Surya Namaskar or sun salutation is being practiced, since time immemorial. It is an ancient way to express gratitude towards- The sun. Which is the source of life on the planet earth. Surya Namaskar is a complete workout that enhances our physiological, psychological, and neurological capabilities. It consists of 12 different postures. Each posture of Surya Namaskar has its own health benefits.
As per a belief, It is said to have been introduced by the king of Aundh in Maharastra. He instructed that Surya Namaskar should be practiced in the area under his jurisdiction. And the sequence of poses of Surya Namaskar must be maintained in order to get optimum health benefits.
Why practice Surya Namaskar?
The sun is the source of life. For many centuries- we have bowed down and offered prayers to the sun. It is a belief that an element of the sun is present in everything- we eat, drink, and breathe. Surya Namaskar offers- a complete workout of our system to keep it in a healthy, active, and aware state. Which, we need to carry out our activities in the world to achieve our goals in life.
The meaning of Surya Namaskar is salutations to the sun. However, 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 the meaning of Surya Namaskar is- we bow with complete gratitude before the one who illuminates the world.
Scientific Reasons of prcticing Surya Namaskar.
The healing power of the sun and the health benefits of Surya Namaskar have been scientifically proven. Practicing Surya Namaskar in the direction of the rising sun helps in maintaining optimum vitamin – D levels. Research suggests that vitamin D can play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different health conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis. Low levels of vitamin- D may lead to depression.
Moreover, the solar plexus- located behind the navel in the human body is connected to the sun. The solar plexus plays an important role in the functioning of the stomach, kidneys, liver, and adrenal glands. Regularly practicing Surya Namaskar enhances solar plexus.
How to do Surya Namaskar?
The following are the 12 sequence-wise steps for doing Surya Namaskar:-
Step- i: Prayer pose (Pranamasana):
Surya namaskar begins with the prayer pose, or Pranamasana. It is the first namaskar toward the sun. Stand upright with your feet closely aligned. Take a deep breath, expand your chest, and relax your shoulders. While you inhale, raise your arms, and as you exhale, fold the hands in prayer position before your heart.
Step- 2; Raised arms pose (Urdhva Hastanasana):
Retain the previous position. Upon inhalation, lift your arms up and slightly lean backward. Ensure your biceps are close to your ears. Try to stretch your whole body. The stretching loosens up the knots in the entire body.
Step- 3: Standing forward pose (Uttanasana):
As you exhale, bend forward at the hips and bring your arms downward. Place your hands beside your feet. Make sure your knees are straight and your spine is erect. The pose strengthens the back, abdominal muscles, and nervous system.
Step 4: Equestrian Pose (Ashwa Sanchalanasana), right leg:
Inhale, and extend your left leg behind you as far as possible. Now, fold your right knee and place it close to the right part of the chest. Keep your hands on the floor and spread your fingers. Look up and bend your neck slightly backward. This posture provides psychological benefits and increases flexibility in the legs.
5th Step: Plank Pose (Phalkasana):
Breathe in, stretch your right leg behind you, and bring your body into a straight line. Keep your body parallel to the floor. This is a great pose that tones the wrists, legs, and arms and prepares the practitioner for more challenging arm balances.
Step-6 : eight angle pose ( Ashtanga namaskara):
Slowly bring your knees to the floor and breathe out. Rest your chin, chest, hands, and feet on the ground, and raise your hips and abdomen high. This yoga asana makes the chest muscles and hands strong.
Step- 7: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Tuck your elbows to the sides of your body. Press your palms into the mat and lift your chest and head off the ground. Arc your neck backward and rotate your shoulder blades away from your ears. Gaze in an upward direction. It is a perfect pose to treat a headache and backache.
Step- 8 : (Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana):
Transform into the downward dog from Bhujangasana by elevating your hips up, keeping the heels on the ground, and making an inverted V with your body. It rewards the practitioners with multiple benefits such as relief from stress, improved circulation, enhanced respiration, and better posture, to name a few.
Step- 9 : (Equestrian Pose- left leg- (Ashwa Sanchalanasana):
From adho mukha svanasana, move into equestrian pose. Repeat step (4) again, but with the opposite side. Inhale, bring your left foot forward and place it between your hands, and then rest your left knee on the ground. Look upward, towards the ceiling.
Step- 10 : (Standing forward pose (Uttanasana):
Gently bring your right foot next to your left foot. Keeping the position of your hands intact, lift your body upward and slowly come into an Hasta Padasana Posture.
Step- 11 : (Raised arms pose (Urdhva Hastanasana):
Take a deep breath, stretch your arms up overhead, and slightly arch your back. Try to stretch your body upward instead of backward, and keep your biceps close to your ears.
STEP- 12 ; ( Prayer pose (Pranamasana):
Stand upright with your feet closely aligned. Take a deep breath, expand your chest, and relax your shoulders. While you inhale, raise your arms, and as you exhale, fold the hands in prayer position before your heart.
Finally, exhale, bring your arms down, and stand upright in a relaxed manner. Feel the positive vibrations within your body and mind. Experience unparalleled serenity and refreshment.
What are the health benefits of Surya Namaskar?
The entire planet gets life and energy from the sun. To honor this life sustainer and nourisher- a series of yogic exercises were introduced and named Surya Namaskar or sun salutation. Surya Namaskar has numerous health benefits- a few of which are mentioned below:-
1. Health benefits of Surya Namaskar- Healthy body:
Surya Namaskar helps in maintaining your body in a healthy state. It strengthens your legs, ankle, and feet. It makes your hips strong, relieves sciatica, and reduces flat feet. The prayer position- with folded hands in a namaste position connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain. It improves the respiratory and digestive systems.
All asanas practiced in Surya Namaskar focus on different nerve centers called chakras. They help in toning up the majority of body parts like- arms, ads, thighs, and butt. It improves your body flexibility and helps in maintaining correct body posture.
2. Health benefits of Surya Namaskar- Optimizes blood circulation:-
Surya Namaskar optimizes oxygen levels in the blood and keeps your lungs well-ventilated due to the active inhalation and exhalation process adopted during different poses. It detoxifies the body by exhaling carbon dioxide and removing other harmful elements from the body.
Surya Namaskar provides- a quick and nice workout for your body. Optimized blood circulation in your body helps in maintaining hormonal balance. It helps in maintaining cholesterol levels with improved heart health.
3. Health benefits of Surya Namaskar- Improves digestive process and helps in maintaining healthy BMI:-
Surya Namaskar helps in improving the digestive process by releasing the required quantity of digestive juices. The regular practice of Surya Namaskar- tones up abdominal muscles and reduces extra fat deposits. This helps in maintaining a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index). Which reduces the risk of many health problems like- cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.
4. Health benefits of Surya Namaskar- Improves skin glow:
Regularly practicing Surya Namaskar helps in optimizing blood circulation, detoxification, better digestion, and improves the quality and quantity of sleep. Which enables you to have glowing skin and luscious hair.
5. Health benefits of Surya Namaskar- Provides emotional stability:
Surya Namaskar has calming effects on your brain. The downward dog, cobra poses stimulates nerves, reduces anxiety levels, promotes positivity, and strengthens your nervous system. Deep breathing techniques relax nerve centers or chakras. Which creates a positive impact on the brain and helps in optimizing emotional stability and creativity.
6. Surya Namaskar- Healthy gut- better absorption of nutrients:
Surya Namaskar helps in maintaining a healthy gut. By alternately stretching and compression of abdominal organs- your digestive fire (Agni) gets optimized. Which improves your digestive process and helps in better absorption of nutrients- thus improving overall health. Nutrients help in the better performance of our all vital organs. An unhealthy- diet and lifestyle may lead to various health problems like- obesity, thyroid dysfunction, type-2 diabetes, etc.
7. Surya Namaskar- Improves fitness and flexibility:
The 12 poses practiced in Surya Namaskar provide strength to the entire body. It boosts your body’s flexibility and improves your fitness levels. The Ashtanga Namaskar or eight-angle pose strengthens your wrist joints. the forward fold helps in strengthening your limbs and spine.
8. Surya Namaskar- Activates the heart chakra:
The prayer pose during practicing Surya Namaskar- both hands are joined in front of the heart center – activates the heart chakra according to yogic traditions. The heart chakra is the fourth primary chakra, which is associated with balance, calmness, and serenity.
9. Surya Namaskar- Helps in controlling Blood pressure and strengthens the heart:
Adopting a regular practice of Surya Namaskar helps in controlling blood pressure. It is very beneficial for your heart muscles and helps in controlling irregular heartbeats. This may help in reducing the risk of heart disease. It can also help in controlling sugar levels.
10. Surya Namaskar- ENHANCES YOUR ENERGY LEVELS:
The breathing pattern (inhalation and exhalation) adopted during Surya Namaskar helps to enhance our energy levels, as an optimal quantity of oxygen and nutrients are available for cellular mitochondria to produce the required energy to perform different body functions. Surya Namaskar relaxes your body and minds deeply and deliberately. It sharpens your senses and adds to your self-awareness.
Precautions to be adopted during Surya Namaskar:
- Follow the steps in order (1 to 12).
- Maintain correct postures.
- Maintain rhythmic breathing patterns.
- Increase repetitions in a gradual manner, without straining your system.
- Adopt healthy eating habits, preferring a vegetarian diet.
- Practice Surya Namaskar regularly, and remain conscious.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
- Stay hydrated.
Thus Surya Namaskar can help you in leading a healthy life- physically, emotionally, and spiritually in modern times- when everyone is in a hurry, stressed, and facing tough competition Adopt it as a daily routine, after consultation with your healthcare advisor.
For awareness purposes only.
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