Yoga is widely recognized not only as a great source of exercise, but as an incredibly effective way to calm the body and mind.
Many studies have proven that yoga can have myriad benefits on improving wellbeing, reducing the symptoms of a number of mental illnesses including depression and anxiety.
Perhaps the most widely-practiced yoga sequence is the sun salutation.
It requires minimal experience, little more than ten minutes of your time, and can act as a powerful means to starting every morning feeling positive and energized.
Connecting With Nature
Surya Namaskara, or sun salutation, is a yoga warm-up routine commonly practiced in the morning. Yogis worldwide awaken daily to welcome the the dawn of each new day, saluting the sun as it rises.
Many prefer to perform the sun salutation outdoors, barefoot on the earth.
By grounding the body, exercising and breathing in fresh, clean air, performing this yogic practice each morning can provide the basis for a happy, healthy way of living.
The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is a powerful mind-body practice, combining physical exercise with controlled breathing and meditation.
Many practitioners use yoga as an integrative approach to treating a number of illnesses, both physical and mental.
To list just a handful of yoga’s benefits:
- Reduce stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve mental health
- Boost energy levels
- Improve fitness
How to Practice a Sun Salutation
- Begin in mountain pose. Start your practice in ‘mountain pose’, standing tall, hands by your side, spine erect. Take a long, deep breath. Here, you may like to set an intention for your practice. This may be something like, ‘I will feel revitalised at the end of my practice’ - a goal that you wish to achieve through practicing yoga.
- Exhale and fold forward. As you breathe out, relax and allow your upper body to fall forwards. With your legs bent, still standing, touch your fingertips to the floor in front of your toes. Relax your head and neck and continue to breath deeply.
- Plank. After several breaths here, plant your palms and kick your feet back, adopting a plank pose. As though about to execute a push-up, keep your arms and back straight and your muscles strong. Don’t allow your shoulders to slump.
- Bend your arms. Bending your arms, bring your body to the floor as though conducting half of a press-up.
- Upward dog. Inhale and push up again, however this time, keep your lower body to the floor. You should feel a stretch in your stomach as your head and shoulders push up to the sky.
- Downward dog. Next, revert back to your plank. From here, raise your bottom high, aiming to form an L-shape with your body. Your head should be parallel with your arms, your bottom pointing up towards the sky.
- Return to forward fold. Slowly walk your legs forward until they are touching your hands, adopting the forward fold position from step 2.
- Finish in mountain pose. To complete your sun salutation, return to mountain pose. You might wish to take a few deep breaths here, noticing any changes in your state of mind. If you made an intention, revisit it here.