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Sun or Surya plays a vital role in our lives. No life is possible on the earth without the Sun. Surya Namaskar is also known as ‘Sun Salutation’, a technique which is being used since ancient times to pay respect or to express gratitude towards the sun which enables all forms of life on our planet. The sun is the source of energy and therefore this yoga asana is a powerful and effective way to awaken our body and mind.
We often get so busy in our lives that we barely have the time to exercise or meditate. While our lifestyles require physical strength, it is also now more important than ever to take care of our mental health and spend some time in a day to focus on calming our minds.
Surya Namaskar asanas help in balancing the three important segments of our body: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. The Kapha Dosha consists of the elements of water and earth, the Pitta Dosha of fire and water, the Vata Dosha of space and air. To enable our bodies to function in proper harmony, it is important to have the correct balance of these elements.
Origin of Surya Namaskar
The ancient Rishis of India believed the many different parts of our body are controlled by different devas or the divine impulses. The solar plexus which is located behind the navel is the central point of our body. Solar plexus is also known as the second brain of the body which is connected to the sun. According to the Rishis, practicing Surya Namaskar regularly can enhance these solar plexuses and thereby increases a person’s creative power and intuitive abilities.
Here’s why you should perform Surya Namaskar every day:
Benefits of Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar yoga is believed to activate each and every part of the body which means that this powerful yoga pose has a great impact on the heart, intestine, stomach, liver, throat, chest, legs, and the muscles of our body.
Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation has several other benefits for the body as well, such as:
Surya Namaskar for Weight Loss
According to research, Surya Namaskar is an excellent exercise for weight management. For both men and women, Surya Namaskar is efficient in improving muscle strength, toning the lower body, and enhancing strength, especially in the abdominal region and back muscles.
Using medicines, following strict diets, lifting weights in the gym can cause a lot of damage to the body. Therefore, several yoga asanas are specially prepared to target the muscles in our body and attain an appropriate Body Mass Index (BMI) naturally. Many people have experienced weight loss after performing Surya Namaskar regularly. Performing around 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar can burn approximately 156 calories.
Surya Namaskar for the Mind:
Practicing Surya Namaskar asana has shown to have a positive impact on enhancing the cognitive functions of the brain while also relaxing the mind. Sun Salutation when coupled with chants in every pose, can help provide the proper balance between body, breath, and mind. Chanting mantras while performing the asanas can increase spirituality and establish a deep sense of gratitude towards life, thereby providing an absolute peace to the mind and the soul.
You can also listen to the mantras on a device while performing the asanas or can chant it in your mind or verbally.
The 12 Poses of Surya Namaskar and Steps to Perform Them:
To notice the benefits of Surya Namaskar, it important to perform the Suryanamskar steps systematically and with a clear mind and focus.
Here is a step-by-step guide to the Surya Namaskar positions:
1. Pranamasana or the Prayer Pose
The first pose of Surya Namaskar asana can be accomplished by standing in an upright position on your yoga mat and placing your feet close to each other. Take a deep breath and notice your chest expand, relax your shoulders. While inhaling, take a deep breath, raise your arms from the sides, and as you exhale join your palms together in front of your chest in a Namaste. This is the prayer position.
Benefits of Pranamasana: Relaxes the nervous system and helps in maintaining body balance. It also helps relieve stress and anxiety.
2. Hasta Uttanasana or the Raised Arms Pose
Join your palms together and take a deep breath. Lift your arms up while slightly bending backward, you can push the pelvis forward a little, stretch back and lengthen the spine. Keep the biceps close to your ears while simultaneously stretching the whole body up from the heels.
Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana: Stretches and tones the abdominal muscles. Beneficial for people suffering from asthma, lower back pain, and fatigue. It also aids digestion.
3. Hasta Padasana or the Standing Forward Bend Pose
Exhale and bend forward to touch your toes with your fingers. You can bend your knees initially if necessary. Do not bend your spine and keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Try to touch the floor with your fingers, pressing into your heels softly. Inhale while coming back up.
Benefits of Hasta Padasana: Stretches the hamstrings and opens up the legs. Helps in curing insomnia, osteoporosis, headache, anxiety and stress.
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana or the Lunge Pose
After coming back from Hasta Padasana, bend your knees slightly and rest your palms on the floor in line with your feet. Inhale and bring your right knee towards the right side of your chest while stretching the left leg backward. Balance your body and raise your head facing forward.
Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana: Strengthens the spine and increases the lung capacity. Relieves indigestion and constipation.
5. Chaturanga Dandasana or the Plank Pose
From the Ashwa Sanchalanasana, inhale and bring your right leg back, next to the left leg. Keep your hands under your shoulders, keeping your body parallel to the ground. Your entire body should be in one straight line. Breathe and balance.
Benefits of Chaturanga Dandasana: Keeps the mind calm while stretching the arms, chest, shoulder, and spine. This pose also improves posture.
6. Ashtanga Namaskar or the Eight Limbed Pose
Also known as salutations using eight points or parts. To perform this pose, exhale and bring your knees down to the floor. Rest your chin on the floor and raise your hips slightly from the ground. Both your hands, knees, chin and the chest should touch the floor while your posterior should be suspended in the air. Breathe and hold the position for as long as comfortable.
Benefits of Ashtanga Namaskar: Increases flexibility and stretches the back and the spine. Strengthens the muscles and relieves stress.
7. Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose
Gently slide forward and rest your legs and abdomen flat on the ground. Place your palms close to your chest and while inhaling apply the pressure on the hand and slowly raise the upper body, your pelvic region touching the ground. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, feet tucked in, and look forward. Your head and torso should resemble a cobra with a raised hood.
Benefits of Bhujangasana: Stretches the shoulders, back, chest, and spine. Improves flexibility and mood.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana or the Downward Facing Dog
Lie down, releasing your chest from the Bhujangasana, your back facing the ceiling. Exhale and lift your hips gently to form an inverted ‘V’. Straighten your elbows and knees while trying to keep your heels on the ground. With every exhale and inhale, go deeper into the stretch. Look towards your navel.
Benefits of Adho Mukha Svanasana: Calms the nerves and increases blood circulation. Relieves stress and strengthens the arms and legs. In women, this yoga asana relieves symptoms of menopause.
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana or the High Lunge Pose
Coming back from the Adho Mukha Svanasana, bring your right foot forward. Keep your left leg stretched behind placing your feet on the mat and now slowly look forward. Gently push the hips towards the floor to deepen the stretch.
Get a better stretch this time since you have performed this step before.
Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana: Strengthens the spine and increases the lung capacity. Relieves indigestion and constipation
10. Hasta Padasana the Standing Forward Bend
Inhale and bring your left foot forward, next to your right foot. Bend your torso while keeping the position of your hands intact, slowly exhale and touch the ground with your fingers.
Benefits of Hasta Padasana: Stretches the hamstrings and opens up the legs. It helps in curing insomnia, osteoporosis, headache, anxiety, and stress.
11. Hasta Uttanasana or the Raised Arms Pose
Inhale while lifting your upper body, join the palms and raise your hands upwards. Bend backward and stretch your spine.
Yes, you have done this before.
12. Pranamasana or the Prayer Pose
Coming back to where we had started, notice that we made a circle of these 12 poses.
As mentioned in the first step, exhale and stand straight, relaxing your body. Lower the arms in front of your chest in a Namaste.
Yoga has several benefits for both, the mind, and the body. Practicing yoga asanas every day has proven to effectively improve strength and endurance amongst people, especially senior citizens.
Surya Namaskar yoga is one of the easiest ways to keep your body and mind active while also alleviating several diseases and body pain. These Suryanamaskar steps will surely help you achieve your long-term health goals.
To achieve the maximum advantages of Surya Namaskar follow these 12 steps for 12 cycles, if it is too much in the beginning, start with smaller cycles.
Did you enjoy performing Surya Namaskar? Do tell us your experience in the comments section.
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