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Surya Namaskar - Sun Salutations
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October 11, 2010 - 11:19 pm
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Sun Salutations - Yoga Practice Easily Performed in Any Comfortable Space

By Heather L Johnston

Have you ever wanted to experience yoga within the comfort of your own home, but have no idea how to put together a simple practice? You will find many yoga postures between the covers of books but how to choose the poses that will be right for your level of practice?

Traditionally, Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) were performed to honour the life giving energies of the rising sun. Twelve yoga postures were chosen to correspond to the 12 signs of the Zodiac, and were performed each morning. Convenient for even today, those same 12 yoga poses/postures are easily performed, and are quite wonderful to perform, even with the rising sun! I have done them many times at 4 am, while the house is peaceful and quieting. These 12 postures or Sun Salutations, flow into a complete and balanced yoga practice for any age or level.

DVDs, videos, or You Tube presentations can walk you through the yoga Sun Salutations (if you prefer to try them at home). A Certified Yoga Instructor is also a fabulous choice.

Once you get the feel of one round of Sun Salutations, you may wish to extend your practice to 3-5 rounds of the same 12 postures. The entire sequence has got a wonderful flow, from pose to pose. The forward bends and back bends resemble a kind of scissoring motion, opening the body /closing the body. Inhaling/exhaling. Expansion/contraction. Prana/apana.

It is important to have a physical exam and the physicians "go ahead" prior to any fitness adventure, including yoga (for example unmedicated high blood pressure could reach dangerous levels when the arms are held above the head in a reaching pose or, when the head goes below the heart level in a forward bend pose.) Have your medical exam prior to any new exercise regime!

At first your concentration is on familiarizing the self with language & position. Example: "Downward Dog, or Cobra, or Samasthiti are funny names for yoga poses,"and, "How do I do that again?"

As a beginner, you might start with a practice of one round of Sun Salutation (Surya Namskar). Follow the instructions but listen to your own body. The body will indicate when you are enjoying a stretch and when you have gone far enough. When you are comfortable, challenge yourself to 3-5rounds.

Next you are fine tuning your position and breathing with the movements. Example: Inhaling - arms to the sky; Exhaling - down into forward bend, and so on. One inhalation, or one exhalation per pose (one pose might take 4 seconds). Poses can be held much longer, to build strength, stamina, balance. You can decide how long to hold them.

Movement becomes more natural, muscles more flexible, and the spine more supple with regular practice. By the second week of daily practice, try increasing the number of rounds to 5-10.

Meditation in motion - a beautiful thing. There comes a time, that you can enjoy your Sun Salutations and rhythmic breathing without a thought. THIS is a blissful moment. The whole world melts away, the fluid motion becomes a dance. A cosmic dance. So smooth and graceful that it seems to happen all by itself. Nothing else in the universe exists. It is a true yoga - a joining with all that there is in the universe, and being entirely present in the moment.

Increasing the number of rounds and efficiency (quicker) as time goes on, leads to noticeable improvement in general fitness, circulation, heart rate, respiratory rate, more muscle tone and shape, and so on. It can become aerobic, if you want it to be.

Your yoga practice can be performed at home, anywhere that has about 3 x 7 feet of floor space. All you need is a sticky yoga mat and some form of instruction on "Yoga Sun Salutation" practice. Enjoy the grace of yoga in comfort, in your own space, and when ready to venture further out-an experienced yoga instructor will be pleased help you deepen your practice.

Heather Johnston is a Certified Yoga Instructor, Registered Dental Hygienist and writer based in Cambridge, Ontario Canada. Visit Heather at

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