Good morning and get ready to greet the day! If your day begins with a blaring alarm and mindlessly scrolling your phone, know that you can do so much better. A few minutes of exercise is all it takes to begin your day in a way that is much more beneficial to your body, mind, and soul. We are talking, of course, about dedicating a portion of your morning to sun salutations. Surya Namaskars, which translate to sun salutations in English, were practiced thousands of years ago by saints who used to worship the sun. The practice of sun salutations has long since been done by others who saw their value. You don’t have to worship the sun to enjoy doing these stretches and get some serious benefits from them!
A Basic Sun Salutation
First, what exactly is a sun salutation? For starters, it isn’t one thing, but several poses done in a flow. The nine basic postures, in order of performance, are:
Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
It isn’t just about getting each pose right, but the movements between the poses as well. The transition from posture to posture is done at the same time as measured breathing. As you move through the sun salutation sequence, carefully monitor your breath. Always breathe through your nose, not your mouth. This is because nasal breathing filters and warms incoming air and slows your breathing down. This gives the sequence a feeling that you are meditating and reduces the risk of “heavy breathing.”
Now that you know the moves, you can decide how many times to do each one. Some yogis suggest that six repetitions are needed. More advanced yogis with extra time in the morning say twelve is the magic number. You decide for you! You will find the right amount of time to dedicate to your own practice. Even just a few Surya Namaskaras each morning brings benefits into your life. You don’t want to skip them all together because you don’t have the time to dedicate an hour to doing your sun salutations one day.
The Powerful Benefits of Daily Sun Salutations
You know that it can be quite easy to neglect workouts when life gets busier. Thankfully, with sun salutations, you don’t need extended hours at the gym or hours upon hours of silence to attain your physical and mental goals. Sun Salutations are a simple form of exercise that bring a lot to your life! This includes:
#1 You will create focus for your day
Sun salutations are a fantastic way to begin your day focused on wellness instead of stress or any other negative emotions. If the first thing you do each morning is check emails or go on Facebook, you’re not setting yourself up for a peaceful beginning to your day. Beginning the day with yoga can carry you through your day with focus, stillness, grace, and acceptance.
#2 You will sleep better at night
Your body needs sleep to be happy and healthy. How is this sleep achieved? Of course, you need a premium mattress and other top bedding essentials so you have a comfortable and supportive place to sleep each night. You also need to make sure your mind is clear and your body is tired. Yoga is great for both of those! Study after study has shown that physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Every day that you do your sun salutations, you have a much better chance of falling asleep easily and sleeping well that night.
#3 You will gain muscle and flexibility
Yogi isn’t just good for your mind; it’s good for your body too! The more you do this series, the stronger and more flexible you will become. A 2011 study showed a significant increase in muscle strength and flexibility among participants who practiced daily sun salutes for six days a week for 24 weeks. Additionally, the study highlighted a notable decrease in body fat and a significant weight loss in the participants.
#4 Yoga boosts the immune system and overall health
We’re all focused on health and immunity right now. Did you know that yoga can help boost your immune system? It is true! Experts tell us that as your body compresses and lengthens during your sun salutation series, your body’s organs take in nutrients while expelling out toxic buildup. With each breath in, your cells refresh themselves. Each breath out, your lung’s alveoli exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. Enriched blood feeds hungry muscles, organs, and cells while restoring the proper function of the body’s systems.
That’s not all. You may not realize it, but your body actually functions better, including your immune system, when you’re relaxed. Like all yoga, these morning sun salutes stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and help you to feel relaxed. A bolstered immune system is better at fighting off sicknesses. A consistent practice will strengthen your immune system even more.
#5 It is great for reducing stress
If you begin to feel your anxiety rise the moment your eyes open, this is detrimental to your long-term health. As mentioned above, beginning the day with sun salutations is a much better way to start your day stress-free than most other options. Throughout your time doing sun salutations, you will likely feel some of your stresses melting away and loosening the hold they may have on your mind. The slow, gentle breathing you do in sun salutations is great for de stressing this way.
Sun salutations offer a host of health and wellness benefits, even for a yoga beginner. As you start practicing Surya Namaskars on a daily basis, you should aim to focus on your posture at every step. Do not be in a rush to do more rounds without mastering each step. Make tomorrow the first day of your new dedication to doing them each and every morning!