Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar as its called in Hindi, is a sequence of yoga postures offers extraordinary fitness benefits! It consists of 12 mudras which when performed slowly gives it an impression of slow yoga dance, comprised mostly of forward and backward bending movements.
Sun Salutation increases flexibility in the whole body. It is performed in the hatha yoga format of uniting breath, posture, and mindfulness. This unique combination helps in stress reduction, enhanced quality of breathing, relaxation, and increased vitality!
Sun Salutation starts with Standing Neutral Posture which is a preparatory stage for the chain of stretches. Next is the Swaying Tree Pose which strengthens upper back. Followed by this is Forward Bend for increasing flexibility in the hamstrings. Next is Plank Pose for upper body, abdominal, and low-back muscles. Lowered Plank is to strengthen the abdomen and low back, upper back, shoulders, and especially, the back of the arms. Hands-free Cobra and Cobra Poses are for lower back. Upward Facing Dog stretches the arms, chest and shoulders.
Pose of the Child acts as a counter-balance pose to Upward Facing Dog, Cobra or Hands-free Cobra. Downward Facing Dog is for upper body strength and Forward Bend for abdominal muscles and then back to Swaying Tree and Standing Neutral Pose.
Sun Salutation should be performed cautiously preferably under proper guidance. People suffering form high blood pressure and back problems should not perform it. Women during menses and pregnancy should avoid this asan. And of course, avoid any posture or movement that causes any kind of pain or discomfort.
Once you are able to establish your comfort zone, regular practice of this asan will result in benefits far to be described in words!!