- Sun Salutation - Complete Workout For
Your Mind and Body in Just Ten Minutes
By Constantine George
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
is part of Hatha Yoga (the "physical" part of Yoga).
Sun Salutation has multiple mental
and physical benefits. In only ten minutes you can achieve a
low impact workout that combines both Resistance Training (e.g.
weight lifting) and Cardiovascular ("Cardio") Training.
The fitness community accepts
the fact that cardiovascular exercise has reduced benefits (e.g.
fat burning ends once the cardio exercise stops). It also has
disadvantages like tear and wear of joints.
Resistance Training on the other
hand, has multiple benefits: increases muscle mass hence more
fat burning capability, increases bone density to mention just
a few. The drawback: it is painful (I know I don't like the feeling
of burning in my muscles, even though I know it is good for me).
Resistance training is also time consuming and it may increase
blood pressure momentarily if not done properly.
A good compromise is Interval
Training that consists of hard alternated with light pace cardio
exercise. And this is exactly where Sun Salutation comes in.
It is similar with Interval Training by combining a low impact
resistance training (push-ups, squats) with cardio exercise.
Even better, the benefits of Sun Salutation don't stop at the
physical level: your mind benefits as well.
Regular practice of Sun Salutation
benefits your body with:
- Increased blood oxygenation
by copious lung ventilation and this is great news for your heart.
- Stretches and tones your muscles
keeping them supple and flexible.
- Clears your elimination channels
helping your body rid itself of toxins. This is especially good
in the morning after many hours of lack of movement during sleep
(the lymphatic system eliminates toxins through movement).
- Stimulates and tones your Endocrine
system (especially the Thyroid, the master gland that controls
all the other glands).
- Tones up the internal abdominal
organs by alternate stretching, compression cycles that results
in better digestion and bowel movement.
- Increases spine and waist flexibility.
The mental benefits of Sun Salutation
are similar with meditation. You can look at Sun Salutation as
meditation in movement. It is not random that Tai-Chi (Chinese)
or Kata in Karate, have a similar focussed mind on movement approach
at the core of their practice. Sun Salutation helps to:
- Increase your mental focus and
- Reduce depression, anxiety and
stress by reducing key markers like Cortisol.
- Increase the quantity of "good
mood" neurotransmitters like Serotonin.
- Increase mind to body coordination
which is very good especially for older persons.
If done properly, twelve repetitions
of Sun Salutation (six pairs of Sun Salutation starting with
one leg and then the other), go a long way. It takes roughly
30-40 seconds for one complete cycle (twelve postures flowing
from one to the other). Add two minutes of relaxation at the
end, to allow your body implement the "reset" you just
performed, and you are ready for the new day.
Ten minutes all together in the
morning will help you look at the unwinding life from a different