How Suryanamaskar keeps you young and healthy.
Updated: May 1
What is Suryanamaskar?
Yogasana is designed to keep two things in consideration one is to keep the abdomen flat ( there should not be fat around the stomach ) and the other is to retain the flexibility of the spine.
Its been said by joseph pilates that "you are only as young as your spine is flexible".
Suryanamaskar is a sequence of twelve different postures that involves forward bends and backbend is done synchronizing the breath. The Practice of Suryanamaskar is a perfect routine to bring flexibility to the spine and also to reduce fat around the abdomen.
Surya in Sanskrit is sun and namaskar is praying by joining both hands together. Hence suryanamaskar is pronounced as Sunsalutation in English. Sun salutation is a way of offering respect to the sun god as he represents health and wealth.
According to yogic thoughts, it is believed that offering prayer to the sun is blessed with health and prosperity.
The twelve powerful posture of Suryanamaskar activates all the organs and glands of the human body and thereby ensures it functions properly for healthy living. This is known to be one of the best techniques to reduce fat faster as it burns more calories in a short span.
Initially, you can start with 12 rounds and gradually increase to more than 50 rounds based on your fitness level and time availability. This can be practiced from the comfort of your home as you need a small space to accommodate a yoga mat and freehand movement.
Most Yoga Classes use this routine as a warmup sequence which should be done before attempting the Asana. The Asana is usually retained for about 20 seconds or more hence warming up is essential to avoid injuries.
The two major advantage of this workout is it comes at less price, and you must spend only on a good yoga mat rather expensive equipment, and this is suitable even for people who live on a tight schedule.
It must be noted that Suryanamaskar is practiced on an empty stomach or no food must be consumed at least three to four hours beforehand and it is a must to learn under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.
Suryanamaskar is usually done facing the sun in the morning and in the direction of sunset in the evening.
How to do Suryanamaskar:
Different teachers have different ways of teaching the sequence of suryanamaskar. One of the popular authentic schools of yoga called the Mysore style ashtanga yoga has two types which are Called type A and type B and the method we learn here is usually followed by people who generally practice hatha yoga.
Whatever the difference is a novice must first try to master one style and adopt that regularly to gain muscle memory before trying other styles.
One must not forget to follow the simple thumb rule of breathing while doing the sequence which is to inhale while bending back and exhale while bending forward.
Follow these 12 Steps of suryanamaskar.
Step -1 ~ Pranamasan or Prayer Pose.
This is a basic prayer stance. Stand at the edge of the mat keeping your feet together and balance your weight evenly on both feet. As you breathe in, lift both arms up from the sides, and as you exhale bring your palms together in front of the chest in a prayer position.
Step -2 ~ Hasta uttanasana
Breathing in, lift the arms up and bend back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers.
Step -3 ~ Padhahasthasana
Padha means foot and hasta is palms. Breathing out bend forward and bring the palms down and place them on either side of your feet and your forehead must be touching the knees.
( It could be difficult for a beginner to reach the palms to the floor, hence try reaching the fingertip initially and bend only to the extent possible without jerk movements, with regular practice you must be able to gain the flexibility to put complete palms on the floor)
Step -4 ~ Ashwa sanchalasana
Breathing in, send your right leg back, as far back as possible. Bring the right knee to the floor and retain your left foot in the same position which is in between two palms. This pose gives a good stretch to the right quadriceps.
Step -5 ~ Dandasana or Plank
The meaning of danda in Sanskrit is a stick which means your body must be straight when you do this posture. As you breathe out, take the left leg back to maintain keep your body in a high plank.
Ensure your wrists are in the same line as your shoulders, your body in a straight line without arching your spine.
Step -6 ~ Ashtanga namaskar
Ashta is eight and anga is limbs, here eight-part are in contact with the floor which is your feet, knees, chest, chin, and palms lie alongside your chest. From dandasana drop your knees on the floor then chest and chin.
Step -7 ~ Bhujangasana
Inhale and raise your trunk by pressing your palms down, this pose is called the cobra or serpent pose as this resembles the cobra which is about to strike while facing the threat.
Step -8 ~ Adhomukha Svanasana
Adhomukha svanasana in Sanskrit is a downward-facing dog. From bhujangasana exhale then raise your tail bone up and bring your head in between arms so that your body makes an inverted " v ". This pose gives a good stretch to the shoulder and hamstring.
Step -9 ~ Ashwa sanchalasana
Inhale bring your right leg between palms while resting your knee on the floor, this pose is the same as step 3 except the leg's position is interchanged.
Exhale and move your right leg next to your left foot, this stance is again the same as Step 3
Step -11~Hasta uttanasana
Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers. This pose is the same as Step 2
Step -12~ Samastiti or tadasana
As you exhale, first straighten the body, then bring the arms down. Relax in this position and repeat the sequence sending the left leg back this time.
10 Health Benefits of Suryanamaskar:
1. Respiratory System: Suryanamaskar is highly effective in improving the respiration rate. yogis' life span is not decided by the number of years but rather the number of breaths. Yogis believe that the slower and deep the respiration a person survives longer.
In Suryanamaskar the breathing is synchronized with each movement, during exhalation, the lungs empty all the traces of stale gases and refill them with fresh, clean, oxygenated air.
The oxygen content of blood is increased which improves overall vitality. Suryanamaskar practiced this way may help in relieving people suffering from respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis, and tuberculosis.
2. Circulation: Proper circulation is necessary so that blood receives oxygen and the oxygenated blood moves around the body. Suryanamaskar improves the flow of blood, speeds up the elimination of waste matter, and introduces fresh oxygen and nutrients to all the cells. The cardiac muscles to are strengthened.
The circulation of lymph is at optimal and this is of prime importance in fluid balance and in combating infections. The body gains an increased resistance to infections and is better able to heal and in other terms suryanamaskar boosts immunity.
3.Better Digestion: The alternate stretching and compressing movements of suryanamaskar, especially during padhahasthasana allow the abdomen to contract.
The constant forward bending pose tones the whole digestive system by thoroughly massaging all the abdominal viscera. The Practice of suryanamaskar increases the digestive fire promoting a healthy appetite and also it enables complete and rapid assimilation of food.
4.Stimulates Pancrease: Pancrease is an important gland that produces a hormone called insulin. The major role of insulin is to pump glucose into cells.
Surya namaskar compresses the abdominal organs which press the pancreas, especially during backward bending like bhujangasana which stimulates pancreas function.
5. Aids in Weight Loss: Suryanamaskar done at a slower pace has therapeutic benefits and when done at a fast pace after practicing regularly it builds stamina and aerobic capacity. The suryanamaskar can be compared to any other aerobic activity like running, cycling, and swimming.
The 30 minutes practice of suryanamaskar is enough to make us sweat profusely and some studies have a stated that Surya Namaskar can burn up to 400 calories making it a wonderful workout not only to reduce weight but also cut down fat around the abdomen and make you look stunning.
6. Enhances Fitness and Flexibility: Suryanamaskar is also a compound workout that has benefits for the entire body. The muscles are contracted and stretched constantly while switching the poses in a series. It strengthens the muscles involved and also gives a good amount of flexibility while stretching.
7. Stimulates the nervous system: The nervous system is involved in receiving information about the environment around us ( sensation ) and generating responses to that information ( Motor response).
It also deals with higher cognitive functions such as memories, learning, and emotion to produce a response. Suryanamaskar tones the nerves' flow by stimulating internal organs. It stretches nerves, works on the spine, and enhances Prana, which activates brain centers. The whole nervous system is activated.
8. Endocrine system: The main function of the endocrine glands is the production and secretion of hormones or the chemical substances released into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body which act upon a particular organ.
Some of the glands of the Endocrine system are:
1. Hypothalamus - Functions include releasing hormones and regulating body temperature
2. Pineal Gland. - Produces melatonin which induces sleep
3. Pituitary Gland - Also known as Master gland as it controls other glands
4. Thyroid - It plays a major role in metabolism and growth.
5. Parathyroid - Monitors the calcium in the blood.
6. Thymus - This gland protects us from bacteria and viruses.
7. Adrenal - This gland produces hormones for emergency situations.
8. Pancrease - It secretes insulin which aids in digestion.
All the glands must secrete the right amount of hormones, any imbalance like over secretion and under secretion results in diseases. Surya namaskar activates these glands and plays an essential role in the maintenance of these glands.
9.For a Healthy Skin - The skin is the largest body organ and apart from holding the body together it serves to regulate body temperature as well as excreting waste matter through perspiration.
Suryanamaskar brings shine to your face and maintains your skin radiant plus and ageless. Many have seen a noticeable difference in their skin health that It keeps skin free from acne, pimples, and other skin troubles.
10. Highly beneficial for Women - A lot of young women these days undergo uneven menstruation. Doing suryanamaskar on an everyday basis help to control the menstrual cycles plus also ease childbirth. It surely improves your probability of having natural birth and balances the feminine hormones.
Surya namaskar has been practiced in many forms of yoga as it warms up the body and makes one ready to perform asanas. Patanjali stated, "sthiram sukham Asanam" which means asana has to be steady and comfortable. Suryanamaskar did before Asana practice helps in Achieving it.
This PDF can be used for a quick glance and as a reference in your practice.
Note: It is always desirable to learn yoga or any yogic practice under the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher.
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