The life and energy are given by the Sun to the entire world. It is in this note that it was realized by the human beings to bow and pay their salutations to the life nourisher and sustainer.
It was felt that the regards will not be offered in the form of the prayers only. Subsequently, a series of exercises were introduced in the popular books of Yoga under the banner of SURYA NAMASKAR, or sun salutations.
As a school of philosophical thought, Yoga emphasized that the human body needs to be in a healthy form to carry out numerous other activities in the world. Good health is gained through good food, proper thought processes, living in hygienic conditions, maintaining proper body postures and meditating on a daily basis. These may be achieved through control over the body. Thus, yogic exercises were introduced and the most basic one to kick off the day was is considered to be the poetic Surya Namaskar.
Origin of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations)
There are other stories present in the history books that King of Aundh introduced sun salutations first. He also instructed that Surya Namaskar and the related exercises must be maintained on a regular basis and without fail under his reign in Maharashtra region of India. Whatever is the true story, the beginning of this tradition indeed hails from that region, and the most popular form of exercise to begin each day is the Surya Namaskar.
Nowadays, one may observe many schools in India and abroad which practice and teach yoga to many individuals, and especially the beautiful and poetic collection of exercises known as sun salutations. But the original spot for Surya Namaskar is India. It is from here that it expanded and gained fame in other countries.
The Meaning of Surya Namaskar
The literal meaning of the word “SURYA NAMASKAR” means salutations to the Sun. However, if one looks carefully into its etymological meaning, it gives us the depth and importance of the word. 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, in its entire meaning, it means that “one bows before the Sun with complete obeisance”. If that’s not beautiful, I don’t know what is.
There are total 9 different asanas which together form 1 set of Surya Namaskar.
- Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
- Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
- Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot Posture)
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
- Chaturanga Dandasana (The Stick Pose)
- Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute with eight parts or points)
- Bhujangasana(Cobra Pose)
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
- Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Top 7 Health Benefits of Surya Namaskar
Other than these benefits, other general health advantages are the following:
1. Tones Muscles and Improves Flexibility
All the asanas carried out in Suryanamaskar focuses on different muscle groups and nerve centers called Chakras. This helps in toning almost all your body parts including arms, abs, thighs, and butt. It is also well known to improve body flexibility. It helps improve the body postures by bringing in the flexibility and balance in the entire body. It is an all in one technique. As the muscle tone improves your overall personality is enhanced as well.
2. Improves Blood Circulation and Heart Health
Suryanamaskar gives your body a quick and nice workout. If done in a fast manner it acts as a HIIT cardio workout for your abs, thighs, and butt. Improved blood circulation results in low cholesterol levels and improved heart health. Suryanamaskar lowers the risk of stroke. One more benefit of proper blood circulation is the hormonal balance. Blood is the carrier of our hormones. It carries them to the destined organ to carry out vital functions.
3. Improves Digestion and Promotes Weight Loss
Proper exercise and proper rest along with a balanced diet results in improved insulin sensitivity and increases metabolism. This definitely stimulates the digestive tract by producing the right kind of digestive juices. Different asanas in Surya Namaskar directs the blood flow to various vital organs which helps them improve their performance.
4. Increases Energy and Awareness Levels
Along with asanas, the breathing pattern is also an important aspect of Surya Namaskar. This gives a deep conscious relaxation to the body and mind. It helps to relax the mind and sharpen the intellect. It increases the self-awareness. The relaxed mind and healthier body then result in improved energy levels.
5. Enables Better Absorption of Nutrients
Proper blood circulation and digestion enables a better absorption of nutrients, which in turn improves your overall health. Nutrient absorption helps to regulate hormones, carry out vital functions in the body. In today's world, unhealthy lifestyles have led to many disorders like thyroid dysfunction, PCOD, PCOS, obesity. The percentage of these diseases was much lower 20 to 30 years ago. 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 a great relaxation to the nerve cells or chakras. It can positively impact brain functioning. Specifically, it helps in balancing between the right and left sides of the brain. This helps bring more emotional stability and increases your creativity and mental effort capacity. It helps in reducing mood swings and instability.
7. Improves Your Skin Glow
A nice-glowing skin is a result of good blood circulation, good digestion, proper relaxation and including certain foods in your diet which help achieve this beautiful effect. Also, there are many yoga asanas which can help you get glowing skin. Most of them are a part of Surya Namaskar.
Tips to do Surya Namaskar
The exercises observed in Surya Namaskar are strictly guided by and under the instructions of the teacher or the experienced trainer. However, the following points should be kept in mind while doing it.
- Maintain Correct Body Postures
- Have Proper and Rhythmic Breathing
- Follow Correct Steps
- Increase Number of Repetitions gradually.
- Follow a Healthy Diet possibly Vegetarian
- Train yourself on a Daily Basis
- Keep Awareness while doing each Pose
- Wear Comfortable Dress
- Proper Hydration Levels
Precautions while doing Surya Namaskar(Sun Salutations)
- It is mandatory to start these exercises at a slow pace.
- Do not begin in a random order in any circumstances
- Do not be in a hurry about the total number of times covered in a day. The right teacher or trainer will always instruct you to be very slow with the body movements and maintain the breathing activities also.
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!