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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Suryanamaskara - Practice

December 24, 2005

One of the readers pointed out since there are several styles of practice of suryanamaskaras why don’t I suggest the technique we adapted in all our contacts. Hence I am giving the details here.v STITI [the starting position]: stand with back neck and head in one line with both hands folded in front of the chest in namaskara mudra.v Start with eyes closed with the sloka of respect to the sun god, Hiranmayena patrena…..v This is followed by one of the sun mantras OM HRAM MITRAYA NAMAHA, OM HREEM RAVAYE NAMAHA, OM HRUM SURYAYA NAMAHA etc. one mantra with one set of practices.v Say ‘ekam’ [one]. Inhale and bend back taking the hands all the way up and back – ardha chakrasana. v ‘Dwee’ [two]. Exhale and bend forward and down completely. Keep the palms by the side of legs, if possible on the ground – padahastasana. v ‘Treeni’ [three]. Inhale and take the [alternately right and left] leg back into comfortable position and stretch the body forward.v ‘Chatwari’ [four]. Exhale and take the other leg back to join the first leg and the whole body is in one inclined plane.v ‘Panca’ [five]. Inhale and exhale sit on the knees and bend the head down, hands stretched in front on the ground – shasahankasana.v ‘Chata’ [six]. Hold the breath [kumbhaka] flat on the floor with palms, forehead, chest knees and toes on the ground in sastanga namaskara asana.v ‘Sapta’ [seven]. Inhale and with palms pressed on the ground raise the head up into bhujangasana – the cobra pose.v ‘Astha’ [eight]. Exhale and raise the waist up stretch the hands and legs into invert v position. Pravatasana.v ‘Nava’ [nine]. Inhale and exhale and sit on knees. It is repetition of fifth pose – shasahankasana.v ‘Dasha’ [ten]. Inhale and bring the right leg forward toes in line with the palms.v ‘Ekadasha’ [eleven]. Exhale and bring the other leg forward – padahastasana.v ‘Dwadasha’ [twelve]. Inhale and come up bend back fully and retrieve into the starting position.v Start the next cycle with chanting of next mantra of surya – the sun god. BREATHING PATTERN Following the breathing pattern is important for the following reasons. The breathing will help make the process of doing the posture easy. Body and Prana have to flow together then only one is in harmony with the other. In sun postures it is taken care of. It is natural that when we bend forward the chest and stomach is compressed and if we do not exhale that will be added burden. Similarly when we bend back breathing in will enhance the bending activity. This cycle is maintained. That is how definitely when we bend forward and down we are breathing out and whenever we bend back breathing in is included. In between the breathing is so managed that when ever we are doing posture we are adapting breathing and not holding the breath.Normally our tendency when we are not aware is to hold the breath when we do some thing. It is necessary to hold breath called ‘Kumbhaka’, when we have to lift heavy weights. But it appears that this habit percolated into other activities. Even when we are bending forward or so also we hold breath, which is not necessary. This continues in almost all activities. Similarly when ever we are anxious we hold the breath. If there is a big unexpected sound around you look in that direction in wondering what it is. That time you watch you will find that while watching you are holding the breath! Logically speaking why we have to hold the breath. There is no reason. But still this sympathetic response we do as a part of our habit. Many times it is not the work which tires us, but the breath holding is many more times taxing for us than the work we do.The practice of proper breathing and the breathing while doing the posture will help us to create a counter habit of maintaining proper breathing wile doing an activity such as bending forward or bending back or twisting.In the sixth position, which is the ‘sa – asta – anga – namaskara – asana our face is directly on the floor or the carpet and our nose is nearer to the ground. If we inhale we may be inhaling dust how ever much we take care. In order to avoid this we hold the breath. This posture also provides us the practice of ‘Kumbhaka’ in a gentle way. All other postures we may breathe or not depending on the amount of time we give in the posture, but in sixth position we need to hold the breath.Fifth and ninth positions are basically relaxing position called sasahankasaka, the crescent moon posture. It is observed that especially in case of patients this posture in between the other flow of postures will help one to relax and regain the balance. Since it is a relaxing posture in this posture do normal breathing. Here in this posture therefore if needed do the normal breathing more than once.One should never be in a hurry to do the number of suryanamaskaras. It has to be done leisurely and with awareness.o If we do not follow proper breathing there may not be any damage but following proper breathing will enhance its benefits.o The benefits due to adapting proper breathing pattern are as follows.o It is found to improve the lung functions.o Deep breathing becomes possible because in these postures we systematically adapt all the three lobes, namely second posture helps in abdominal breathing fourth middle lobe and fifth upper lobe and Bhujangasana facilitates full yogic breathing!o Proper breathing will help to build stamina.o A habit of maintaining proper breathing in various day to day activities will be cultivated. o Since it has all these benefits it is very therapeutical and many times suryanamaskaras alone can be a remedy for lot of ailments.

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