Sun salutations and male health
- By Team TDO
"With regular and mindful practice the entire logic behind the sequence becomes apparent, and soon the modest Suryanamaskar reveals its secrets to the ardent practitioner"
Suryanamaskar or Sun Salutations has been around in India for ages. Generations of Indians have stood up on terraces facing the rising sun and performing a sequence of body movements while uttering the Surya Mantra (Hymn) to propitiate Surya, the Sun God.
Today, the Suryanamaskar is no longer a purely Hindu ritual, but is recognized worldwide as a yogic exercise offering innumerable benefits to the practitioner.
At first glance, the modest Suryanamaskar might appear to be just a sequence of steps to be performed in rapid succession, but with regular and mindful practice the entire logic behind the sequence becomes apparent, and soon the modest Suryanamaskar reveals its secrets to the ardent practitioner.
Sun Salutations is a unique blend of both asanas (yogic postures) and pranayama (breathing) which not only brings all major muscle groups into play, but also cleanses and strengthens the core.
Suryanamaskar involves 12 steps. Most of the benefits will be common to males and females, but here we will see how exactly the male anatomy is benefitted.
Step 1: Pranamasana (prayer pose)
Stand straight with your chest out. Keep your feet together and knees pulled up. Hold thighs tight like in Tadasana. Now bring your hands together in front of your chest as if in a prayer position keeping elbows straight. This pose helps maintaining a good posture and increases confidence. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground gives stability to masculine energies.
Step 2: Hasta Uttanasana (raised arms pose)
Take deep breath and stretch your arms over your head. Keep your palms together. Now bend backward as much as you can, making an arch position. Then stretch your arms apart. This pose works brilliantly on back flexibility, and has a profound effect on the abdominal muscles. The back bend also cures chronic constipation and neck pain. The busy executive who has irregular eating hours can benefit greatly by this pose. It also helps reduce belly flab and keep the waist trim.
Step 3: Uttanasana (standing forward bend pose)
While exhaling, bend down, bringing your hands on either sides of your feet flat on the mat, head as close to your knees as possible. Do not bend your knees. This pose fills one with a sense of calm and repose. It is like a tranquilizer and even cures mild depression. In males, it can help calm the head as blood flows to the head in this pose. The breathing becomes deeper and it also makes the legs strong, especially the thighs and knees. Men who do a lot of field work (sales, marketing, etc.) can really benefit from this pose.
Step 4: Aekpaadprasarnaasana (equestrian pose)
Inhale and stretch the right foot to the back of the mat. Use your palms for support. Bend the left leg at the knee so that your left thigh is parallel to the ground and look up. Men who suffer from pre-mature ejaculation or prostate problems can seek relief from this pose.
Step 5: Dandasana (plank pose)
Hold your breath. Without moving any part of your body, extend your left leg back so that it is side by side with your right leg. Now keep your palms flat on the mat, with your spine straight and elbows locked. Do not let your head or hips drop. It should look like you are about to do a push up. With steady practice, this pose can build hand strength and can also help men who are a bit weak in the thighs.
Step 6: AshtangaNamaskara (Salute with 8 limbs pose)
Exhale. Bend your elbows and go down as low as you can at the shoulders while keeping the rest of your body perfectly stiff. Once near the floor, bend and drop your knees, chest and forehead to the ground lightly touching in that order. Your hips and pelvic should still be raised. Eight points should be touching the floor in this step - forehead, chest, both palms, both knees and both feet. This is probably the hardest of poses to maintain. It fully tones the abdomen and adds core strength to the viscera. This is beneficial to men with lower back problems and can even enhance sperm motility.
Step 7: Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
While inhaling, raise the upper part of your body from the waist up, and arch your back, looking towards the ceiling. Lower the hips down to the ground. The cobra pose tones the entire spine and removes defects like a curved spine and other postural defects.
Step 8: AdhoMukhaSvanasana (downward facing dog pose)
Exhale and without moving your hands and feet, tuck your toes and raise your hips and buttocks up. Elongate the spine and straighten the knees. Spreading the fingers evenly, push down from your forearms and try to put your heels down to the ground pushing back the thighs. Let your head hang and try lowering your shoulder blades to broaden the collarbone. This pose simulates the action of a dog lazily relaxing and stretching itself. Men suffering from thyroid, feet, stomach or back problems can benefit tremendously from this pose.
The last 3 steps are a repetition where the other limb is to be used i.e. if you have used the right leg forward in step 4 then in step 9 you use the left leg. Thus both sides of the body are exercised equally.
Step 9: Aekpaadprasarnaasana (equestrian pose)
Inhaling bring your right leg in between your hands repeating the position in (Step 4).
Step 10: Uttanasana (standing forward bend pose)
On exhale, bring the left foot forward next to the right and forward bend into Uttanasana (Step 3).
Step 11: Hasta Uttanasana (raised arms pose)
Straighten the back and raise your arms above your head, palms joined and repeat (Step 2).
Step 12: Pranamasana (prayer pose)
Lower your hands in down to your chest as in (Step 1).