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7 Health Benefits of Surya Namaskar: All You Need to Know about Sun Salutations

by Nikita Mayuresh and Irina

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The life and energy are given by the Sun to the entire world. So, why not do a little sequence to honor the life nourisher and sustainer?

With this in mind, a series of exercises were introduced in several yoga books with the name of Surya Namaskar, or sun salutations.

As a school of philosophical thought, yoga emphasizes that the human body needs to be healthy to carry out numerous other activities in the world. We achieve such good health through our food, thought processes, living in hygienic conditions, maintaining proper body postures and meditation. How to obtain all these on a daily basis? Starting the day with a sun salutation is a great first step!

Here’s all you need to know about the poetic Surya Namaskar:

Origin of Surya Namaskar

sun salutation silhouette in sunrise

It is said that the King of Aundh was the first one to introduce sun salutations. He stated that this sequence must be maintained on a regular basis and without fail under his reign in the Maharashtra region of India. Whether this story is true or not, the beginning of this tradition has its origins in that region, and the most popular form of exercise to begin each day is Surya Namaskar.

Nowadays, many schools in India practice and teach yoga to all their students and start their days with the beautiful and poetic collection of exercises known as sun salutations. 

The literal translation of the word “Surya Namaskar” is salutations to the Sun. However, if one looks carefully into its etymological meaning, it has a deeper meaning. The word “Namaskar” means “I bow my head with complete gratitude and offer myself to you wholeheartedly without being biased and partial”. The word “Surya” means “the one who expands and illuminates the world”.

Thus, when we do Surya Namaskar, we bow with complete gratitude before the one who illuminates the world. If that’s not beautiful, I don’t know what is.

7 Health Benefits of Surya Namaskar

benefits of sun salutations

1. Tones muscles and improves flexibility

All the asanas carried out in Surya Namaskar focus on different muscle groups and nerve centers called Chakras. This helps you tone almost all your body parts including arms, abs, thighs, and butt. It also gives you more flexibility and improves your body posture.

2. Great cardio training and hormonal balance

Surya Namaskar gives your body a quick and nice workout. If done in a fast manner, it acts as a cardio workout for your abs, thighs, and butt. Improved blood circulation results in low cholesterol levels and improved heart health. Another benefit of proper blood circulation is a good hormonal balance. Keep in mind that blood is the carrier of our hormones, so, if it is working properly, they’ll reach all your organs without a problem. 

3. Improves digestion and promotes weight loss

Proper exercise and proper rest along with a balanced diet result in improved insulin sensitivity. Sun salutations stimulate the digestive tract by producing the right kind of digestive juices. Thus, you improve your metabolism, which helps you get rid of all toxins and burn all the extra calories. 

4. Increases energy and awareness levels

Along with asanas, the breathing pattern is also an important aspect of Surya Namaskar. This gives deep conscious relaxation to the body and mind. It helps to relax the mind and sharpen the senses. It increases your self-awareness, which increases your energy levels.

5. Enables Better Absorption of Nutrients

Proper blood circulation and digestion enables better absorption of nutrients, which in turn improves your overall health. Nutrient absorption helps to carry out vital functions in the body. In today's world, unhealthy lifestyles have led to many disorders like thyroid dysfunction, PCOD, PCOS, obesity, etc. Surya Namaskar can be part of a healthy routine which is proven to keep such diseases at bay.

6. Reduces moods swings and brings more emotional stability

Deep breathing techniques with specific asanas provide great relaxation to the nerve cells or chakras. It can positively impact brain functioning. Specifically, it helps you balance between the right and left sides of the brain. This brings you more emotional stability and increases your creativity and mental capacity. 

7.  Improves Your Skin Glow

A nice-glowing skin is a result of good blood circulation, good digestion, relaxation and good sleep. You get all of this with sun salutations!

How to do a Sun Salutation

woman doing yoga poses for sun salutation

There’s a total of 9 different asanas which together form 1 set of Surya Namaskar:

  1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
  2. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
  3. Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Posture)
  4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
  5. Chaturanga Dandasana (The Stick Pose)
  6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts or points)
  7. Bhujangasana(Cobra Pose)
  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
  9. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Check out this infographic to learn more about it. 

surya namaskar infographic

Do’s and Don’ts of Surya Namaskar

You should always follow the instructions of your yoga teacher. However, here are a few important tips to keep in mind when you do sun salutations:

  • Do maintain correct body postures
  • Do have proper and rhythmic breathing
  • Do follow the steps in order
  • Do increase the number of repetitions gradually
  • Do follow a healthy diet  – possibly a vegetarian diet.
  • Do train yourself on a daily basis
  • Do keep awareness while doing each pose
  • Do wear comfortable clothing
  • Do ensure you’re hydrated
  • Do start these exercises at a slow pace
  • Don’t begin in a random order 
  • Don’t be in a hurry about the number of repetitions you can do

Want to enhance the benefits you can get from sun salutations? A yoga and detox retreat can kickstart your journey to a better and healthier you!

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