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Sun Salutation (surya namaskar)

An age-old traditional sequence of twelve yoga poses.
 

Sun Salutation, or surya namaskar, is an age-old traditional sequence of twelve yoga poses that helps to connect your body, breath and mind. This sequence is useful for warming up and energizing your body at the beginning of a yoga practice.
 
This sequence of poses may be performed on its own, to strengthen and stretch all of your major muscle groups, while stimulating your cardiovascular system. The Sun Salutation, although preferred as a warm-up sequence, may also be performed as a quick practice when you do not have sufficient time. Each pose in the Sun Salutation works as a counter pose to the previous pose, allowing your spine to stretch in different directions.
 
Sun Salutation is performed in a fluid motion, without holding any of the poses, when moving from one pose to the next. It is important that you focus on your body's alignment in each pose and make sure that you are breathing easily and evenly, as you flow from one pose to the next. You should learn all the poses of the Sun Salutation sequence beforehand, before incorporating the breathing pattern of the sequence - which are included in the steps below.
 
Performing a cycle of Sun Salutation involves moving through all the poses of the sequence for both sides of your body. Beginners should start performing four cycles per practice and work up to performing twelve cycles per practice - irrespective of whether you are performing Sun Salutation as a warm-up, or on its own as a quick practice.
 
Steps:
Begin in Mountain Pose.
(Make sure your feet are no wider than hip width apart.)
Position your hands in Prayer Pose.
Circle your arms out to each side and bring your palms together overhead.
Move into Standing Back Bend.
(Make sure you keep your spine long. Do not over-arch your lower back.)
Bend forward from your hips and move into Standing Forward Bend.
Place your hands on the floor on either side of your feet.
(If your hands do not reach the floor, bend your knees slightly.)
Step your right foot back as far as possible.
Lower your right knee to the floor and move into Lunge Pose.
(Make sure your left knee is directly above your left ankle.)
Bring your left foot back next to your right foot and move into Plank Pose.
(Make sure your head and hips are in line with your spine.)
Lower your knees, chest and chin to the floor and move into Eight Point Pose.
Slide your body forward and move into Cobra Pose.
(Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and down.)
Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up into Downward-Facing Dog Pose.
Step your right foot forward and place your foot between your hands.
Lower your left knee to the floor and move into Lunge Pose.
(Make sure your right knee is directly above your right ankle.)
Bring your left foot forward next to your right foot.
Straighten your legs and raise your hips to move into Standing Forward Bend.
As you raise your upper body, circle your arms out to each side and bring your palms together overhead.
(Your upper arms should be next to your ears.)
Stretch up and back to move into Standing Back Bend.
Lower your arms to your sides and return to Prayer Pose.
Repeat steps 3 to 19, starting with your left foot in steps 7 and 13.
 
(Sun Salutation involves a fluid motion from one pose to the next. You do not need to hold each pose.)
 
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