At the age of eight, the pineal gland starts to calcify, and between the ages of twelve and fourteen years, puberty begins due to the development of the pituitary hormones. The physical changes, and the inability to fully cope with these changes, result in an “identity crisis” so prevalent among preteens. Well-balanced hormones are very essential for the physical and mental health of children. Emotional excesses due to hormonal changes makes children very moody, irritable, or even miserable.

As a parent, I often wonder how I can help my child live a happy, constructive, and successful life with an adequate amount of physical activity. Today, children have a demanding academic schedule, leaving little time for play, especially on weekdays. Also, a great deal of their spare time is spent in visual and mental stimulation from sources such as console games, and Internet and computer games. In this scenario, how can Surya Namaskar (Worship of the Sun) help children live a healthy life?

Surya Namaskar can be referred to as a compound yogic exercise set that is done in a specified sequence that can help all children integrate yoga into their lives, helping them reap benefits early on. Also, this set of yogic exercies helps redress the physical, emotional and mental issues affecting children in their adolescent years.

At the age of eight, the pineal gland starts to calcify, and between the ages of twelve and fourteen years, puberty begins due to the development of the pituitary hormones. The physical changes, and the inability to fully cope with these changes, result in an “identity crisis” so prevalent among preteens. Well-balanced hormones are very essential for the physical and mental health of children. Emotional excesses due to hormonal changes makes children very moody, irritable, or even miserable.

Surya Namaskar can help modify this hormonal imbalance. As all the major muscles and joints of the body come into play, it helps to modulate intercellular and metabolic energy and all the hormones are kept in balance. The bending and stretching of the spine tones the organs and internal tissue structures. The body becomes strong, supple, agile and healthy. Also, in Surya Namaskar,children learn to use breath with movement, which helps them stay calm and centered, a great strategy to relieve stress. Depending on one’s physical stamina, several cycles of Surya Namaskar can be repeated. It can be practiced anytime (never on a full stomach) and can be learnt in a few days. Along with the practice of Surya Namaskar, if the child gets regular physical exercise, good nutrition, sufficient sleep and rest, then the benefits will increase manifold.

Step One

Stand facing the direction of the sun with both feet touching. Bring the hands together, palm-to-palm, at the heart.

Step Two

Inhale and raise the arms upward. Slowly bend backward, stretching arms above the head.

Step Three

Exhale slowly bending forward, touching the earth with respect until the hands are in line with the feet, head touching knees.

Step Four

Inhale and move the right leg back away from the body in a wide backward step. Keep the hands and feet firmly on the ground, with the left foot between the hands. Raise the head.

Step Five

While exhaling, bring the left foot together with the right. Keep arms straight, raise the hips and align the head with the arms, forming an upward arch.

Step Six

Exhale and lower the body to the floor until the the feet, knees, hands, chest, and forehead are touching the ground.

Step Seven

Inhale and slowly raise the head and bend backward as much as possible, bending the spine to the maximum.

Step Eight

While exhaling, bring the left foot together with the right. Keep arms straight, raise the hips and align the head with the arms, forming an upward arch.

Step Nine

Inhale and move the right leg back away from the body in a wide backward step. Keep the hands and feet firmly on the ground, with the left foot between the hands. Raise the head.

Step Ten

Exhale slowly bending forward, touching the earth with respect until the hands are in line with the feet, head touching knees.

Step Eleven

Inhale and raise the arms upward. Slowly bend backward, stretching arms above the head.

Step Twelve

Stand facing the direction of the sun with both feet touching. Bring the hands together, palm-to-palm, at the heart.

 

Raja Rajeswari Sanjay, a homemaker with two children, has been practicing hatha yoga since she was a teenager. She learnt hatha yoga from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Center and Krishnamachariar’s Yoga Mandiram in Chennai, India.

List of references include: Swami Satyanada Saraswati, Surya Namaskara—A Technique of Solar Vitalization, Yoga Publications Trust, 2004; Education for Life, http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1997/3may97/edfrlife.shtml;http://www.santosha.com/asanas/suryanamaskar.html; Introduction to Surya Namaskar http://www.searchforlight.org

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