Feb 5, 2009

asana > surya namaskar

Surya namaskar is a circular sequence of twelve poses that exercise almost the entire body. Surya namaskar stretches the spine in a series of forward – backward motions done very effortlessly. The poses are as follows:

1. Stand straight, fold hands, exhale deeply.
2. Stretch hands and take them as backwards as you can while very slowly inhaling. This will bend your body backwards.
3. Start bending your body in a slow motion till the stretched hands touch the ground. All this while, you should be slowly exhaling.
4. Take your left leg backwards till it almost stretches. In this position, your palms will be on the ground, supporting the body; the other leg [ie. right leg] will be bent forward and head stretched upwards; and you will be inhaling.
5. Slowly take the bent leg also backwards. Hold both the legs straight and parallel to each other. Now pull the hips up so that the body bends from the waist. In this pose, your toes and palms are supporting the bent body. You have been exhaling after pose 4.
6. Hold the breath. Bring your entire body to the ground in supine position. Your arms will be bent, palms will still be touching the ground, and hips will be slightly pushed upwards.
7. Inhale and raise the upper part of your body taking the head as far upwards as possible.
8. Do pose 5.
9. Do pose 4 with the only difference that the right leg will now be straight and left one bent forward.
10. Do pose 3.
11. Do pose 2.
12. Come back to pose 1.

You might have noticed a pattern in the sequence of these 12 exercise poses: (i) they result in alternate forward and backward bending of spine; (ii) you exhale and inhale alternately; and (iii) inhalation accompanies bending backward, exhalation goes with bending forward, and the middle pose (no. 6) calls for holding the breath.

Once you have mastered the sequence, repeat the entire sequence about ten times. It will give you good exercise of the whole body.

If you happen to be suffering from back pain or hernia or acute high blood pressure, or are in advance stage of pregnancy, please do not perform surya namaskar.

Follow the general yoga guidelines and take all precautions that we have been discussing in many previous posts.

You can do surya namaskar as a stand-alone exercise or do it with other exercises. You might have noticed that surya namaskar encompasses a good number of yoga postures. However, it lacks sideward bending and so a side-bending asana such as ardha-matsyendrasana needs to be done alongwith it to make a complete asana regimen. You can replace the exercises to be done between pranayamas in the regimen for busy people suggested in an earlier post.