New Year offers everyone an excuse to start afresh. Every week, Sumit Manav of Lifestyle Yoga (www.lifestyleyoga.ae) will bring you a series of yoga postures to practise at home
Sun salutation or Surya Namaskar: Many people in the West look for the best exercise routine to help them stay in shape. Here is something that has been around for thousands of years and has withstood the test of time. It strengthens the body, circulation, the breathing, and keeps the body limber and in shape. And you can have this completely free of charge, without a fitness coach, by simply following these instructions.
Surya Namaskara is a series of 12 physical postures. These alternating backward and forward bending postures flex and stretch the spinal column through their maximum range giving a profound stretch to the whole body.
Often, after a hard day’s work, we just flop down on the couch, (apparently) relaxing our bodies, but it is not so. The stagnant energies remain locked up and the organs remain de-oxygenated to a large extent.
Surya Namaskar has a deep effect in detoxifying the organ through copious oxygenation and has a deeper relaxing effect.
The 12 Postures...
1 Pranamasana (Salutation posture)
Stand erect with feet together. Join the palms together in front of the chest. Concentrate on standing straight. This posture helps to induce a state of relaxation and calmness. It activates the anahata chakra. Exhale fully.
2 Hastauttanasana (Raised arm posture)
Inhaling stretch both arms above the head, palms facing upward. Arch the back and stretch the whole body. This posture stretches the chest and the abdomen and lifts the Prana (energy) to the upper parts of the body propelled by inhalation.
3 Padahastasana (Hand to foot posture)
Exhaling, bend the body forward and down, keeping the spine straight. Keep the legs perpendicular to the ground. The knees may be allowed to bend a little if needed. This posture massages the abdominal organs, especially the liver, kidneys, pancreas, uterus and ovaries. The spinal nerves get a healthy flow of blood as they are stretched and toned. The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh and calf muscles are stretched and toned. Inversion increases blood flow to the brain. The Prana is channelled to the lower regions of the body propelled by exhalation.
4 Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture)
On your next inhalation, extend the left leg back and drop the knee to the ground. The right knee is bent and kept between the hands and the right foot placed flat on the ground. Lift the spine and open the chest.
5 Parvatasana (Mountain posture)
Upon exhalation, bring the right leg back to join with the left leg. Simultaneously raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms, so that the body forms a triangle with the floor. Try to place the heels flat on the ground. This posture strengthens the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs, stretches the calf muscles and Achilles’ tendons and makes the spine straight and taut. It relieves varicose veins and tones spinal nerves. Maintaining the posture take a deep inhalation.
6 Ashtanga Namaskara (Salutation with eight limbs)
Exhaling gently, drop both knees to the ground and slowly slide the body down at an angle as you bring the chest and chin to the ground. Your toes, knees, chest, hands and chin should touch the floor. The buttocks are kept up. Hold the breath. This posture develops the chest and strengthens arms. It sends additional blood to this area, helping to rejuvenate the nerves.
7 Bhujangasana (Cobra posture)
On inhalation, lower the hips while pushing the chest forward and upward with the hands, until the spine is fully arched and the head is facing up. The knees and lower abdomen remain above the floor. This pose helps relieve many ailments such as asthma, constipation, indigestion, kidney and liver problems.
8 Parvatasana (Mountain posture)
Exhale and get back to posture 5.
9 Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture)
Inhale and swing the right leg forward between the hands. The left leg remains back. Resume posture 4
10 Padahastasana (Hand to foot posture)
Exhaling, bring the left foot forward. Join both legs and resume posture 3.
11 Hastauttanasana (Raised arm posture)
Inhale, raise the trunk up and bend backward. Resume posture 2.
12 Pranamasana (Salutation posture)
Straighten the body and bring the hands in front of the chest. Resume posture 1.
1 Makes the spine and waist flexible.
2 Tones the digestive system by the alternate stretching and compression of abdominal organs. It activates digestion and gets rid of constipation and dyspepsia.
3.Thoroughly ventilates the lungs, and oxygenates the blood.
4.Normalises the activity of the endocrine glands - especially the thyroid gland.
5.Helps reduce fat.
Who should NOT do Surya Namaskar
Pregnant women should not practise this after the third month of pregnancy.
Hernia patients and those suffering from high blood pressure should avoid this.
People suffering from back conditions should seek proper advice before commencing Surya Namaskar.