Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let the Sunshine in with Surya Namaskar

Pose of the Month: Surya Namaskar
By Rebecca Merritt

In honor of the partial Solar Eclipse on the first of July, instead of offering one pose of the month, we encourage you to take on twelve! Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations, workout the entire body and help focus the mind. Going deeper, they help us to surrender and take on each day. By saluting the sun we welcome good health and strength into our lives.

Sri K. Parrabhi Jois says, "... let me repeat that no asana practice is complete without sun worship. Without its focusing of mental energies, yoga practice amounts to little more than gymnastics and, as such, loses meaning and proves fruitless. Indeed the Surya Namaskara should never be mistaken for mere physical exercise --for something incidental, that is, that simply precedes the asanas of yoga. Therefore, it is necessary, before beginning the sun salutations, to pray to Surya [...] to bestow upon us the good fortune of having only good thoughts, of hearing and speaking only good words, and of attaining a sound and strong body, so that we may have a long life and, one day, achieve oneness with God."

If you have taken class at New York Yoga you are familiar with this powerful flow. Here is your chance to try it at home on your own step by step. You’ve been waiting for the right moment to start a daily yoga practice, right? Well, today is your day!

1. Begin in Tadasana, Mountain Pose.

2. Next, inhale and raise your arms overhead into Urdhva Hastasana, Upward Hand Pose. Reach your heart and arms to the sun.

3. As you exhale, fold forward into Uttanasana, Standing Forward Bend.

4. Inhale and lengthen your spine forward into Ardha Uttanasana, Half Standing Forward Bend, and lift the gaze. Extend the spine.

5. Exhale and step or hop your feet back behind you into Plank Pose. Hands are shoulder width apart, and feet are at hip distance.

6. Exhale and lower to Chaturanga Dandasana. Elbows are bent at 90 degrees; hold the body in one long line, pressing back through the heels.

7. Inhale your heart and chest forward into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Upward-Facing Dog, pulling the shoulders back and opening the collarbones.

8. Exhale, tuck or roll over the toes, coming into Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward-Facing Dog. Ground down through your hands and feet, lengthening the spine, drawing the hips back. Take five breaths here.

9. On your exhale, bend your knees and peek forward between your hands. At the bottom of your exhale hop or step your feet between your hands and inhale lift the heart to Ardha Uttanasana.

10. Exhale back to Uttanasana.

11. Inhale, reverse swan dive arms out and up overhead coming to Urdhva Hastasana.

12. Exhale and bring hands to heart center, Anjali Mudra. Remain here for a few breaths and then continue on to your next round of Surya Namaskar.

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