When someone speaks about Yoga the first thing that comes to our mind is ‘Surya Namaskar’. Sun Salutation also known as Surya Namaskar is a revered practice in yoga that holds a deep significance in the philosophy and tradition of this ancient discipline.
In yoga philosophy, the sun symbolizes the ultimate source of energy and consciousness. Sun Salutations are a way of honoring and connecting with the sun, which is considered the life force that sustains all living beings on Earth. Through the practice of Sun Salutation during yoga teacher training in rishikesh, we seek to awaken and align this solar energy within us, stimulating our body, promoting balance, and well-being, and preparing our body for the Yoga practice.
The benefits of Sun Salutation extend beyond the physical realm. It is not only a great way to start our day but also offers a multitude of benefits for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
In this article, we will explore 11 amazing benefits of Sun Salutation and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to perform this energizing sequence.
Benefits of practicing Sun Salutation
Energizes the Body and Mind
Sun Salutations are a fantastic way to kickstart your day. The sequence involves a combination of forward and backward bending postures, stretching, and strengthening various muscle groups, which increases blood circulation and oxygen supply to the body. It also activates the solar plexus, located in the abdomen, which is associated with energy and vitality.
Regular practice awakens and invigorates the body, leaving you feeling energized and rejuvenated.
Regular practice of Sun Salutations enhances flexibility by stretching and toning the muscles, joints, and ligaments of the body. The postures included in the sequence are the stretches that target the entire body, from the hamstrings and calves to the shoulders and spine.
Strengthens the Body
It’s a complete workout for the entire body. The flowing sequence engages the major muscle groups, including the core, arms, legs, and back. As you move through the poses, you build strength and stamina, toning your muscles and increasing overall body strength.
Enhances Cardiovascular Health
The dynamic nature of Sun Salutations elevates the heart rate, providing an excellent cardiovascular workout. The sequence stimulates blood circulation, which helps in oxygenating the body and removing toxins. Regular practice can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Sun Salutations involve a combination of forward bends and twists, which massage the abdominal organs, promoting digestion and improving metabolism. The rhythmic compression and release of the abdominal organs, during the sequence can alleviate constipation and other digestive issues, leaving you with a healthier gut.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
The synchronized movements, deep breathing, and focus on the present moment help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and relieve stress. Regular practice of Sun Salutation can lead to improved mental clarity, enhanced concentration, and focus, allowing for better productivity and cognitive function.
Increases Mind-Body Awareness
Sun Salutations are not just a physical practice; they also cultivate mind-body awareness. The sequence encourages you to synchronize your breath with each movement, creating a meditative flow.
This heightened awareness of the body and breath fosters a deeper connection between the mind, body, and spirit.
Regular practice of Sun Salutations can help balance hormonal levels in the body. The sequence stimulates the endocrine system, which regulates hormone production and balance.
This can be particularly beneficial for women, as Sun Salutations can help alleviate menstrual irregularities and symptoms of menopause.
The sequence strengthens the core muscles, back, and shoulders, which are crucial for maintaining good posture. As you practice Sun Salutations, you develop better alignment and balance, leading to an improved posture both on and off the mat. Good posture not only enhances your physical appearance but also prevents musculoskeletal imbalances and related issues.
Cultivates Mindfulness and Inner Peace
The conscious coordination of movement and breath in the practice fosters mindfulness and brings a sense of harmony and unity within. The repetitive nature of the postures allows you to enter a state of flow, where the mind becomes absorbed in the experience of the practice.
Directing your focus inward and letting go of distractions, creates a meditative state that brings a profound sense of inner peace and tranquility.
The Sun, symbolizing the divine source of energy and consciousness, is honored and revered throughout the practice. By consciously linking each movement with the breath, Sun Salutations create a sacred space within which you can connect with your inner self and the greater universal energy.
The repetition of the sequence allows for a deepening of this spiritual connection, fostering a sense of oneness and unity.
How to perform Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Sun Salutations can be performed in a variety of settings and at different times of the day, offering flexibility and accessibility for practitioners. The practice can be done indoors or outdoors, depending on personal preference and the availability of suitable space. It is often practiced in the early morning, during the transition from night to day, as this time is believed to be energetically potent.
However, you can practice Sun Salutations at any time of the day that suits your schedule and preferences. Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how to perform Sun Salutations –
1. Begin by standing tall at the front of your mat, feet together, and palms together at your heart center in the prayer position (Samasthiti).
2. Inhale deeply, and extend your arms upward, arching back slightly, opening your chest towards the sky or ceiling (Hasta Uttanasana).
3. As you exhale, fold forward from the hips, keeping your spine straight. Bend your knees if needed and bring your hands to the mat beside your feet (Uttanasana).
4. On your next Inhale, step your right leg back into a lunge, keeping your fingertips on the mat. The left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle, with the left knee directly above the ankle (Ashwa Sanchalanasana).
5. As you exhale, step your left leg back to a plank position, aligning your body in a straight line from head to heels (Phalakasana).
6. Lower your knees, chest, and chin to the mat while keeping your hips lifted, or if you have the strength, lower your body to hover a few inches above the mat (Ashtanga Namaskara).
7. Inhale, slide forward, and lift your chest into Cobra pose, opening your chest to the front and keeping your hips on the mat (Bhujangasana).
8. Exhale and lift your hips, pressing your palms and toes on the ground, coming into a Downward-Facing Dog pose. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, open your chest, andkeep pressing your heels down towards the ground. Your body forms an inverted V shape (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
9. Inhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning your right knee directly above the ankle. The left leg remains extended behind you (Ashwa Sanchalanasana – Repeat on the opposite side).
10. As you exhale, step your left foot forward to meet your right foot, folding forward and bringing your nose closer to your knees (Uttanasana).
11. Inhale deeply, lift your torso up, extend your arms, and arch back slightly, coming into the same position as step 2 (Hasta Uttanasana).
12. Exhale and return to the starting position, bringing your palms together at your heart center (Samasthiti).
Congratulations! You have completed one round of Surya Namaskar. Repeat the sequence for additional rounds, starting with the opposite leg in step 4, alternating between the right and left sides.
Remember to synchronize your breath with each movement. Inhale as you extend or arch back, and exhale as you fold forward or step back. Maintain a steady and smooth flow throughout the practice.
As you become more comfortable, you can gradually increase the pace, moving dynamically and fluidly through each posture.