Surya namaskar features in the latest update to the Oxford English Dictionary, and for good reason
Surya namaskar or sun salutation is a sequence of asanas that help loosen, stretch, massage, tone all the muscles, joints and internal organs of the body. The practice strengthens the back, and helps balance the metabolic system. In today’s parlance, it is the equivalent of a full-body workout, except, it is not just about building strength or flexibility, but is also about improving the reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine and digestive system. The emphasis on breathing exercises that go along with the asanas, give you increasing mental clarity by bringing fresh oxygen to the brain. Do it every day and it works like a tonic! In the ashtanga-based system, the series is divided into surya namaskara A and surya namaskar B. All the movements are synchronised with breathing so it becomes a dynamic flow.
1. Stand in Tadasana, or mountain pose, feet firmly grounded into the floor, shoulder blades dropped down towards the hip. Maintain the natural curvature of the spine.
2. Inhale; raise hands up, palms parallel to each other or joined in namaste position. Stretch the entire body and length it upwards.
3. Exhale, and bend forward from the pelvis to touch your palms to the floor. If you have a week back, bend the knees or make a mountain of your finger tips and place them beside the feet.
4. Inhale; raise your upper body and length the torso. Draw the abdominals in and extend the spine.
5. Exhale; step the right leg back in high lunge, then the left leg and get into a plank position. Contract the abdominal muscles and support the body on your palms and toes. Drop the knees-chest-chin on the floor.
6. Inhale; press the palms into the floor and lift the upper body into the Bhujangasana or cobra pose, pressing the legs firmly down into the floor.
7. Exhale; still pressing the palms firmly into the floor, lift up, keeping knees straight, into Adhosvasana Mukhasana, or downward dog.
8. Inhale; step the right leg forward between the palms, then the left leg forward. Exhale; pressing the palms firmly into the floor, touch the forehead to bent knees.
9. Inhale; raise the arms up and join the palms together. Exhale; come back into Tadasana.