The Sun Salutation is a twelve step sequence used in many yoga classes for flexibility, strength and balance.

Some forms of yoga will begin classes with the sun salutation sequence series of poses. They are twelve postures that increase one's stretching, body strength and peace of mind.

The sun salutation sequence is loved by many for it's benefits and variety of poses. It targets all the areas of the body in a flowing and enjoyable way.

There are many physical and mental benefits of yoga. Regular yoga increases body strength and improves the muscle tone. There are specific asana, which help you in overcoming body pains such as back pains, joint pains etc. Yoga helps in reducing stress and bring calmness to your mind. Because the sun salutation incorporates so many poses generally used in yoga, it has wonderful results for improving the mind and body. Remember that there are different schools of yoga and each has their own variation of the sun salutation.

There are many advantages of surya namaskar and they include: strengthening of abdominal muscles, weight loss, preventing skin disorders by increasing circulation, making the spine flexible, improving the monthly menstruation and cramping , calming anxiety, improving the nervous system and memory, normalizing the thyroid gland and improving the digestive system.

However, there are some basic things, which you must keep in mind while performing surya namaskar. It should only be performed on an empty stomach. You should face towards the sun if you are outdoors. You can learn surya namaskar from books, internet or at yoga retreats. It is easier to learn via a class or dvd instruction because if you need to bend down to consult a book it will get you out of the zone.

There are twelve basic steps of sun salutation in yoga. Keep in mind you may have learned it differently in another class or tradition as there are a number or ways to perform the sequence. The first step is the pranamasana i.e. sun salutation prayer pose. You stand erect with your legs joint and hands in prayer position, facing towards the sun.

The second step is Hastauttanasana (raised arm posture). In this step, you will stretch your hands above your head with palms facing upward. Now arch back and stretch your body. You will inhale your breath in this step.

The third step is Padahastasana (hand to foot posture). In this step, you exhale your breadth and bend forward. Try to touch your palms to feet and your neck to the knees. Do not bend your knees and just stretch as far down as you can bend.

The fourth step is Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture). Slowly extend your left leg back with knee touching to the ground while inhaling. The right knee is bent and palms face the floor. Keep your neck stretched upwards. Do not bend your elbows.

The fifth step is Parvatasana (Mountain posture); bring your right foot backward to join the left one while exhaling. Your buttocks should be facing upwards and head down.

In the sixth step, drop your feet to the ground with buttocks facing upwards. This step is known as Ashtanga Namaskara (Salutation with eight limbs) all eight limbs touch the ground.

The seventh step is known as Bhujangasana (Cobra posture): inhale and push your chest upward and forward with your hands. Do not let your legs and heels drif apart if possible, do not bend your elbows to hunch at your shoulders.

Parvatasana (Mountain posture) is the eighth step. In this, you exhale and bring your body back to positing five.

In the ninth step which is known as Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian posture) you will inhale and bring your body back to step four.

The tenth, eleventh and twelfth you will bring your body back to the starting position.

This is repeated a number of times and increases the limberness and joy inside.

Surya namaskar is not advised for pregnant women and patients suffering high blood pressure should check with their physician and certified yoga instructor. Women are also advised to be gentle during the cycle and avoid certain poses.

The sun salutation is invigorating and a wonderful way to start the day.

Please remember to modify the poses according to your own abilities. Do not feel you have to be a pretzel to perform this. Just go with your own degree of flexibility.

Your flexibility will increase and you will stretch further each time.

Keep an attitude of gratitude during the sequence and stretches to enhance your practice..

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