Are you a working professional who doesn’t get enough time for workouts?
All the house chores and responsibilities of keeping your family happy and healthy made you forget your responsibility towards your body?
Do you dream of being fit and getting a flatter belly?
Are you not able to maintain consistency when it comes to work-outs because of your busier schedule or travelling or motivation?
Do you know about Surya namaskar?
To be fit as a fiddle workouts are so important; however; we tend to ignore the most essential part of our life in the hustle and bustle of work.
Fitness is a journey, not a destination; you must continue for the rest of your life.
What if I say I have a mantra, a quick and intense workout that is fast and saves time? For this workout, you don’t need to step-out for walking, jogging, or gymming. This works not only for your weight loss but also helps to build off your mental and physical well-being.
It’s not a miracle; it’s a practice from Hindu mythology that has existed for centuries and has withstood the test of time. I’m referring to Surya Namaskar. It has been recognized as one of the most wonderful and easy methods for losing weight or to stay in shape. Let us understand the significance behind this age-old yoga.
What is Surya Namaskar?
Surya means sun, the creator of all life in the world and nama means salutation, to bow or worship. Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) is a method to offer our prayers and gratitude to sunlight that’s the origin of the energy in the world.
Apart from offering reverence to the Sun God, it’s an excellent full-body workout and also known to have a positive impact on the body, mind, and soul. It’s also known as ‘The Ultimate Asana’ which consists of a set of 12 powerful yoga postures or asanas that offer a brilliant cardiovascular workout.
To complete one set of Surya Namaskar 92% of the body muscles are engaged from head to toe which helps to strengthen our back, lower body, upper body, and core muscles.
It helps to improve metabolism and lose belly fat. It works on the improvement of blood circulation which in turn imparts glowing skin and releases toxins out of the body.
It boosts the performance of sluggish glands which regulates menstrual cycles. It is known to be a very good workout to strengthen the spine which is the backbone of the body.
In a nutshell, it is a comprehensive workout that benefits the entire body – when done at a slower pace, helps to improve flexibility; when done at a moderate pace helps to improve the muscular tone and when done at a fast pace it helps to lose weight.
A step-by-step guide to the Surya Namaskar with proper breathing and benefits that you get:
Step 1: Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
Exhale and stand erect with feet together and hands in namaskar mudra in front of your chest and relax.
Benefits: As you begin the exercise this posture helps to calm the mind, nervous system, and body.
Step 2: Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)
Now from the prayer pose, Inhale, raise your hands and bend backward as much as possible. Your biceps should be near to your ears and body should be stretched from toe to the tips of your figures, pushing the hips out and legs straight.
Benefits: This asana helps to improve flexibility, reduces backache, and strengthens the spinal cord. It also releases the tension around the neck muscles. It expands the lungs and thus the oxygen-carrying capacity of the body.
Step 3: Hastapadasana (Hand to foot pose)
Exhale, now bend down from your waist and try to touch the floor with your palms. Fingertips should be in line with the toes. Your back should be straight. At first touching, the floor with palms may not be possible, in that case, bend your knees. Try straightening your knees and touch your head to your knees.
Benefits: This posture helps strengthen the back, abdominal muscles, and nervous system. It also stretches the calves and glutes muscles. This asana increases the blood flow to the brain which helps in memory and focus. Also, it increases blood flow to the abdominal area thereby improving the digestive system.
Step 4: Ashwa sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
Now breathing in, push back your left leg as much as you can. Your right knee should be in between both your palms. Your left knee should be touching the ground along with your foot bend down. Look up and stay in the position. Now straighten your foot by balancing it on the floor with the help of your toes. Keep looking up.
Benefits: It helps in increasing the flexibility of the legs. It also strengthens the spine and increases lung capacity.
Step 5: Dandasna (Plank pose)
Hold the breathe, bring your right leg back, and support your weight on both your palms. Make sure your palms are perpendicular to the floor.
Benefits: This asana works on the abdomen and reduces belly fats. It makes arms, shoulders, and wrists stronger.
Step 6: Ashtanaga namaskar (The Eight Limbed Pose)
Exhale; lower your knees to the floor, then your chest, and then your chin. Keep your hips up and the toes curled under.
Benefits: This pose tones and strengthens the arms, shoulders, and legs. This also releases tension around the neck and the shoulder area. It also improves the spine’s flexibility.
Step 7: Bhujangasna (Cobra Asana)
Inhale, raise your chest and bend back, lower your hips, point your toes and look up. Your lower body will be on the floor and upper body in the air. In this position keep the legs together and point your toes.
Benefits: It helps to reduce headaches and backache. It relieves tension from the neck, back, and spine. It promotes flexibility of the spine, improves posture, thereby helping to prevent slipped discs.
Step 8: Adho mukh savana (Downward facing down)
Exhale; now lift your waist and hips keeping your hands and legs on the floor. Your body should form an ‘inverted V shape’. Try to push your heels and head down and keep your shoulders back.
Benefits: This step has incredible health benefits. It improves blood circulation, calms the nerves, and relieves stress. For women, it helps relieve symptoms of menopause, back pain, and headaches
Step 9: Ashwa sanchalanasana (The Lunge Pose)
Inhaling, step forward, and place the left foot between your hands. Rest the other knee on the floor and look up, as in step 4.
Step 10: Pada Hastasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
Exhale; bring the other leg forward and bend down from the waist, repeat step 3.
Step 11: Hastauttanasana (Raised arms pose)
Inhaling, stretch your arms forward, then up and back over your head, and bend back slowly from the waist, as in step 2.
Step 12: Tadasana
Exhale; gently come back to the Namaste position and relax.
There can be any number of variations to these postures, but following one type and practicing it daily will show better results.
Common mistakes which should be avoided while performing Surya Namaskar:
- As a beginner you should first focus on the posture at every step, it is advisable not to rush for more rounds before mastering the steps. Once you master the art of postures with continuous practice you should aim to take your exercise to next level. The next level will be focusing on breathing which involves inhalation and exhalation as explained in the abovestep guide.
- Not following the breathing sequence: Following the correct breathing pattern is very important to gain the maximum benefit of that particular asana.
- Skipping one position: Surya Namaskar is a sequence of varied positions and skipping any one of the steps would break the cycle of breathing and the movements.
- Not performing a light warm-up exercise: Before Surya Namaskar it is recommended to do some warm-up, light stretches exercises to avoid any kind of injuries.
- It’s best to begin your practice in the presence of a trained professional if you’re a beginner.
- It’s not advisable for people with very high blood pressure, recent surgery, severe back pain, etc
- It’s best to practice Shawasana for a couple of minutes as you end your Surya Namaskars.
Surya Namaskar is a complete package of workout and benefits from head to toe if performed regularly and properly. Few more benefits of Surya Namaskar include:
Must read: Health benefits of Surya namaskar
It helps to lose weight if done at a fast pace:
As per one study doing one round of Surya Namaskara (12 postures in sequence) required 13.90 calories. Hence, you can start with 10 sets initially and can build up-to 108 sets based on your strength and time.
Good for Skin:
Regular practice of Surya Namaskar improves the blood circulation in the body which brings glow to your skin.
Strengthens the joints and muscles:
Performing Surya Namaskar regularly tones, strengthens and stretches your muscles, ligaments, and joints. The 12 postures when performed in sequential order improve the flexibility of your spin.
Improves the functioning of the digestive system:
Surya Namaskar aids in the smooth functioning of your digestive system by increasing blood flow to your intestines. This further helps in regulating the bowel movement.
Awesome way to detox:
During the process of Surya Namaskar, you breathe actively and rhythmically which ventilates the lungs properly and the blood gets highly oxygenated. This aids the detoxification of the body while also improving the flow of lymph which carries toxins to the organs of excretion.
Keeps tension and anxiety at bay and helps you to stay mentally fit:
Generally performing Yoga helps in improved memory and the functioning of the nervous system. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar helps you calm down and free yourself of worries and anxiety. It normalizes the activity of the endocrine glands, especially the thyroid.
Must read: 15 Excellent ways to boost metabolism
The ideal time to perform Surya Namaskar is during sunrise facing towards the sun. However; it may not be possible to do it in a fast-paced life and hence instead of missing it, doing it whenever it suits your schedule is preferred. Ultimately it is a quick full-body workout that will hardly take 30 – 40 minutes based on your speed and number of sets and has tremendous physical and mental benefits. Just make sure to do it with an empty stomach or at least 2-3 hours of gap after your meal.