Surya Namaskar: a great way to start the day
The Surya Namaskar, best known as Sun Salutation, is a great way to start the day. It’s a full body workout that leaves you energized and ready to start the day with the right food. It is equally good for the body as it is for the mind, offering you the opportunity to express your gratitude to the sun for sustaining life on this planet.
Made of 12 powerful yoga postures best known as asanas, the Sun Salutation allows you to keep the body in shape while keeping the mind calm and healthy. The best time of the day to practice it is at dawn or early in the morning, as long as you don’t have any food before your practice. Of course, you can practice the Surya Namaskar throughout the day but after sunset you might want to switch to Chandra Namaskar, also known as Moon Salutation.
When possible, it is advisable to practice in nature but if you are practicing inside, choose a spot that makes you feel comfortable. You might want to do your Sun Salutation in front of a window overlooking nature and the sun so that you can feel more in touch with the earth while catching some rays.
If you’re a newbie to Surya Namaskar, take it easy, don’t overdo it. In the beginning, it is important to learn the practice with the aid of a trained and experienced yoga teacher that will guide you through each asana, while showing you the correct way to breath. Once you are acquainted with the practice, you can continue doing the Sun Salutation at home, at your own pace. To make sure you’re on top of the sequence, you can follow a video, such as this one:
I find it very useful as it explains how to do a Surya Namaskar correctly, while reminding you to keep on breathing properly which might sound silly (who’s going to forget to breath?!?) but when you are doing Dandasana (similar to planking) you’ll probably tend to hold your breath in instead of breathing regularly. It is very important to breath and move at the same time: the two have to be complementary. One rule to keep in mind is that you should inhale while bending backwards as this movement naturally causes the expansion of the chest. At the same time, you should exhale while bending forward as this movement compresses the chest and the abdomen. During three of the twelve asana you should hold your breath in.
How many rounds should you be doing? The magic number is twelve. One set consists of two rounds divided as follows: six with the right leg and six with the left leg. Nevertheless, when you’ll start doing the Sun Salutation, you’ll get tired quite easily so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do twelve rounds from the start. I was told that it is best to start with three rounds, then gradually increase to six, until you comfortably reach nine and then manage to do the full twelve rounds. Make sure you do as many rounds with both right and left leg to keep your practice balanced.
For what concern speed, you can practice the Surya Namaskar at a slow, medium or fast pace depending on what you’re hoping to achieve. A slow pace will improve muscle toning and strengthening. A faster pace will serve as a cardio workout. If you’re fit enough you can also do it as a warm-up exercise. As with any other sports the trick is in commitment: as they say, practice makes perfect.
Overall the Surya Namaskar is a complete spiritual practice as it includes asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation techniques. Its versatility and applicability make it one of the most useful methods to reach a healthy, vigorous and active lifestyle, at the same time, allowing you to prepare for spiritual awakening and the consequent expansion of awareness.
I’ll be writing more posts on things and activities to bring you mind-body balance in this section of the blog so make sure you bookmark it 😉
What was your experience with the Surya Namaskar? I want to hear all about it!
Disclaimer: make sure you consult your doctor before doing the Sun Salutation as it might not be the right practice for you. The information on this blog is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this blog.