Sun Salutation: 34 Benefits of practicing Sun Salutation

“Surya” means “Sun” and “Namaskar” means “to bow down.” So why is this traditional sequence of postures called Surya Namaskar practiced? The logical conclusion is that the sun is the life or energy source for this planet and is an element in everything we eat, drink or breathe. The earth and the moon are significant in the way they affect life, but the sun is the source of all energy and when one is in tune with the cycles of the sun, physical health, well-being, vitality, and energy, are all yours.

There is no possibility of life in the absence of the Sun’s rays. All life forms will cease to exist if the sun decides to disappear. Solar energy is fundamental even within your body. Your body is maintaining a certain temperature and all that generates heat upon this planet – whether in the form of life or in the form of inanimate material – all of it is solar energy, finding its expression in so many different ways.

Only through learning how to better “digest” the sun, internalize it, and make it a part of your system, do you truly benefit from this process. Surya Namaskar, also known as Sun Salutation in the West, is therefore a process to harness this solar energy to build a dimension within you where your physical cycles become in sync with the sun’s cycles of twelve-and-a-quarter years. So it is by design that Sun Salutation has twelve postures or twelve asanas in it.

Physical Benefits of Sun Salutation?

Sun Salutation comprises a sequence of 12 yoga postures, best done at sunrise. If done fast, it provides a good cardiovascular workout. If done at a slower pace, these postures help tone the muscles and can relax the system and meditative. Regular practice of Sun Salutation improves the functions of the heart, liver, intestine, stomach, chest, throat, and legs – basically, the whole body. The process purifies the blood and improves blood circulation throughout the system and ensures proper functioning of the stomach, bowel, and nerve centers. Practicing Sun Salutation daily helps balance the three constitutions – Vata, Pitha and Kapha – that the body is made up of, according to Ayurvedic science. Sun Salutation is also known to enhance the physical strength of a person.

Though pretty much a complete set of asanas in itself, Sun Salutation also forms an excellent link as a warm-up before other yoga asanas. An asana is a body posture and “Yoga” means that which takes you on to a higher dimension or higher perception of life. So, a posture which leads you to a higher possibility is called a “yogasana.” Among the yogasanas, there are 84 basic asanas through which one can elevate his consciousness or awareness. These do not mean just 84 physical postures. They are 84 systems or in other words, 84 ways of attaining to mukti or enlightenment. Out of this, if you have mastery over even a single yogasana, everything that one is seeking can be known. If you happen to be sad or distressed, observe your posture and you will notice the body is slouched and head hung low. This can be reversed by consciously getting your body into a certain posture and thus elevating your system’s situation and awareness. You can change the very way you feel, think, understand, and experience life by sitting in a particular way. Sun Salutation is one of these systems. Yogis say that doing 12 sets of Sun Salutation means doing 12 powerful yoga asanas within 12 to 15 minutes.

Here’s a few more titbits about Sun Salutation from one of the first books to talk about it in the modern-era. Titled “Surya Namaskar: For Health, Efficiency & Longevity”, and authored by Bhavarav Shrinivasrav, the book was published under the patronage of the Raja of Aundh, a kingdom in the modern state of Uttar Pradesh in North India.

Here’s what the book says about the benefits of Sun Salutation.

34 Benefits of Sun Salutation

When done daily, systematically, correctly and faithfully and according to our instructions, the Surya Namaskar

1. Strengthens the entire digestive system (including stomach, pancreas, intestines, liver, etc.) and cures, and prevents constipation.

2. Invigorates the nervous system (including the brain, spinal cord, lower plexus, and cures brain-fag, forgetfulness, worries and other forms of mental derangement. Though shattered nerves take a longer time and are more difficult to repair than other cells, our graduated course of Surya Namaskars will slowly but surely restore them to normality.

3. Invigorates the heart and will cure and prevent blood preesure, palpitation.

4. Develops the lungs, gives you wind and prevents tuberculosis.

5. Improves the quality and circulation of the blood. Active circulation of the blood is the first law of health.

6. Stimulates glandular activity; gives a new vivacity to the glands. Owing to the stretching and compressing movements of the throat and neck the thyroid gland is stimulated and any tendency to goiter is obviated. Correct glandular functioning governs health and attractiveness.

7. Improves the color and function of the spleen by enabling it to eradicate toxic impurities through profuse prespiration and to absorb vital energy from the atmosphere. A clear skin glowing with ruddy health end vigor is a winning factor for men and women in business and social life.

8. Strengthens the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, back, stomach, waist, abdomen, intestines, thighs, knees, calves and ankles. Strengthening the back is known to be a simple but efficient remedy for kidney troubles.

9. Improves and develops the chest, i. e. keeps it hard, firm and elastic; restores it to normal loveliness.

10. Improves the uterus (womb) and ovaries removes menstrual disorders such all dysmenorrhea and consequent pain and misery.

11. Child-bearing is less painful and more easy. All discomforts from menopause vanish.

12. Will rid women of morning sickness and perverted taste and appetite, peculiar to pregnant women and regarded as inevitable.

13. Increase the quantity and improves the quality or milk in nursing mothers.

14. Proven to halt falling ofd o£ hair, and its tendency to grayness and prevents baldness by increasing nutrition to the hair and scalp, and the bonding of the neck backward and forward, insures good circulation to the bead.

15. Eradicates sexual debility, and the special weakness of men and women.

16. Reduces redundant fat, especially the fat about the abdomen, hips, thighs, neck and chin.

17. Will remove kidney troubles. Strengthens the stomach, neck, back, and chest by the mere rolling of the stomach towards the spine, as in some of the positions of Surya Namaskar. The positions include Pranamasana, Hasta Uttanasana, Hastapaadasana, Ashwa Sanchalana, parvatasana, Ashtanga Namaskara, Bhujangasana, parvatasana, Ashwa Sanchalana,Uttanasana, Hasta Uttanasana, Pranamasana.

18. Reduces the abnormal prominence of the the Adam’s apple by the forward and backward bending of the nook.

19. Destroys the offensive odor of perspiration.

Sun Salutation20. Reduces bowleggedness.

21. Improves knock-knees in walking.

22. Prevents and corrects neurasthenia due to rhythmical breathing.

23. Will increase the height of the body if the positions are correctly performed.

24. Will produce direct mechanical efIect upon the alimenbry canal and will prevent and cure constipation.

25. Not merely gives you external form, shapeliness and muscle of the body, but improves and normalizes the function of most of the vital internal organs.

26. Makes you immune from disease by tremendously increasing your disease-resisting power. The practical test of health is that one should never have even ordinary cold or cough, which is regarded even by some medical men as inevitable or as a matter of course. A healthy person never feels that he has any organ or limb.

27. Takes you step by step quickly, easily, surely, from your present condition to the very height of physical perfection.

28. Is the quickest method for increasing and maintaining youthful buoyancy. The spirit of youth represents an invaluable asset. It is wonderful and satisfactory to know that you are fit and getting the most out of life. Then you have the jump on your follow man.

29. Gives you poise, mental as well as physical.

30. Endows the performer with more mental and psychic power and instills a theistic attitude in her or him gradually. It increases the power of mental concentration, optimism and self-confidence.

31. Is the foundation of healthy and sane life and will be of incalculable benefit to you throughout your life. Long, systematic, continuous and daily practice of Surya Namaskars and right diet, will, in addition to vibrant health and radiant energy, invariably create in you a dislike for all stimulants and sedatives; an aversion to hot things such as capsicum or chilly, pepper, spices and condiments; a lack of relish for fried articles in
general; and to top them of, generates in you the inestimable habit of abstemiousness, which will help you to live long. “The instances of longevity,” says Sir W. Arbuthnot Lane, England’s great surgeon, are chiefly among the abstemious.” In fact, you gradually become partial to Satvika diet, as defined in tho Bhagavad Gita, XVII {The kinds of food which increase life, vitality, strength, pleasure or joy of living, cheerfulness and philanthropy, fellow-feeling, are juicy, fatty or substantial to hunger and delicious or heart strengtheners, are dear to me, and are Satvika.)

32. Will keep you away from sins, for it is the proud act of wellness and disease.

33. Will generate in you good thought, optimistic thoughts; will give a charitable and sanguine turn to your disposition and will imbue you with a spirit of self-sacrifice for the good of your community, your country and your king.

34. And will, in short, unlock the door to g1orious Health, Strength, Efficiency and Longevity, which God intended for you. You will thus see that the Namaskars possess the unique feature of co-ordinated actions
of all the vital organs, nerves, muscles and other parts of the system, which are stimulated, developed and strengthened simultaneously, a result not achieved by any other single exercise.

The book also states, “We do not profess that the Surya Namaskars are a panacea for all the ills that the human flesh is heir to, but we do claim that this system, if loyally and steadfastly followed, will reward the performer with superb Health, vibrant Energy, active Efficiency and Longevity.”

Going beyond Surya Namaskar

There are three processes to align with the sun, the most profound being Surya Kriya. Placing them in context, the widely practiced Sun Salutation may be called a close runner-up of Surya Kriya, while the process of Surya Shakti may be a further watered version. Surya Shakti is for those who want to get physically strong. But if you want to sprinkle your life with a spiritual element in it, you do Sun Salutation. Surya Kriya is for the sadhaka who is seeking strong spiritual process. Surya Kriya is the fundamental practice on which the other two are based and a powerful process of activating the sun within us.

Surya Kriya is a refined process that needs enormous attention in terms of the geometry of the body. Sun Salutation has evolved out of Surya Kriya. While Sun Salutation is largely a salutation to the sun and bringing balance between Ida and Pingala or the masculine and feminine within, it also activates Samath Prana which is the manifestation of the sun’s energy in the body. But Surya Kriya has more spiritual intentions and more powerful connotations attached to it which needs to be taught carefully and learnt with a certain level of involvement. It is very important that it is practiced with precision and care because anything that is powerful has to be handled properly; otherwise, it will not be safe to handle them.

Read on, if you would like to learn a little more about yoga asanas.

What is the science behind yogasanas?

Yogasanas are often misunderstood to mean exercises. While yogasanas can be practiced just physically, a whole new dimension is added when done with awareness and involvement. One can become aware of the breath and the sensations in the body movements. The first process of yoga is to bring balance between the masculine and feminine in you. And that is why one starts on the spiritual path with Hatha Yoga (“Ha” means sun, “ta” means moon) or the yoga of the Sun and the Moon, to bring about the desired balance within. Without an able body with the right inner balance, no higher dimensions of energy can be experienced.

What is Asana Siddhi and how relevant is it?

Asana Siddhi is achieved when one is able to sit in a particular way with absolute ease. For most people, this is an impossibility. But if you practice and give yourself to the process of yoga, slowly there is a certain fluidity, balance in the body, a certain ease and your energy will be at full vibrancy. Becoming meditative will then come naturally.

Yoga asanas are primarily done to align one’s body geometrically to that of the cosmic geometry and to be in sync with the cycles of nature. The basis of all spiritual seeking which is physical in nature is to get oneself in sync with the biology of nature. Being in sync with the solar cycle is an important part of balance and receptivity, a means of taking the body to the edge so that it is not a hurdle. The physical body is a fantastic stepping-stone, an instrument to experience higher possibilities, but for most people it functions like a stumbling block. The compulsions of the body do not allow them to go forward.

How can we use this powerful process to enhance the spiritual aspects?

Yoga is becoming popular and the UN has recently declared June 12th as the International Yoga Day. The scientific community is slowly beginning to recognize the depth and dimension of the process. The flip-side though is the rampant spread of the commercialized and distorted kind of yoga. And it will not be long before, the harmful effects of this distortion will destroy the trust people repose in the process. So it is important that we sustain the classical forms of yoga and retain it as it was. If yoga is taught in the right atmosphere with a certain sense of humility and inclusiveness, it is a really fantastic process for molding the human system into a powerful possibility to perceive existence.


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