The Health Benefits of Surya Namaskar
Salutations to the Sun God Surya
If you're looking for a simple, enjoyable way to start your day that provides a diverse range of health benefits, consider practicing Surya Namaskar. Surya Namaskar is a special sequence of yoga postures and chants that together comprise the traditional Sun Salutation.
Surya Namaskar has its origins in Hindu worship of the solar deity, and it has been practiced in India for thousands of years. There are twelve poses in the Surya Namaskar series, and a full round consists of performing two sets of this series. During the second set, practitioners move the opposite leg from the one involved in movement during the first set.
Whether you regularly practice yoga or not, you can enjoy the health benefits. Performed correctly, it is a completely safe set of yoga poses that will not cause strain or injury. You will experience health benefits by practicing the Sun Salutation just once daily, but you can also practice the series of poses as often as you like morning, noon or night.
Once you become familiar with Surya Namaskar and how wonderful it makes you feel, you will probably find yourself drawn to performing it multiple times throughout the day, including just before bedtime. When practiced in the morning, it relieves stiffness, energizes the body and refreshes the mind. During the day, it is a rejuvenating alternative to caffeine, and at night, it can help you relax and get a good night's sleep.
Surya Namaskar provides all of the key health benefits of yoga in a very succinct package. It is a holistic exercise that provides physical health benefits, but also mental or emotional as well as spiritual benefits. The obvious advantage is the workout it provides for the muscles, but it also benefits joints, ligaments and the skeletal system by improving posture, flexibility and balance.
In addition to these physical benefits, this practice stimulates and conditions virtually every system in the body. It is good for the heart and stimulates the cardiovascular system. It oxygenates the blood and helps strengthen the heart. Surya Namaskar is good for the digestive system and the nervous system. It stimulates the lymphatic system and supports respiratory system health, as well.
Practicing Surya Namaskar also benefits the endocrine system and enables the various endocrine glands to function properly. These include the thyroid, parathyroid and pituitary glands as well as the adrenal gland, testes and ovaries.
Like most forms of exercise, Surya Namaskar provides mental benefits to regular practitioners. You will feel wonderful after performing the Sun Salutation. It is relaxing and rejuvenating, and tension, stress and anxiety melt away.
Surya Namaskar is an excellent alternative to caffeine and other stimulants. If you suffer from insomnia or sleep disturbances, you will find it aids in helping you fall asleep without the need for depressants.
With regular practice, it is an excellent way to manage stress and alleviate depression. You will expend a tremendous amount of energy as you move through the two sets of poses. Surya Namaskar teaches you to concentrate, and learning to achieve the poses is incredibly gratifying.
Poses & Positions : A Complete Demonstration
12 Positions of Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations
Specific Health Benefits
In addition to the general health benefits, each of the yoga poses in the series provides specific health benefits:
- Pose 1 (and 12): Promotes balance, stimulates the respiratory system, exercises shoulder, back and neck muscles
- Pose 2 (and 11): Promotes balance, promotes digestion, exercises arms and shoulder muscles, tones the spine, promotes flexibility in back and hips
- Pose 3 (and 10): Promotes blood circulation, tones abdominal tracts, stretches back and leg muscles, stimulates spinal nerves, stimulates lymphatic system
- Pose 4 (and 9): Exercises spine, strengthens hand and wrist muscles
- Pose 5 (and 8): Stimulates blood circulation, strengthens the heart, strengthens wrist and arm muscles, relieves neck and shoulder tension
- Pose 6: Strengthens leg and arm muscles, increases flexibility in neck and shoulders, stretches arms, shoulder, neck and back muscles, exercises back muscles, releases tension in neck and shoulder
- Pose 7: Stimulates circulation to abdominal organs, tones digestive tract, stretches upper and lower body, promotes flexibility in the back, stimulates nerves in spine
Poses 8 through 12 are essentially repetitions of poses 5 through 1, respectively. The health benefits of each are similar to their corresponding poses.
Surya Namaskar is an exercise in itself, but it is also sometimes used as a warm up for other, more strenuous workouts. You can also perform Surya Namaskar at the end of other exercise routines as a way to relax and wind down. One of the best things is how flexible and versatile a form of exercise it is for individuals at all fitness levels.
Surya Namaskar will provide health benefits for individuals regardless of their level of interest in its spiritual benefits or their religious beliefs. Whether you consider it of spiritual benefit or not, learning the poses and practicing them regularly is incredibly gratifying and humbling.
Over time, Surya Namaskar will help you achieve a sense of well-being and purpose. It is a spiritually uplifting exercise and promotes a keen awareness of the interconnectedness of your body, mind and breath.