The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara) is a classic yoga sequence that brings your body, breath and mind together.
It’s the season to celebrate family, friends, relationships and traditions. What a wonderful time of year to connect. But with all the excitement it’s easy to get stressed out and exhausted. How can you keep your stress down and energy up? Taking care of yourself is key.
The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara) is a classic yoga sequence that brings your body, breath and mind together. It is a set of 12 asanas or yoga postures. Surya Namaskara has been practiced by millions of people in India for thousands of years.
The process purifies the blood and improves blood circulation throughout the system. It ensures proper functioning of the stomach, bowel, and nerve centers.
From head to toe, every part of the body is greatly benefitted by Surya Namaskar, which is why it is highly recommended by all yoga experts.
Why It Works So Well
The sun salutation activates the body’s breathing and digestive fulcrum, the junction point in the body where the rib cage meets the abdomen. It is where the diaphragm splits the body in half. Below the diaphragm is the liver and stomach, which are critical for digestion, and above the diaphragm are the lungs and heart, which are vital organs. If this area becomes rigid, the function of the organs above and below the diaphragm can become compromised. It is important as we age and the spine gets stiffer to keep that elasticity.
The sun salutation keeps the diaphragm free which is critical for optimal health.
How Do I Do It?
The sun salutation is a series of bending and extending postures that are coordinated with each nasal inhale and exhale.
It is important to breathe through your nose to drive the air deep into the lower lobes of the lungs. This is where the calming and repair nerve receptors are located. Nasal breathing while doing the sun salutation reduces stress.
Here are 3 versions. Even if you have limited mobility there is a version for you. Be gentle and choose the one that is best for you. If you are suffering from persistent back pain, any other pain in the body or some chronic physical problem, it is advisable to consult a doctor before beginning the practice
2. Modified Sun Salutation Video easy version
How Many Should I Do?
It is a good idea to do 4-12 rounds of Surya Namaskars daily (one round consists of two sets – one with the right leg, one with the left). However, as a beginner, you could start with two rounds and then gradually go up to as many as you can comfortably do. It is best to do a complete round. This will ensure that both sides of the body are equally used.
Best Time To Do Sun Salutations
Doing the 12 asana’s in the morning leaves you feeling energetic throughout the day. When performed in the evening the postures can help you unwind. Whatever time you do Sun Salutations is the best time.
Fast or Slow?
If done fast, it provides a good cardiovascular workout. If done at a slower pace, these postures help tone the muscles and can relax the system.
Use the breath to harmonize the body and mind. Coordinating your breath with the postures gives you a complete meditative experience whether you do it fast or slow.
Health Benefits of Sun Salutation
Good for Your Brain
The physical act of the asanas moves the cerebral spinal fluid through your brain to allow the brain to wash itself, it’s very powerful. Deep breathing while doing the sun salutation increases cerebral spinal fluid allowing the brain to wash better.
Gives You Glowing Skin
Surya Namaskar improves your blood and lymph circulation that affects the brightness of your complexion. It aids in bringing back the glow on your face; preventing the onset of wrinkles, making your skin look ageless and radiant.
The asanas increase the blood flow to your digestive tract resulting in better functioning of the intestines. Each extension posture, (as seen in the video and diagram) provides a deep stretch. The abdomen, stomach and liver are pulled down, creating more space under the diaphragm for optimal digestion and freedom for deep breathing. The forward bending poses l help increase your abdomen space which aids in releasing the trapped gases from your system.
Practicing the asanas along with the deep breathing will calm your mind, giving you a good night’s sleep.
By actively inhaling and exhaling while doing the asanas the lungs are thoroughly ventilated and the blood gets oxygenated. The breathing and postures pump the lymph fluid through your system aiding detoxification.
Greater Mental Stability and Intuition
With a regular practice of Surya Namaskar and meditation, the solar plexus increases from the size of an almond to the size of your palm. This expansion of the solar plexus, also known as the second brain, develops our intuitive ability and makes us more clear and focused. The contraction of the solar plexus, on the other hand, leads to depression and other negative tendencies.
“All our emotions get stored in the solar plexus, and it is also the point from where one’s gut feelings arise. The size of the solar plexus is said to like the size of a small gooseberry. However, for those who do yoga and meditation, it becomes much bigger – almost three to four times bigger than the normal size. The more expanded your solar plexus, the greater is your mental stability and your intuition.”- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
To achieve best results, practice Sun Salutation regularly. It only takes 5 minutes to do 4 rounds. It is better to do 2-4 rounds daily than to do 12 rounds once a week.