In yoga, it is often said that one’s youthfulness depends on the spine’s flexibility.
The Sun Salutations are essential to yoga practice, especially in flow (vinyasa) Yoga styles. This sequence involves coordinated movements with breathing, flowing from the front to the back of the yoga mat and incorporating vinyasa poses.
As you continuously reach upward and then fold forward over your legs to touch your toes, you might wonder, “What are the benefits of practicing the sun salutation?” Indeed, this practice has numerous advantages, which explains its lasting popularity in yoga.
Let’s explore the significance and the myriad benefits of Surya Namaskar for optimum physical fitness.
- What is the Significance of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)?
- What Are The Benefits Of Practicing The Sun Salutation (or Surya Namaskar)?
- Blood Circulation Enhancement
- Improves The Functioning Of The Digestive System
- Surya Namaskar Benefits In Weight Loss
- Helps Detox
- Healthy Lower Body
- Promote Glowing Skin
- Prevent Hair Loss
- Become More Intuitive
- Helps In Muscles And Joints Strength
- Calming Your Body
- Activates The Heart
- Solves Blood Pressure And Heart Problems
- 10 Common Mistakes Beginners Make When Practicing Surya Namaskar
- Insufficient Warming Up
- Incorrect Breathing Synchronization
- Neglecting Spinal Lift
- Poor Spinal Alignment
- Mixing Up Cobra And Equestrian Postures
- Hyperextending Knees Beyond Toes
- Prioritizing Quantity over Quality
- Leaving the Surya Namaskar Cycle Unfinished
- All 12 Sets in One Flow
- Maintaining Focus on the Postures
- Important Tips On What To Do & What To Avoid When Doing Sun Salutations
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How many Surya Namaskar per day is good?
- How many calories does 1 Surya Namaskar burn?
- How long should you do Sun Salutations?
- When is the Best Time to Do Surya Namaskar?
- How Can Sun Salutation Poses Help Increase Flexibility and Mobility?
- What Are The Benefits of Doing Sun Salutations For Kids?
- What Are The Health Benefits of Practicing Surya Namaskar For Women?
What is the Significance of Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)?
It is said that the King of Aundh was the first to introduce sun salutations. This sequence was believed to be maintained regularly and succeeded under his reign in the Maharashtra region of India. This ancient practice has since become a popular form of exercise, with many schools in India starting their day with Surya Namaskar.
The literal translation of the word “Surya Namaskar” is salutations to the Sun, while its deeper meaning is to bow with complete humility before the one who illuminates the world. This practice isn’t just physical but spiritual, helping connect with the Sun’s divine energy and be grateful for its life-giving power.
Since ancient times, we have been bowing and praying to the Sun because of its essential role in sustaining us. Surya Namaskar is a complete physical workout that is considered an ancient method of paying tribute to the source of life, the Sun, by practicing 12 different poses. The 12 postures of Surya Namaskar are designed to keep a sense of vitality, readiness, and receptiveness, helping to create a body and spirit that lead to more immense possibilities.
In terms of religion, the Sun is very significant. Science has proven and acknowledged the healing powers of the Sun and the medicinal advantages of Surya Namaskar. The Surya Namaskar collection of 12 postures strengthens the solar plexus (located behind the navel in the human body), which improves the practitioner’s creative, intuitive, and leadership capabilities.
A Step-By-Step Guide To The 12 Asanas of Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Ready to reap the benefits of Surya Namaskar? Here are the 12 Surya Namaskar asanas you need to know:
Prayer Pose (Pranamasana)
Balance your weight evenly on both feet and relax your shoulders. Inhale and lift your arms up, then exhale as you bring your hands together in a prayer position in front of your chest.
Raised Arms Pose (Hasta Uttanasana)
As you take a deep breath, lift your arms up and back, keeping your biceps close to your ears. This pose aims to extend your entire body from your toes to your fingertips. Tilt your pelvis forward and reach with your fingertips instead of backward for maximum benefits.
Hand To Foot Pose (Hasta Padasana)
Take a deep breath and slowly bend forward from your waist, keeping your spine straight. Lower your hands to the floor beside your feet as you breathe out.
Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
Breathe in deeply and extend your right leg back as far as possible. Then, lower your right knee to the floor while raising your head.
Stick or Staff Pose (Dandasana)
Stretch your left leg back and align your entire body while keeping your arms parallel to the floor as you inhale.
Saluting With Eight Parts (Ashtanga Namaskara)
Take a deep breath and slowly lower your knees to the floor. Gently lower your hips and let your chest and chin rest on the floor. Raise your backside just a little. Your eight body parts should be touching the floor – two hands, feet, knees, chest, and chin.
As you slide forward, lift your chest into the cobra position with your elbows bent and your shoulders away from your ears. Look up and gently push your chest forward while inhaling and your navel down while exhaling. Extend your body as much as possible without straining, and keep your toes tucked in.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
To do the ‘inverted V’ stretch, exhale and lift your hips and tailbone while keeping your chest down. Put slight effort into lifting your tailbone to deepen the stretch, and ensure your heels remain on the ground.
Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
Place your right foot between your two hands and your left knee on the floor as you inhale. Squeeze your hips to deepen the stretch, and look up. Make sure your right calf is perpendicular to the floor. Push your hips towards the floor to increase the stretch.
Hand To Foot Pose (Hasta Padasana)
Move your left foot forward as you exhale, and rest your palms flat on the floor. If needed, you can slightly bend your knees. Gently stretch your legs and try to reach your nose to your knees. Continue breathing normally.
Raised Arms Pose (Hasta Uttanasana)
Take a deep breath in and twist your spine up. Raise your arms and lean slightly backward, pushing your hips outward. Make sure your biceps are in line with your ears. Focus on stretching up instead of backward.
Standing Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
As you exhale, slowly straighten your torso and lower your arms. Take a moment to relax and notice how your body feels.
What Are The Benefits Of Practicing The Sun Salutation (or Surya Namaskar)?
Here are 12 excellent health benefits of this yoga practice, according to experts:
Blood Circulation Enhancement
The Surya Namaskar sequence helps keep your body clean and oxygenated. As you inhale and exhale during the practice, fresh, oxygen-rich blood is supplied to your body, helping flush out toxins and carbon dioxide.
Improves The Functioning Of The Digestive System
Surya Namaskar is an effective way to support your digestive system. It increases blood flow to the stomach-related tract, allowing your digestive organs to work more efficiently. Plus, the forward bend posture helps to expand your abdomen, which can help to release trapped gasses.
Surya Namaskar Benefits In Weight Loss
Regular practice of the Surya Namaskar sequence strengthens your muscles, tones your abs, and helps you lose weight around your stomach. This sequence of dynamic postures helps strengthen the body while giving you a healthier look.
Mastering all 12 poses may take 5-7 days. Move slowly and steadily through the steps. Start with a few repetitions of Surya Namaskar and gradually build up to 50-100 rounds six days a week to reach your weight loss goals.
Breathing is essential for our bodies to function. Not only does it oxygenate the blood, but it also helps rid the body of carbon dioxide and other toxins through exhalation. This ventilation process keeps our lungs healthy and allows the body to detoxify.
Healthy Lower Body
The Pranam asana (petition present) is the opening and closing posture of Surya Namaskar, and it’s excellent for strengthening your lower body. It will work your legs, ankles, and feet, but it also helps to strengthen your hips, relieve sciatica, and prevent flat feet. Moreover, Surya Namaskar is known to help connect the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Promote Glowing Skin
Surya Namaskar is an effective combination of yoga asanas that helps improve blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. This, in turn, can help you keep your skin looking youthful and radiant, even in old age. Additionally, it helps enhance blood circulation, restoring the natural glow of your skin and avoiding wrinkles.
Prevent Hair Loss
Surya Namaskar helps improve scalp blood flow, preventing hair loss. This increased blood flow nourishes the scalp and helps promote healthy hair growth.
Become More Intuitive
Regularly practicing Surya Namaskar and meditation can help the solar plexus become larger, like the size of a palm. This expansion of the solar plexus strengthens your intuition and concentration. On the flip side, if the solar plexus contracts, it can cause depression and other negative emotions.
Helps In Muscles And Joints Strength
Surya Namaskar is an excellent way to stretch and tone your muscles, joints, tendons, and skeleton. It can also help with your spine’s flexibility. As you practice the poses, your limbs become more symmetrical, which helps improve the functioning of your internal organs.
Calming Your Body
Practicing yoga postures can have a calming effect on the mind. Surya Namaskar postures like downward dog and cobra pose help reduce anxiety, stimulate the nerves, and boost the nervous system for greater positivity.
Activates The Heart
In the prayer position, your hands are clasped together in front of your heart. This gesture activates the heart chakra and helps the lotus heart open up as per yogic traditions.
If you want to try some heart-opening yoga poses, we recommend you to read this article and enhance your yoga practice.
Solves Blood Pressure And Heart Problems
Surya Namaskar is an effective, natural blood pressure treatment. Doing this practice helps strengthen the heart muscles and regulate irregular heartbeats. Plus, it keeps your blood sugar levels steady, reducing the risk of heart problems.
10 Common Mistakes Beginners Make When Practicing Surya Namaskar
Everyone has a unique way of life, which necessitates diverse yoga body techniques. When practicing Surya Namaskar, however, beginners usually make these basic errors.
1. Insufficient Warming Up
Surya Namaskar is a whole-body exercise that requires strength and flexibility. Newcomers usually lack both, and quickly leaping into Surya Namaskar poses can lead to more severe consequences, such as muscle cramps, damage, etc. Before beginning Surya Namaskar practice, include gentle stretches, and head, shoulders, wrists, knees, and hips rotations in your warm-up routine.
2. Incorrect Breathing Synchronization
Practicing Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation involves moving through 12 different positions. It’s important to breathe in a specific way as you move through these positions. Don’t overlook it while focusing on finishing the rounds; otherwise, you won’t get to reap the full benefits of the exercise. This is because the essence of Surya Namaskar, the King of Yoga Poses, lies in synchronizing breath with movement.
3. Neglecting Spinal Lift
In the Surya Namaskar practice, there are some transitional postures that beginners often neglect or ignore. A common mistake is skipping over the Ardha Uttanasana while lifting the torso from Uttanasana. This prevents the practitioner from fully stretching the spine, gaining all the benefits, and putting strain on the neck due to insufficient oxygen and a sudden transition.
4. Poor Spinal Alignment
When doing the Surya Namaskar sequence, it’s crucial to maintain your spinal integrity. But beginners often sink their lower spine to the floor, resulting in lower back pain.
5. Mixing Up Cobra And Equestrian Postures
It’s common for both experienced and inexperienced practitioners to mix up the cobra and upward dog postures, resulting in a hybrid posture that is not beneficial.
6. Hyperextending Knees Beyond Toes
Moving the foot forward between the hands can be tricky when transitioning from a downward-facing dog to a low lunge without hyperextending the knees. This puts pressure on the knees and causes pain.
7. Prioritizing Quantity over Quality
Don’t rush to increase the number of Surya Namaskar cycles in your practice. As a beginner, Start with two rounds of Surya Namaskar and perfect your technique for maximum benefits.
8. Leaving the Surya Namaskar Cycle Unfinished
Surya Namaskar is a spiritual exercise that starts and ends in prayer. Newbies, however, may underestimate its spiritual symbolism and think they can avoid postures such as the Raised arms pose. It’s important to complete the first cycle of Surya Namaskar before continuing the second; otherwise, an unfinished cycle is considered meaningless.
9. All 12 Sets in One Flow
Surya Namaskar is usually done in 12 sets, each taking nine rounds. Newbies may need help to go through all nine rounds in one go. But Surya Namaskar isn’t about trying to beat a record – it’s about discovering yourself and realizing your full potential, as with any other yoga practice.
10. Maintaining Focus on the Postures
Full mind-body awareness is essential for a successful Surya Namaskar practice. Newbies, however, may need help concentrating on the poses, breaths, and technique. To avoid this mistake, repeat the appropriate mantras for each pose and focus on your breath when transitioning between them.
Important Tips On What To Do & What To Avoid When Doing Sun Salutations
When doing sun salutations, keep these tips in mind:
Dos of Surya Namaskar
- Start with a few rounds of warm-up exercises to prepare your body for the asanas.
- Maintain correct body postures
- Have proper and rhythmic breathing
- Follow the steps in order
- Increase repetitions gradually
- Follow a healthy diet (opt for vegetarian)
- Train yourself daily
- Maintain awareness when doing each pose
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Stay hydrated
- Start slowly
- End the practice with a few minutes of relaxation and meditation.
Don’ts of Surya Namaskar
- Don’t begin in random order
- Don’t rush through the asanas.
- Don’t strain your body or push yourself beyond your limits.
- Don’t hold your breath while performing the asanas.
- Don’t practice Surya Namaskar if you have any medical condition or injury.
- Remember to cool down after practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many Surya Namaskar per day is good?
Do Surya Namaskar daily, with 4-5 sets. Increase the number of sets gradually. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop and consult with a doctor before resuming. After each set, take a moment to relax and breathe.
How many calories does 1 Surya Namaskar burn?
Doing a single round of Surya Namaskar can burn up to 13.90 calories. Start with five sets and gradually increase it to 108 over time.
How long should you do Sun Salutations?
A Sun Salutation typically takes around four minutes. Depending on your practice, you may hold each pose for just one or two breaths or extend it to 10-15 breaths.
When is the Best Time to Do Surya Namaskar?
For the best results, Surya Namaskar is recommended to be practiced in the early morning before sunrise and facing the East. This is because the air is energized, and the morning UV rays benefit your bones and skin, providing you with Vitamin D from the Sun. However, if you cannot do it in the morning, practicing it at any time while facing East with proper breathing is still possible.
If you choose to do it after sunset or after 6 pm, ensure you have not eaten anything for at least five hours. It is essential to listen to your body and choose the best time for you.
How Can Sun Salutation Poses Help Increase Flexibility and Mobility?
Flexibility and mobility are both important for a healthy body. Sun salutation poses can help you achieve both.
Stiff joints can make even simple tasks like bending over to pick up an object feel exhausting. But sun salutation poses can help unlock and extend your joints’ range of movement, making activities easier and lighter.
What Are The Benefits of Doing Sun Salutations For Kids?
In today’s competitive world, kids are exposed to tension and worry from an early age.
- Surya Namaskar is the ideal choice to help them relax their minds, enhance concentration and increase stamina.
- It lessens the feeling of tension and restlessness, particularly during exams. Furthermore, it provides strength and energy to the body.
- Additionally, it assists in muscle growth and enhances the body’s flexibility.
What Are The Health Benefits of Practicing Surya Namaskar For Women?
Surya Namaskar is a great blessing for any health-conscious individual.
- A few of the Sun Salutation poses can help burn off extra fat around the stomach and get you in shape without any extra effort.
- These poses stimulate dormant glands, like the thyroid, and increase their hormone production.
- Regular Surya Namaskar practice can help women regulate their menstrual cycles and ease childbirth.
- In addition, it can give your face a nice glow and prevent wrinkles.
Ready to enjoy the benefits of Surya Namaskar and reach your weight loss goals? Simply follow the steps and let your body move gracefully from one pose to the next. Relax, breathe deeply, and let your lungs fill up as you take part in the yoga dance to a healthier life.
Sun Salutation is a powerful, effective pose that can boost your flexibility, strength, and mental health. To see the best results, practice the Sun Salutation in a comfortable, quiet place with proper alignment. With regular practice, the Sun Salutation can work wonders for your body and mind, creating a healthier and more joyful life!
Happy Sun Saluting!