A Salute or Greeting to the sun
The following twelve stances, known as a greeting to the sun, have the aim of relaxing and invigorating the body and mind. This classic exercise coordinates breathing with variations of six yoga poses in a flowing rhythmic way that stretches and relaxes your body and your mind.
As suggested by its name, it was originally done when the sun rose and when it set. Although these stances are quite safe, they should not be done by pregnant women or those having a monthly period, except with expert tuition. If a person has hypertension (high blood pressure), a hernia, clots in the blood or pain in the lower back they are not recommended. Each exercise should follow on smoothly one after the other.
1 Start by facing east, standing up as straight as you can, without forcing it, with your feet together. Inhale and visualize the sun just beginning to rise. Exhale and bring the palms of the hands on to your chest as if you were praying.
2 Inhale again, stretching your arms overhead as you do so, pushing the pelvis forward a little, and lookup at your hands.
3 Breathe out, bending slowly from your waist until, ideally, your hands are touching the floor in front of or beside your feet (Don’t force this : if you can’t reach the floor, let your hands hold on to the lowest part of your legs they can reach).
4 Breathe in an lunge forward by bending your right knee to a right angle and stepping your left foot back. Turn your toes right under and straighten your body from head to heel.
5 Holding your breath, next move the left foot back, toes curled, until you are in the the classic push up position.
6 Now exhale and drop your knees to the floor, with your bottom up. Bend the elbows and bring your chest and chin to the floor. Continue breathing out and lower and whole body to the floor, straightening your legs and keeping your toes curled under.
7 Inhale, pushing down on your hands and slowly lifting your head as you straighten the elbows. Arch your back upwards like a snake before it strikes.
8 Breathe out and, with the buttocks as high as you can raise them and the head down, form a pyramid.
9 Breathe in and lunge forward bending your right knee and stepping your right foot forward between your hands.
10 When you breathe out, straighten your right leg and bring the left foot next to the right. Lift your buttocks high until you are touching your toes.
11 Inhale and slowly lift the spine, visualizing it unroll one vertebra at a rime. Raise your head and look up, bringing your arms straight overhead, and bring the image of the rising sun back to mind.
12 Breathe out and slowly bring your arms back to the sides, allowing the sun to glow brighter and brighter in your mind’s eye.
Salute the sun six times at first, gradually increasing the number of repetitions until you are comfortably doing the routine 24 times. This whole sequence of exercises can be performed several times over if wished. If this is the case, it is suggested to alternate the legs used either forwards or backwards in two of the exercises.
As previously mentioned, yoga has recently been used to treat some illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, and if a person ahs such a severe disorder, then a highly skilled and experienced therapist is essential. Since this form of yoga, known as therapeutic yoga, is so new there is only a limited number of suitably experienced therapists available, although this situation should be remedied by the introduction of further training.
For those who wish to use yoga to maintain mental and physical health, joining a class with an instructor is perhaps the best way to proceed, so that exercises are performed correctly and any lapses in concentration can be corrected. These classes last usually in the region of an hour and are separated into sessions for beginners and those who are more proficient. Proficiency and progress is achieved by frequent practice, which can be done at home between lessons. One simple exercise that helps reduce stress is quite simple to perform and does not take long. The person should lie on the floor with the arms at the side and the legs together.
After inhaling, all the muscles from the toes to the thighs should be tightened in turn. As the person exhales, the muscles in the stomach up to the shoulders should then be tightened, including the hands, which should be clenched. After inhaling again, the chest, throat and face muscles should be tightened, as well as screwing up the face and this should be maintained until the next breath has to be taken. All muscles should then be relaxed, the legs parted and the arms spread out comfortable with the palms facing the ceiling. The person should then totally relax with a sensation of falling through the ground.
The majority of doctors regard yoga as a type of exercise that is beneficial, although some do recommend patients to refer to yoga practitioners. However, if a specific disorder is to be treated, it is very important that the ailment should first be seen by a doctor.