Sun Salutations to Balance your Chakras
Sun Salutation - Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit means praising of the sun. It is a series of 12 postures that link together with a sequence of forward and backward bending movements. Each movement is coordinated with breath. Inhale as you extend or stretch, and exhale as you fold or contract. It helps distribute prana flow throughout the whole body. Prana means: 'life-force of creation' and flow means: 'the state of unified consciousness.' With regular practice you can cultivate your inner and outer energy. It is one of the most unifying and balancing sequences in yoga that can bring your chakras into complete balance.
There are seven chakras within the body. Each one represents an important centre of the body's and mind's energy, as well as different stages of spiritual development. The chakras are aligned from root to crown. The aim of yoga is to awaken and raise the energy throughout the body, from root to crown. Then we can reach a state of bliss and enlightenment.
When prana flows smoothly through your body, the chakras spin brighter and faster, and the mind and body are in a state of perfect harmony, (pure happiness and health.) When there are blockages, or chakras are closed down all together, prana cannot flow and "disease" of the body, mind or spirit can form.
Chakras involve the body and mind equally, because they are involved equally in our beings. The chakras are also linked to the endocrine system, which is composed of glands that stimulate responses in one way, or another, through the use of chemicals, transported through the blood stream. These responses can be emotional or regulatory. When you balance your chakras, you also regulate your hormones.
Regular practice of Sun Salutation benefits your body in many ways:
- It improves, circulation, flexibility and stamina.
- It increases blood flow to your heart.
- It stretches and tones your muscles keeping them supple and flexible.
- It detoxifies your body. Great in the morning after many hours of lack of movement during sleep (the lymphatic system eliminates toxins through movement).
- It stimulates and tones your Endocrine system (especially the Thyroid, the master gland that controls all the other glands).
- It tones up the internal abdominal organs by alternate stretching, compression cycles that results in better digestion and bowel movement.
- It discourages fat build up and helps with weightloss.
- It increases spine and waist flexibility.
The mental benefits of Sun Salutation are similar to meditation. You can look at Sun Salutation as meditation in movement.
- It reduces tension build up and promotes relaxation of the whole body.
- It increases your mental focus, concentration and deep breathing.
- It reduces depression, anxiety and stress by reducing the hormone Cortisol.
- It increases the quantity of "good mood" neurotransmitters like Serotonin.
- It increases mind to body coordination which is very good especially for older persons.
Sun Salutations are great as a warm up exercise as it tones up your abdominal muscles in preparation for other yoga postures. There are different types of variations to Sun Salutations. For the series below, a single round consists of two complete sequences: one for the right side of the body and the other for the left. Try to do at least 2 rounds to notice and feel a difference.
Stand with both feet together flat on the ground in a long, strong posture with relaxed shoulders and neck. Place your palms together against the chest, with the elbows slightly raised and spine tall but relaxed. This is prayer position, which is also known as namaste. Prayer position promotes balance between both sides of the body and develops a sense of respect and love for the mind and body. It stretches your shoulders and elbows and makes your wrists flexible. Stay in this pose for a few breaths.
Breath in and stretch our arms up to the ceiling with your palms together. Arch your back if you can without strain.
Breath out and bend forward, folding over your legs and taking your head forward. Place your hands on the floor by your feet.
Breath in and come to a flat back and look forward.
Breath out, forward bend.
Breath in and lunge your right leg back.
Breath out and step your left leg back so that your body is supported in one long line on your hands and toes. This is plank pose. Hold the position and inhale.
Breath out and lower your knees and chest to the floor. Breathe in, roll your toes over so that your feet are pointed and lift your body up, arching your back. This pose is called upward dog.
Breath out, roll your toes back and raise your hips to the ceiling into downward dog. Straighten your arms and hang your head down. Aim your heels toward the mat.
Breath in and step your right foot forward into a lunge.
Breath out, bring your left foot forward and step into a forward bend position.
Breath out, flat back.
Breath out, bend forward.
Breath in, return to standing position with your arms stretched above your head, palms together.
Breath out and return to starting point, reverse prayer.
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