The life of a distributor is not easy: every day brings in a number of challenges that require the best of your efforts. In this humdrum of daily life, finding time for yourself becomes difficult, and taking care of your body and mind? Even more. To relieve stress, unwind and nurture your body, yoga is the way to go. It is well-established that yoga has numerous benefits. The word ‘yoga’ has its roots in the Sanskrit word ‘Yuji’ which means yoke or union. Yoga has been extensively practiced since ancient times and it brings the mind and body together. Often, yoga is perceived to be limited to poses or asanas but it is not so; yoga unifies the body, mind and breath to create an equilibrium. When harmony is achieved, the journey of life becomes stable, calmer and way more fulfilling. Yoga is combination of relaxation poses, movement poses and asanas or learning poses – all of them focus on the art of breathing. Whether you are looking to lose weight, have a strong and flexible body or reduce stress – yoga does it all.
Sun salutation/Surya Namaskar
Salute to the Sun or Sun Salutation, also known as Surya Namaskar, is a practice in yoga incorporating a sequence of some twelve gracefully linked asanas. It is traditionally performed in the morning to greet the day ahead. The sequence of postures or ‘asanas’ are usually performed in sets of five. Let’s take a look at the entire flow –
1. Tadasana Namaskar (Mountain pose with hands in prayer)
It starts with Tadasana Namaskar (Mountain pose with hands in prayer). Evenly distribute your weight on both feet. Try to establish a slow, steady rhythm with your breath as you slowly find your centre.
2. Mountain pose, arm overhead
With your palms joined together, take a deep breath, lift your arms and bend backward slightly. Ensure your biceps are close to your ears.
3. Hasta Padasana (Standing forward bend pose)
Exhale and bend forward from your waist region. Try touching the floor with your hands. Make sure your spine is straight. Exhale slowly throughout the pose.
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Low lunge pose)
Bend your knees slightly to let your palms rest on the floor right beside your feet. Inhale deeply, push your right knee towards the right side of your chest and stretch your left leg backward. Raise your head and look in front.
5. Chaturanga Dandasana (Plank pose)
Take a deep breath and push your right leg back as well. Both of your hands should be under your shoulders. Keep your body parallel to the ground.
6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Eight limbed pose)
After the Chaturanga Dandasana, exhale and slowly bring your knees downwards toward the floor. Rest your chin on the floor while your hips stay suspended in the air. When done correctly, your hands, knees, chin and chest should rest on the ground while your hips remain in the suspended position.
7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Rest your legs and midsection flat on the ground. Keep your palms beside your chest. Inhale and put pressure on the hands to raise your upper body.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog pose)
Keep your palms and feet where they are. Breathe out and gently raise your hips enabling the body to create an inverted V shape. Keep your elbows and knees straight. Look towards your navel.
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Low lunge pose)
After the last pose, bring your right foot forward. Keep you left leg stretched behind you and look forward.
10. Hasta Padasana (Standing forward bend)
Inhale and bring your left foot forward, next to your right foot. Keep the position of your hands intact, exhale and slowly bend your torso to transition into the Hasta Padasana pose.
11. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised arms pose)
Breathe in and lift your upper body. Join your palms and raise your arms above your head. Then bend backward repeating the motion of Step 2
12. Tadasana Namaskar (Mountain pose with hands in prayer)
In this last step, breathe out and stand upright in a relaxed manner. Lower your arms and hold them in front of your chest. This marks the end of the first set of Surya Namaskar.
Some of the most prominent benefits of yoga are as follows:
a. Flexibility improvement
One of the foremost changes that get noticed is improved flexibility. Initially it is difficult to even touch toes or do a backbend, but over time there is gradual loosening and seemingly impossible poses become doable. Inflexibility leads to poor posture, tight hamstrings which can cause back pain. With the advancement of flexibility, pains and aches also take a backseat. With age, flexibility is on the decline, especially if you are leading a sedentary lifestyle. Yoga helps you to break that cycle.
b. Strength building
Yoga pushes you to bear your weight in many new ways, from balancing on one leg (like the tree pose) or supporting your body with your arms (like the downward facing dog). These are challenging poses that, with time, helps you build your muscular strength. A big part of yoga involves the back muscles and your core and challenging these muscles daily make them stronger – from your forearms, shoulders to your glutes and calves, all are benefited from yoga sessions. Strong muscles enable us with better physical performance and the slew of our daily tasks seem more effortless.
c. Better breathing
Most people do not think about breathing; we fail we realize how important it is to breathe properly. The shallow breaths that we take on a daily basis is not how we should breathe. Pranayama propels us to focus on our breathing and teaches us to take deeper breaths that is good for the entire body. Even when you are off the mat, these breathing patterns can be followed.
d. Stress reduction
Any kind of physical activity is good for you, and that is all the more so in case of yoga. While doing yoga, most of our stress and troubles are dimmed as yoga is a concentration-heavy exercise. This time away from the stress, helps us focus on ourselves and have a more mature perspective on things. Yoga’s persistent emphasis on the ‘now’ brings us back from the humdrum of daily life and reflect and relax.
e. Joint health improvement
Yoga is gentle on your joints, no matter how intricate a pose is. It lets you use your joints without stressing or injuring them. Regular practice of yoga strengthens the muscles around the joints, decreasing their load. People suffering from arthritis experience a marked improvement in their pain and mobility with the aid of gentle yoga practice.
f. Stronger immune system
Yoga is very good for your immune system as well. As yoga involves stretching out and compression of your muscles, movement of organs, it helps to drain your lymphatic system. The lymph gets drained from the various lymph nodes of your body and this drainage brings in new fluid which is much better at toxic chemical and waste disposal and general fighting off infection.
Every individual is unique and possesses different abilities. You are free to modify yoga poses based on your capabilities. Getting a competent yoga instructor is a good way to start as it will be easier for him/her to understands your needs and abilities; he/she will be further be able to help you practice yoga safely and more effectively. It is alright if you are not good with every pose, you can easily skip a pose if it is comfortable or if you start to experience pain. You can stay within your personal limits and still use yoga productively. Please remember that yoga is a continuous process and the deeper you immerse yourself, the more profound its benefits become.