Ah! Finally we come full circle and to the twelfth pose in Surya Namaskar. The series started in November (18th November, to be precise), comes to an end with this weeks’ post.
The 12th asana or pose is the pranamasana, which is basically tadasana with the hands folded in a “namaste.”
• Posture: From the 11th pose or the backward bend, bring the two arms down with elbows bent and the hands joined together in “Namaste,” and thumbs close to your heart. Simultaneously, bring the spine to neutral from a backward bend/ extended position and roll the pelvis to neutral as the hip joints revert to neutral. The spine should be elongated as in imagining a string pulling upwards from crown of head. The lower extremities are relaxed with neutral position of knee and ankle joints as the weight is effortlessly transferred. The shoulder blades or scapulae are pulled back. Simply put, stand tall with open chest and folded hands. To add challenge, you may bring both the feet together with the big toes and heels touching each other. This really activates the trunk and leg muscles to maintain balance.
• Muscles: The shoulder extensors, adductors, internal rotators, the elbow flexors, and wrist extensors are the prime movers, bringing the arms into Namaste position. The rhomboids, levator scapulae, and the pectoralis minor rotate the scapula down to neutral from upward rotated position. The rectus abdominus and the gluteus maximus contract to bring the spine and pelvis to neutral. The stabilizer muscles (transversus abdominus, obliques, multifidi, and the piston action of diaphragm with pelvic floor muscles while breathing) of the trunk are activated to maintain neutral, elongated spine.
• Breathing: Slowly exhale as you come into neutral from the backward bend position, coming to maximal exhalation at end posture. Stay in this pose with eyes closed, breathe in and out several times, holding the breath after a complete inhale and a complete exhale.
“Om Bhaskaraya Namaha”
“I bow to Him who is the cause of luster.”
When I began the post series on Surya Namaskar, I wrote: “ Not only is it important to do the 12 postures with accuracy, but also the performance must exude tremendous grace throughout, including a smooth transition from one posture to next.” With this post, I conclude the Surya Namaskar series. Though I have done my best to put in words and simple sketches what is a very sacred exercise and way of being, words are not enough to express it in entirety. At some point, I would like to do a live session in the community and call on you all to participate in any way you are willing. Please look out for the dates and venue.
Ami Gandhi is a licensed physical therapist in the state of California. She is the owner of StableMovement Physical Therapy, a small boutique practice in San Jose that offers patient centered, one-on-one, hands-on physical therapy.