Light and life go hand in hand, a garden cannot thrive if it does not get enough sun light. For thousands of years Hindus have seen the sun as more than just a ball of gas that allows us to see objects more clearly throughout the day. They view the sun as the giver of life and the heart of the world. Sun salutations were created as a way to honor the sun and the life that it has provided. Sun salutations are a series of 12 yoga positions, 8 different poses and 4 that are the same at the beginning and end in reverse order. Many people today don’t do sun salutations as a means of honor sun, but rather for physical and mental health benefits. Side effects of practicing sun salutations for 20 minutes a day include the following:
- Reduced stress
- Improved overall mood
- Improved physical strength
- Cleared mind through meditation
- Sense of respect for your body
- Weight loss
- Cardiovascular health if practiced at a fast pace
- Improved digestion.
Sun salutations are great for beginners in yoga because it is a very simple sequence to follow. It was one of the first sequences I learned when I began dabbling in yoga a few years ago. Below is a step by step guide to a sun salutation and physical benefits of each pose.
- Mountain Pose: Good posture, leg and core strength, breathing regulation, core and hip toning.
- Upward Salute: Lengthens spine and core
- Standing Forward Fold: Lengthens spine, stretches back and hamstring
- Half Forward Fold: Lower back and core strength, lengthens spine, stretches backs of thighs and glutes
- Four-Limbed Staff Pose: Full body strengthening
- Up-Dog Pose: Full body strengthening, opens chest, aligns spine
- Down-Dog Pose: Upper body strength, opens chest, stretches entire back
- High Lunge: Lower body strength, lengthens spine, opens chest, stretches legs and groin
One sun salutation sequence can go as long or as short as you like, and you can do as many as you like. I find that taking 5 minutes in the morning to run through 1-2 sequences significantly improves my outlook for the day. Even doing a few sequences in the evening after a long day at work help me sleep better because my mind is clear, and I am more relaxed. I tend to slow my sun salutations down in the evening when compared to in the morning. I hope that you try out a sequence or two this week!