The Sun Salutation and its variations

The Sun Salutation and its variations

Have you noticed that most yoga classes begin the session with a yoga practice known as the Sun Salutation?

This is a beautiful ancient practice that the ancients traditionally practiced at dawn to greet the sun and welcome the new day. Coupled with this, ancient yogis saw this practice as a way to harness and draw the solar energy into your body – thereby increasing your sense of energy and levels of vitality.

Also known by its Sanskrit name Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, the Sun Salutation consists of a series of 12 poses that form a graceful and energizing sequence and are often included as part of the warm-up in your yoga class.

There are many benefits derived from practicing the Sun Salutation.

Seven benefits of practicing Surya Namaskar

1. Improves the flexibility of the spine as it allows the body to stretch forward and backward.

2. Increase circulation.

3. Brings you into harmony with your breath. If you find that your breathing becomes irregular, adapt the practice so that your breath becomes steady and rhythmic.

4. Reconnects and energizes your solar plexus – your fiery energy center.

5. Stretches and strengthens the whole body.

6. The rhythmic nature of the sequence helps center, ground and realign your energy.

7. You reconnect with your innate sense of inner power and inner strength.

How to make a sun salutation

When you first practice the Sun Salutation, it can feel quite strange and complicated. As a yoga teacher, I often see students struggle with their coordination and strength to complete a cycle. However, once you get the hanging sequence down, this yoga sequence is a most rewarding experience.

Ideally, it is best to learn this sequence from a qualified yoga teacher. She will be able to walk you through the sequence and ensure your technique is correct.

Different schools and styles of yoga have their own variation of the Sun Salutation. However, most styles follow a similar structure below:

Begin in Mountain Pose, then move to Prayer Pose, progress to Upright Backbend followed by Head to Knee Forward Bend, then move into Drop Pose, then Plank Pose, followed by Cobra or Downward Dog, the sequence ends by returning to lunge pose, bending forward, and finally standing in mountain pose. The sequence is then repeated, leading with the opposite leg.

Ideally, as your strength and confidence build, aim to complete at least 3 – 7 rounds (one round consists of leading with one foot first, then the other foot)

Variations: Seated Sun Salutation/Standing Chair

Although traditionally done as a standing sequence, the Sun Salutation can be easily adapted if you suffer from back pain or have trouble standing. You can practice sitting in a chair (or on the side of a bed) or standing up using a chair for support.

I teach yoga to a group of elders and they find the seated Sun Salutation practice a great way to stretch and loosen stiff joints and tired body parts.

Nishala Joy Devi in ​​her book The Healing Power of Yoga (Three Rivers Press, 2000) offers you detailed instructions on how to practice a seated version of the Sun Salutation as well as a standing version with a chair. Both options are easy to follow and adapt to your specific needs.

As you can see, this practice offers you a complete sequence of yoga exercises. You can practice the Sun Salutation in a seated position, a standing version with a chair, or standing without any supports. You can also vary the speed to make it more energetic and aerobic, or slow down and use it as a relaxing bedtime workout.

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