It’s the middle of the day and you can already feel a slump in your energy levels. There’s still the rest of the workday to be dealt with and then there’s a dinner to attend with your spouse.
How do you keep energy circulating through your body in order to be productive and pack everything into your daily routine? Yoga is increasingly becoming the answer to all the travails of hectic urban life. Yoga affects us on many levels. The key is to start and then be consistent. The more consistent you are, the more you will find yoga changing and reviving your life.
To give your mind and body a quick boost and to keep you powered to manage your demanding workday, start the day with 10 Surya Namaskars.
The Surya Namaskar is a full body workout. It exercises the arms, legs and back while massaging the internal organs. Incorporating a steady continuous breath will help build up heat in the body and detoxify it.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
There are two types of Surya Namaskars, with minor differences. If you can manage Surya Namaskar A and B, five times each, every day, there are endless gains to be had. All you have to do is to start and be consistent.
SURYA NAMASKAR A
We start in the Samasthiti pose. Stand straight with your feet together; distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Tuck your tail bone in (pelvic tilt), which pulls your belly in too. Make sure your spine is upright and your neck sits directly over the spine. Keep your arms straight down by your sides. Establish a slow and steady rhythm for your breath.
1. Inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and bring them overhead, palms facing together.
2. As you exhale, fold forward into Uttanasana (standing forward bend). Make sure the fold comes from the hip and not the back. Bring the palms on the floor and try to touch your head to your knees. Engage the quadricep muscles of the thighs (contract the muscles). The more you use your quads, the more the hamstrings (the muscles on the back of the thighs) will open up. Bring your weight a little forward to the balls of your feet so that your hips stay over the ankles.
3. Inhale, and lengthen your spine forward (lift your back without taking your hands off the floor) into Ardha Uttanasana (half standing forward bend). In this pose, the gaze is lifted, the spine is extended and the fingertips are on the floor or on the shins.
4. When you exhale, step or lightly hop to push your feet back behind you into plank pose. Your palms should remain flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart, and your feet slightly apart. Take a deep breath as you lengthen through your spine, keeping the belly engaged (pull the belly in).
5. Exhale and lower into Chaturanga Dandasana (push-up position), keeping your legs straight. This is a challenging pose, so take your time. You can even put your knees on
to the floor and then lower your chest to the floor.
6. Inhale and move your chest forward into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog). Pull your shoulders back and open your collarbones; your elbows should be straight. Engage your legs but relax your gluteal (buttock) muscles.
7. Exhale, pushing back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog). Ground down (push down) through your hands and feet as you lengthen your spine, keeping the belly pulled in. This helps protect the lower back. Keep your legs straight, trying to push your heels into the ground. Remain like this for five breaths.
8. Inhale, step forward and get back into Ardha Uttanasana.
9. Exhale, and fold forward into Uttanasana again.
10. Then inhale and sweep your hands up as you return to Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana.
11. Exhale and return to Samasthiti.
SURYA NAMASKAR B
Begin in Samasthiti.
1. Inhale and bend the knees until the thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight. The knees and the thighs should be squeezing together. Keep the butt low. Sweep the arms up to the ceiling, palms facing each other, and touch them together. This pose is called Utkatasana and resembles a squat. The feet are flat. This is a variation from Surya Namaskar A.
2. While exhaling, fold forward into Uttanasana (standing forward bend) as you straighten the legs.
3. Inhale and move into Ardha Uttanasana (half standing forward bend).
4. Exhale and move into the plank pose.
5. Now move into Chaturanga Dandasana (push-up position). You can have your knees on the floor or above.
6. Inhale and flow into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog).
7. Exhale and push back into Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog).
8. This is a variation from Surya Namaskar A. Inhale and bring the right foot forward into a lunge position. Pivot on the ball of the left foot and drop the left heel on to the floor with the toes turned out, and away from your body. Bend the right knee, keeping it directly over the right ankle, so that the calf and thigh are at a right angle to one another. Make sure the hips are squared, facing forward. Bring the hands over the head, palms touching each other. The shoulder blades move down the back and there is a slight backbend in the back. The gaze is up at the thumbs. Take a breath here. This pose is Virabhadrasana 1 (warrior 1).
9. Then, inhale as you bring your hands down beside the right foot and move into the plank pose.
10. Exhale and go into Chaturanga Dandasana (the same as in step 5).
11. Inhale, move into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (the same as in step 6).
12. Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (the same as step 7).
13. Inhaling, come into Virabhadrasana 1 on the left foot, taking a full breath here.
14. Then, with the next inhalation, bring the hands down beside the left foot and move into the plank pose.
15. Exhale and go into Chaturanga Dandasana (the same as in steps 5 and 10).
16. Inhale into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward-facing dog).
17. Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog). Hold the pose for five full breaths.
18. Step forward, and as you inhale come back to back to Ardha
Uttanasana (half standing forward bend).
19. Exhale and fold forward into Uttanasana (standing forward bend).
20. Then, as you inhale, sweep your hands up coming into Utkatasana, the first pose.
21. Exhale and return to Samasthiti.
Maya Rao is a Mumbai-based authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher who conducts private classes.
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