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If you’re looking to build stamina but find the treadmill or the cross trainer monotonous, give the humble Surya Namaskar a try
Surya Namaskar is a mark of respect to the sun as our existence depends upon its light. The Namaskar comprises a series of 12 graceful poses or asanas.
And the best way to perform it is facing eastwards, at dawn, while the sun is still rising. Of course, you can even do the Surya Namaskar at any other time during the day, but just make sure you have an empty or light stomach. The best part is that since it does not require any equipment you can do it anywhere.
Ideally, each of these asanas is done while chanting an accompanying mantra. You may chant each mantra just before the respective pose or chant the entire Surya Mantra at one go, and then perform the asanas.
Surya Namaskar is a form of exercise by itself and helps build stamina and strength, provided it is done regularly and in the correct way.
Stand with your feet together and hands joined in front of the chest in the traditional namaskar position.
Inhale and stretch your hands up straight, above your head. Stretch your neck and look upwards. Bend slightly backwards to make an arch of the upper body.
Exhale and bend from the waist to touch your fingers to the floor. After regular practice, you will be able to touch your forehead to the knees and rest the palms flat on the ground.
Now resting both hands firmly on the ground, inhale and take the right leg behind and stretch it out on the floor, lunge down. Bend the left knee and keep the foot in line with your hands. Stretch your neck up and gaze skywards. [In the next round, start with stretching your left leg behind first].
While exhaling, straighten the left leg out such that both feet are together and your back is straight, not curved. Make sure that your gaze is on the floor and your elbows are not bent.
Slowly bring your knees to rest on the floor, then your chest, followed by the forehead. Do not rest the hips on the floor. This might be difficult initially but with practice, you will master the art.
In a smooth movement, raise your head and upper body, resting your palms on the ground. Your gaze should be straight ahead. Be cautious not to hold your breath while in this pose.
From here, get into an inverted V-position keeping your knees and elbows straight; rest the soles and palms flat in the ground and allow the head to hang down freely.
Fold the right leg from the knee and bring it close to the chest, resting it near the hands. When doing this, the left leg should be stretched out behind you.
Bring the left leg in front, rest it next to the right foot and rest your hands on the ground.
Inhale deeply and get back to the standing position. Standing with your feet together, stretch out your hands above the head, keeping the elbows straight. Bend your spine backwards.
Join the palms of both hands together in front of the chest in the namaskar position. Spend a few moments absorbing the energy of the sun and prepare your mind for the next round. Relax and stretch your hands out by your side. This completes one round of Surya Namaskar.
There are many variations of the Surya Namaskar. The one mentioned above is the traditional method and suits people of all ages and fitness levels.
Note: It should not be practised by pregnant women after the first three months.
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