NOTE: This is just a cool picture. Please don't try to do a Sun Salutation on a tree trunk.

This week’s 2012 Mental Health Month Challenge is especially for those readers who either a) don’t do much physical activity during the day or b) haven’t yet discovered the mental, physical, and spiritual benefits of yoga.

Your challenge this week is to begin each day with a Sun Salutation.

Rather than a single yoga pose, the Sun Salutation (also known as the Salute to the Sun or the Surya Namaskar) is a series of poses.

Don’t let that scare you, though: Even if you’ve never tried yoga or you aren’t yet in great physical shape, you can do a Sun Salutation.

Sun Salutation poses are fairly easy as far as physical demand is concerned, and remember: Yoga poses can be modified for physical fitness and experience levels.

(Check out the information and video on Sun Salutation variations.)

Not convinced this is the way to start your day? Think of it this way:

  • The Sun Salutation is a warm up series. Many yogis begin their yoga routines with Sun Salutations because the poses stretch and warm up their muscles. Also, they help with improve flexibility and build strength. Even if you don’t continue with a fuller yoga routine, beginning with a Sun Salutation can help wake up your body for the day.
  • A Sun Salutation can help wake up your mind, too. You’ll become focused and alert as you concentrate on your poses and breathing, and as is the case with yoga, that focus and alertness can carry on throughout the rest of your day. You can even learn to draw on it when things get stressful.
  • By beginning your day with a Sun Salutation (or two or three!), you’re giving yourself some YOU time that a busy schedule might not give you elsewhere.

The Internet is overflowing with information on how to do Sun Salutations, but here are a few sites I recommend (but am in no way affiliated with) to get you started:

  • The Yoga Site shows a Sun Salutation animation and provides an image and description of each pose in the series.
  •’s Yoga channel provides an Illustrated Step-by-Step Sun Salutation series that, as promised, gives you step-by-step instructions.
  • For those of you who want to read up on the series, Yoga Journal’s Here Comes the Sun gives more in-depth information, including the symbolism and history of Sun Salutations.

So, go ahead, give it a try! Come back Friday for the Weekly Weigh-In and let me know how it went!

Image Credit | CC