For people who are really enthusiastic about fitness and exercising, the options are endless. Gym workouts, Pilates, Zumba, a sport, a dance form, aerobics, swimming and many more to keep you fit and have good social company. But many of us are not too keen on physical activity. In such circumstances, a certain multipurpose exercise that will fulfil all workout requirements of the body is really a blessing. Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations in Yoga offer just that.
The Sun is considered as the source of life on Earth and so paying respect to the Sun is an important ritual in many cultures around the world. Surya Namaskar is named as such because while we perform the Yoga postures of this exercise, we also worship Surya, the Sun God. Hence, this exercise is generally done in the morning, although it can also be done at sunset. If you do this late in the evening, you will be doing Chandra Namaskar (Moon Salutation) instead of Surya Namaskar. Chandra Namaskar requires one additional posture.
The Basics of Surya Namaskar
Surya Namaskar is a cyclical exercise that consists of multiple Yoga postures that help stretch and strengthen our limbs, muscles and spine. Depending on how this exercise cycle is counted, Surya Namaskars may have 10 or 12 postures. In most cases, 1 Surya Namaskar comprises 12 postures (12 asanas) out of which 4 postures are performed twice in one cycle. Surya Namaskar is said to be a complete workout that is beneficial to the various organs and systems of the body. Many people also use it as a warm-up exercise.
Effects of Surya Namaskar on your body
Surya Namaskar gives your entire body a good stretch- something the body really needs in our busy yet sedentary lifestyle. The postures of the Surya Namaskar work on the arms, legs, back, heart, liver, stomach and intestines. If done at a slow pace, every Sun Salutation helps strengthen your core muscles. At a fast pace, Surya Namaskar is a great cardio workout for your heart and can help burn fat as well.
The physical postures in Surya Namaskar require appropriate breathing techniques to go with each asana. The inhalation-exhalation process along with the correct asana, activates all the 5 Chakras of the body, improves blood circulation, respiration, stamina, focus and alertness. It also lowers anxiety levels by regulating the functioning of the thyroid gland, keeps your skin looking healthy, improves memory and delays signs of ageing.
Unlike many other forms of exercise, Surya Namaskar is all about quality over quantity. Of course, doing a higher number of Sun Salutations is beneficial to the body, but it is important that each Surya Namaskar is done right and not in a hurry to reach a target number. This can cause injury, breathlessness, sudden cramp in limbs or pain in internal organs.
Number of Surya Namaskars to be done
A single cycle of Surya Namaskar can help you burn 13-15 calories. This number may seem small at a glance, but doing a greater number of Sun Salutations each day, will ensure that your metabolism functions better. You will eventually burn more calories and increase muscle strength, flexibility and balance. You can choose to do as many sets per day as you feel comfortable. Beginners can start with just 5 Surya Namaskars while experienced Yogis are known to perform more than 100 Sun Salutations each day. If you follow a regular exercise routine and are sufficiently active, 12 Surya Namaskars each day an ideal number. Holding every posture for 15-30 seconds is supremely beneficial for the body.
Most people today begin and end Surya Namaskars just like any other form of exercise, but the Sun Salutations generally begin with a small prayer to the Sun by chanting of mantras with each posture.
If you are healthy, not extremely over-weight, have no major health complaints, illnesses or pain, Surya Namaskar is a risk-free, ideal workout routine for you. But it is best to perform any exercise under expert supervision. If you wish to begin a Surya Namaskar routine, but have some health concerns or temporary problems, you must consult a doctor before you begin. Senior citizens, pregnant women, patients with high blood pressure or those suffering from back problems should refrain from doing this exercise routine.
A wholesome workout
Surya Namaskar is said to be a Sarvaanga Sundar exercise (complete body, beautiful/healthy workout) as it connects the mind and body, brings harmony to all the systems of the body and leaves you feeling energized, strong and positive. Make Sun Salutations a part of your daily exercise regime and notice a positive difference in your mood, appearance, strength and emotions.
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