We have described twelve positions. This constitutes a half round of surya namaskara. One full round consists of twenty-four positions. To complete the second half of surya namaskara the same twelve positions are repeated but with two minor modifications. These are as follows:
In position 16 the left leg is extended backwards followed by the right leg in position 17. This is instead of stretching the right leg backwards as in position 4, followed by the left leg in position 5.
In position 21 the right leg is brought forward followed by the left leg in position 22. This is instead of bringing the left leg forwards in position 9 followed by the right leg in position 10. The breathing sequence and the mantras remain unchanged. This alternation of the twelve basic positions to form twenty-four is necessary to ensure that both halves of the body are exercised equally – surya namaskara is a perfectly symmetrical exercise.
Make sure that you breathe through the nose and not the mouth. If necessary, do jala neti before commencing surya namaskara or your daily practice program.
The breathing sequence in surya namaskara is perfectly natural and should occur spontaneously. The breathing that we have already related to each position is that which the body will automatically do, and any attempt to breathe differently will prove uncomfortable and awkward. There is an easy principle to remember when you are learning surya namaskara. When you bend backwards, inhale, for the chest expands, inducing air into the lungs. And when you bend forwards, then you must exhale, because the abdomen is being compressed, which in turn reduces the volume of the lungs, via the diaphragm, and air is forced out of the lungs. Only while assuming position six, is the breath retained, and if you experiment for yourself you will find that this is also perfectly natural, for it is difficult to lower the body and breathe at the same time.
In summary, there is little or no effort required on your part to ensure correct breathing: your body will tell you. But what you must do is accentuate the inhalation and exhalation more than the body will do naturally. Some effort will be required in this direction.
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