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There are very few exercises which bring the body, mind, and soul together in a happy conjunction. The Sun salutation is one such exercise, which does so with élan. It is also a way to express your gratitude to the Sun God.
Are you a morning person? If you aren’t, then this is the right time to begin, because this set of 12 asanas does incredible things to your mind and body. It is the best way to relax and rejuvenate your body and also help you tide over a hectic day with ease.
Take a leaf from the books of ancient rishis, who believed that the sun is the life force that provides a great source of energy to our bodies. So, it goes without saying that they made the sun salutation an intrinsic part of their daily regime.
The Incredible Benefits of The Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation
The solar plexus, the central point of the human body, also known as central plexus, is located behind the navel and has a direct link to the sun. When you practice the sun salutation, you activate your creativity and intuitive abilities. Besides these two, there are other more important sun salutation benefits.
All the 12 poses of Surya Namaskara target each part of the body. So, it is a complete body workout that you can complete within a short span of time, once you get the hang of it. So here is why you need to salute the sun and make it part of your morning routine.
- It aids weight loss- When it comes to a good cardiovascular workout, somehow yoga is not known to shed an insane number of calories like say a run on the treadmill or a jog in the park. But Surya Namaskara begs to differ. When done at a quick pace; it can boost your metabolism, shed unwanted pounds and work on your abdominal muscles. How is that for a fair deal?
- It helps you ditch your illuminators- Yes, sun salutations can give you that unmistakable glow that even your best makeup perhaps can’t. You don’t believe us, do you? Well, all you really have to do this try a few fast sun salutations on your yoga mat in the wee hours of the morning. A few days into this routine will make a difference to your skin.
- Bye-bye, joint pain- Joint pain is an inevitability. As we grow older, we all end up with joint –pain, right? Wrong! Not when you exercise well and eat well; and by exercising we mean adding Surya Namaskars to your daily routine. This exercise adds strength to your joints and ligaments, as well as your skeletal system. Performing the postures lithely, tones your body and also massages your vital organs.
- Aids in detoxification of the body- The quick inhalation and exhalation in a Surya namaskar helps in detoxification. The cells and blood get oxygenated and get rid of the toxic gasses accumulated in the body.
- Keeps anxiety and tension away- Have an important meeting coming up today? Try fitting in a few rounds of Surya namaskar. You will not only feel calmer but also will be able to handle things better. Not only that, it also helps your endocrine glands function better, especially the thyroid gland.
- Your blood sugar levels remain in control- It not only keeps you energized, but also keeps your blood sugar levels in control and your heart health in great condition.
- Keeps your menstrual problems in check- If you are bogged down by irregular period problems, practicing Surya namaskars can provide you with ample relief. This yogic practice also helps in easy childbirth.
- Prevents hair fall- The downward dog position is one of the inverted poses among the 12 poses of the Surya Namaskara. This posture channelises the blood flow to your scalp, and is extremely beneficial for your hair.
- It helps the proper functioning of the kidneys- The poses and postures of the sun salutation helps in the circulation of the blood throughout the body. It also helps in the proper filtration of wastes from the body.
- It helps tone the nerves and nervous system- The series of exercises helps massage and stimulate the nerves, which help the functioning of all the vital organs of the body.
Benefits of Sun Salutations
There are many benefits to this ancient practice of sun salutations. Not only does it help shed the excess kilos, but it also helps maintain the mental equilibrium. The sun salutation yoga sequence contains 12 poses which you need to do one after another.
Prayer Pose or Step 1
Start by standing at the edge of your mat, keep your feet positioned together and balance your weight equally on both the feet. Expand your chest and try and relax your shoulders. As you breathe in, raise your both arms up from the sides and as you breathe out, bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.
This pose induces a sense of calmness and relaxation. This is one pose which helps pay obeisance to the Sun God.
The Raised Arms pose or Step 2
Take a deep breath in and lift your arms up and back, keep the biceps as close to the ears as possible. In this pose, the chief aim is to give the whole body a nice stretch and feel the stretch from the heels to the tips of the fingers. To reap the maximum benefits, pull the pelvis forward and try and reach up with your fingers rather than try and go backward.
It helps stretch the whole body and also maintains the integrity of the spine.
Hand to Foot Pose or Step 3
Breathe out and try to bend forward from the waist, keep the spine erect as you do so. As you breathe out completely, bring your hands down to the floor right beside the feet.
This asana helps reduce the fat around your abdominal region; it also helps reduce the digestion issues like constipation and bloating. This posture particularly helps tone the spinal nerves and also helps evoke the feeling of humility in the practitioner.
Equestrian Pose or Step 4
As you breathe in, push back your right leg back, as much as possible. Bring the right knee to the floor and raise your head. This asana helps strengthen your back, thigh and abdomen muscles. So it is one way of eliminating back pain and also helps in the proper functioning of the thyroid levels.
Stick Pose or Step 5
As you take a deep breath in, bring the left leg back and form the proper alignment of the body in a straight line and keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.
It helps strengthen the spine and also tones your arms and legs. Since this pose brings additional blood flow to the upper portion of the body, it improves brain function and reduces anxiety and depression to a great extent.
Saluting with Eight Points or Step 6
Bring your knees down to the floor with a gentle exhalation. Bring back the hips slightly, then move forward and bring your chest to the floor and rest it on the floor. Bring your posterior up a little bit. Keep your two hands along with your two feet, two knees, chest and chin, that is eight parts of the body, touching the floor.
Cobra Pose or Step 7
Bring your body forward and lift the chest up, mimicking the cobra. Try to keep your elbows bent in this pose and keep the shoulders away from the ears. Try and raise up your head. As you breathe out, try to push the chest forward. As you breathe out, make an effort to push down the navel. Tuck the toes right under. Do not force yourself to stretch too much. Be gentle and not forceful.
This asana helps invigorate the heart and gives a fair bit of stretch to your shoulders, chest and also your abdominals. It helps to bring about a certain amount of flexibility to your body.
Mountain Pose or Step 8
Repeat the steps as you go, breathe out evenly and lift your hips, and bring the tailbone up and chest downwards to an ‘inverted V’ posture. If possible, try to keep your heels on the ground and make a gentle effort to bring the tailbone up, deepening into a nice stretch.
Equestrian Pose or Step 9
Breathing in, bring the right foot forward in between the two hands. With the left knee down to the floor, press the hips down and look up, and place the right foot exactly between the two hands and the right calf, perpendicular to the floor.
In this position, make a gentle effort to push the hips down towards the floor, to deepen the stretch.
Hand to Foot Pose or Step 10
Breathe out and bring the left foot forward. Plant the palms on the floor. Try to bend the knees if necessary. Try to straighten the knees, and if you can, try to touch your nose to the knees. Keep breathing evenly.
Raised Arms Pose or Step 11
With a deep breath in, roll the spine up, bring your hands up and bend backward just a little bit. Push the hips slightly outward. Keep your biceps close to your ears. The objective is to stretch up more, rather than stretching backward.
As you breathe out and straighten the body, bring the arms down. Try to relax in this position; observe the sensations in your body.
What Happened When I tried Practicing Surya Namaskara for a Month?
I never took a fancy to yoga, but became a convert when I saw a lovely woman practicing Surya Namaskara in a park. She was around fifty and was ever so flexible and nimble on the feet. I must say, she looked a good ten years younger than her actual years. I was transformed and wanted to give Surya Namaskara a try. Here is what I found after practicing it for a month.
- My routine changed for the better- I became a morning person and enjoyed those moments of quietude when it was just me, my yoga mat and the early morning rays.
- I looked toned- I looked lean and all toned, don’t know whether I lost a great deal of weight, as I did not check, but my clothes fit me better and I was so happy!
- My flexibility increased- I found I was more flexible; Surya Namaskars helped me to explore more interesting poses, which really left me marveling at how my body capable of doing so many things. Clearly, the benefits of sun salutations were working!
- I ate healthy- I generally started eating healthy and felt healthier than ever. This was definitely a far-reaching benefit of sun salutation.
- Change of attitude- I don’t know why, but I became more disciplined, sleeping at the right time, getting at least eight hours of sleep and getting up at the right time in the morning!
- My skin looked better- Yes it did! My skin glowed, and how! This also meant that I could ditch some of the chemical based creams which I relied heavily upon previously!
Clearly, the Surya Namaskar has won me over. I have almost made a pact with myself that I will continue with my exercise regime for years to come, increasing the number of cycles of Surya Namaskar as I go! My count is 50 now, and I aim to reach the golden mark of 100 Surya Namaskars soon. Till then it is a continuous episode of self- discovery and new revelations!
Feeling that the above sun salutation steps are hard to perform? Then try this simple Hatha Yoga Surya Namaskara Sequences shown in the below video by our Yoga expert trainer Divya. Tell me, have you tried the sun salutation? And, if you have, tell me about the changes you’ve noticed. Let me know in the comments section below! Till then, stay healthy, stay happy!