Traditionally practiced at sunrise to greet the new day, Surya (sun) Namaskar (greeting) is an all over yoga practice in one flowing sequence. Move through the postures with the 'in' and 'out' breath creating heat, flexibility, cleansing and toning.
Practice at any time of the day to refresh body and mind or to warm up before other yoga postures. Breathing through your nose, keep the flow of the breath even, inhaling to lift and extend, exhaling to fold forward, to soften and release. With practice the body becomes stronger and more flexible, the breathing improves and the sequence becomes a moving meditation.
Moving with your in and out breath...
Begin in Samasthiti with your feet together and palms together in front of your chest. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Always breathe in and out through the nostrils, unless your nose is blocked.
Release the arms by the side coming into Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Press down into the heels and lift the knee caps and thighs, activating the legs. Lengthen the spine out of the hips, roll the shoulders back and open the chest. Have a soft eye gaze forward at eye level. Tadasana aligns the body and develops concentration.
Inhale to raise your arms above your head into Hasta Tadasana. Look up to your hands or stay looking forward. Feel how the spine lengthens when you stretch the arms up. Lift up out of the hips and keep the legs firm.
Exhale to fold forward and down into Uttanasana (forward extension) placing your hands beside the feet or hold the legs wherever you can reach. Either have the legs straight or bend the knees if the hamstrings are tight or if there is lower back strain. Uttanasana lengthens the spine and stretches the back of the legs, it also stimulates the digestive and excretory systems improving the function of the organs and stimulating the elimination of excess fat around the waist.
Inhale, look up coming onto your fingertips or holding the legs. Lengthen your breastbone forward and press the thighs back. The spine extends here as the legs stay strong and activated. This posture lengthens the spine, tones the spinal cord and nerves of the legs.
Exhale and step or lightly jump back into plank pose. back into plank pose. On the same exhalation either come all the way down to , keeping the elbows in and the whole body off the floor except for the hands and feet. Chaturanga Dandasana strengthens the muscles of the arms and wrists and tones the belly. Beginners can rest the whole body down onto the floor.
As you inhale, roll onto the tops of your feet and come into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose). Bringing the chest up through, roll the shoulders back to open the chest and stand tall on your arms. Keep the legs lifted off the floor and point the toes back. If this is too strong keep the legs on the floor and lift up only half way with the head and chest so there is no strain in the lower back. This posture softens and stretches the back, stimulating the nervous system and circulation to the abdominal organs as well as strengthens the arms and legs.
Exhale and roll over the feet pressing back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downard Facing Dog Pose), lifting the hips back and up, moving the chest towards the thighs. Have the feet hip width apart and the hands shoulder width apart, fingers spread, palms pressing firmly into the floor. Drop the head and gaze between the feet. Keep the legs straight, pressing the heels firmly into the ground stretching open the back of the legs, or bend the knees if you need to. This posture lengthens the spine, tones the arms and legs, stretches the hamstrings and increases blood flow to the brain. Adho Mukha Svanasana can also be a place to rest in the sequence, holding for five slow breaths.
Inhale look forward and step or lightly jump the feet to the hands. Exhale and fold forward, bring the head in towards the legs, coming back into Uttanasana.
Inhale and extend your arms out wide to come all the way up into Hasta Tadasana, arms over head, bring the palms together, look up and lengthen the spine.
Exhale, release the arms down by the side and come back into Tadasana (Mountain Pose), whole body in a straight line. Return your eye gaze to a point in front of you and either close the eyes and rest now or stay with your breath and continue with more Surya Namaskar's.