gradually bending forward at the hips (do not bend at the lower back) bring the palms to the mat, the fingers are in line with the toes
Bring your head to your knees (Beginner may bend the knees slightly, with practice the muscles will lengthen and the knees will straighten)
Position 4. Low Lunge
Inhale, take a big step backward with the right leg
Hands and left foot firmly rooted in the ground
Left knee is near the chest, between the hands, head slightly leaned backward
keep your knee is over the ankle
Inhale, sweep the hands overhead, (optional, sweep the hands all the way back into a backbend)
Position 5. Plank
Exhale, send the left leg backward
Inhale, feet together, knees off the floor, arm straight
Body should be in a straight line from head to foot
Position 6. Chaturanga or Head-Knees-Chest
Exhale, lower the body close to the floor into chaturanga (Beginner lower the knees, chest and forehead to the mat)
Elbows at a 90 degree angle, hugged against the body
Under your feet is in a vertical line
Position 7. Upward Dog
Exhale, lower your body to the mat, palms of the hands on the mat, directly under your shoulders, toes pointed backward
Inhale, as you push the torso away from the mat, extending the spine and safely bending backward.
Legs and knees active and not touching the mat, top of the foot on the mat
Push until your elbow/arms are straight
Position 8. Downward Dog
Exhale, lift the sitting bones and straighten your knees
Keep the feet and heels flat on the floor (Beginners may bend the knees, lifting the heels slightly off the floor, with practice the heels will remain flat on the floor).
Firmly press the palm of your hands into the mat and evenly distribute the weight to your hands and feet.
Position 9. Low Lunge
Inhale, bringing the right foot between the hands
Exhale,bring the left foot and knee down, touching the floor
Inhale, look upward, bend the spine slightly (same as position 4.)
Position 10. Forward Fold
Exhale, bringing the left leg forward
Knees straight, bring the head to the knees as in position 3.
Position 11. Upward Salute
Inhale, as you raise the hands overhead
Slightly bending backward as in position 2
Position 12. Mountain Pose
Exhale, bring your arms down to your side and relax.
These 12 positions make up one round of Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations. Repeat 3-12 times daily. Apart from the benefits I listed in the beginning, sun salutations also helps to strengthen the muscles and joints, improves blood circulation giving you glowing radiant skin, better digestive function, aids insomnia, brings down blood sugar levels, ensures a regular menstrual cycle, and helps the body detoxify itself.
Remember your body is your temple and it is your vehicle in this plane of existence. Treat your body with care and kindness each day, make healthy choices in food and habbits!