Surya Namaskar is a form of whole-body Yoga practice which has numerous health benefits for people of each & every age group. With the roots in ancient India, it has now incorporated into the daily lives of millions of people worldwide. The Health Benefits of Surya Namaskar Yoga is already approved by the researches done on its various aspects. Even the American College of Sports Medicine recommends Surya namaskar as an effective physical activity.
(To bask in the divine grace of the Sun God, this Mantra can be chanted. It is known to eradicate diseases from its roots and help develop the physical and mental endurance required to overcome life’s obstacles.)
Sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) is a comprehensive Yoga technique that incorporates physical activity, breath regulation, relaxation, and awareness. Apart from improving physical stamina and endurance, Surya Namaskar has been shown to influence an individual’s perception and performance.
In this article, we will understand all the good things about Surya namaskar backed by modern science.
The Major Health Benefits of Surya Namaskar Yoga can be enlisted as:
- Increased Flexibility.
- Remove obesity.
- Improve Vision.
- Relief in blood pressure Abnormality.
- Increase blood circulation.
- Strengthen bones & spine.
- Helpful in controlling anger.
- Prevent hair loss and dandruff.
- Lowered chances of skin disease.
- Increases efficiency of heart and lungs.
- Flexible vertebrae and waist.
- Improve digestion & metabolism.
Different Asana/Poses of Surya Namaskar and their benefits in Hath-Yoga :
The Surya Namaskar Yoga has a total of 7 different unique Asana or poses to be performed in a predefined sequence for maximum benefits. Let’s try to understand all the health benefits of these Yoga postures of Surya Namaskar as per Ayurveda & yogic science.
1. Benefits of Pranamasana / Prayer pose:
Pranamasana or the Prayer pose is the 1st and 12th Posture of Surya Namaskar Yoga.
The benefits of Pranamasana are:
- Regulates Blood pressure
- Increases concentration
- Helps in attaining inner peace
2. Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana / Raised arms pose:
Hasta Uttanasana or the Raised arms pose is the 2nd and 11th Posture of Surya Namaskar Yoga.
The benefits of Hasta Uttanasana are:
- Removes extra belly-fat
- Improves digestion & metabolism
- Strong lungs
- A good exercise for arm & shoulder muscles
3. Benefits of Padahastasana / Hand to Foot pose:
Padahastasana or the Hand to Foot pose is the 3rd and 10th Posture of Surya Namaskar Yoga.
The benefits of Hasta Padahastasana are:
- Reduces obesity
- Protects pancreas & stomach
- Improves flexibility of the spine
- Clears constipation
- Increases blood circulation
4. Benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana / The Equestrian Pose:
Ashwa Sanchalanasana or The Equestrian Pose is the 4th and 9th Posture of Surya Namaskar Yoga.
The benefits of Ashwa Sanchalanasana are:
- Strong quad & hamstrings muscles
- Beneficial for lower back & neck
- Improves blood flow in the digestive tract
- Strengthens the spinal cord
5. Benefits of Parvatasana / The Mountain Pose :
Parvatasana or The Mountain Pose is the 5th and 8th Posture of Surya Namaskar Yoga.
The benefits of Parvatasana are:
- Increased blood circulation
- Boosts the charisma
- Improves eyesight
- It prevents hair fall & dandruff
- Good exercise of calves & triceps muscles
- Improve flexibility & vascular strength
6. Benefits of Ashtanga Namaskar / Eight-Limbed salutation:
Ashtanga Namaskar or Eight-Limbed salutation Pose is the 6th Posture of Surya Namaskar Yoga.
The benefits of Ashtanga Namaskar are:
- Improves respiratory health
- Strengthens arms, shoulders & upper back
- Enhances joint mobility
- Strong lungs
7. Benefits of Bhujangasana / The Cobra Pose:
Bhujangasana or The Cobra Pose is the 7th Posture of Surya Namaskar Yoga.
The benefits of Bhujangasana are:
- Activates the enzymes in the digestive tract
- Removes constipation
- Strengthens the lower back
- Good for gluteus Maximus muscle
- Very Beneficial in slip disc & cervical spondylitis
Immediate benefits of Surya namaskar
Surya namaskar increases the flexibility of the body Immediately. Scientific research done by Kristine M. Fondran suggests that the inclusion of Surya Namaskar in an exercise program may help to prevent orthopedic disorders associated with limited hamstring and low back flexibility. Another researcher, Dr. Sethu S., assessed Surya Namaskar’s effect on Joint Flexibility and concluded that Surya Namaskar is the best practice to improve flexibility at the joints.
A research article published in the International Journal of Health Sciences and Research in 2019 says Surya Namaskar shows the immediate effect on improving flexibility of the muscles. The practice of Surya Namaskar done with a 10-sec hold of each pose significantly increases the lumbar flexion & Popliteal angle for individual hamstring flexibility.
Thus, Surya Namaskar can be recommended to improve the flexibility component of physical fitness.
The benefit of Surya namaskar for the Respiratory system
A study was done on the cardio-respiratory and metabolic responses to practicing four rounds of Surya namaskar. It shows that the average intensity during the four rounds was 80% Heart Rate maximum, sufficient to elicit a cardio-respiratory training effect.
Another paper published in WORLD JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICAL AND MEDICAL RESEARCH tells us that :
Practicing Surya Namaskar can improve pulmonary function parameters such as forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume (in the 1st second), and peak expiratory flow rate. Besides respiratory pressure parameters, maximum inspiratory pressure and maximum expiratory pressure (used to access respiratory muscle weakness) are enhanced with the daily practice of Surya namaskar.
Physiological effects & benefits of Surya Namaskar
A Research paper was published in 2011 on the differential physiological effects of 6 months of training in the fast and slow versions of Surya Namaskar. This study shows improved pulmonary function, handgrip strength and endurance, and resting cardiovascular parameters by regular practice of Sun Salutation.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar for Children
A study Report submitted in 2011 has illustrated sun salutation’s influence on children from 8-14 years of age. This report states that :
The Systolic blood pressure, Peak Expiratory Flow Rate, and Forced Vital Capacity increased significantly. At the same time, Respiratory Rate, Heart Rate, and Diastolic Blood Pressure decreased considerably after the practice of Surya namaskar.
Reference Paper: Sasi KA, Sivapriya DV, Shyamala T (2011) Effects of Surya namaskar on cardiovascular and respiratory parameters in school students. Rec ResScience Technol 3: 19-24.
As per another Research study, Improving academic performance in schoolchildren has been identified as a significant application of Surya namaskar. The earlier reports on physical exercise have shown its beneficial effects on improving the executive functions in children.
Difference between benefits of Fast, Medium & Slow versions of Surya Namaskar
Surya namaskar can be done in three pace variations: Fast, Medium & slow. The effects of the fast version are similar to physical aerobic exercises. In contrast, the impact of the slow version is identical to those of yoga training.
- The slow pace helps increase body flexibility,
- The medium-speed practice helps in muscle toning,
- The fast pace is an excellent cardiovascular workout and helps in weight loss.
Cardio Exercises Vs. Surya Namaskar
Sun Salutation is a better holistic approach towards cardiovascular & physiological exercises. A study shows that Surya Namaskar can be used as an ideal aerobic exercise as it involves both static stretching and slow dynamic component of training with optimal stress on the cardio-respiratory system.
In agreement with all the points made above, it is evident that Surya Namaskar Yoga is one hell of an exercise that not only helps you to remain physically fit but is also a boon for mental health. In today’s world of chaos & noise, this Yoga is nothing less than a miracle for human lives. Incorporating Surya Namaskar in our daily routines is bound to give us a long list of health benefits & protect us from a lot of cardiovascular & respiratory anomalies.
So, Let’s make a pact to take out at least 30 minutes from our daily routines either during sunrise or sunset to perform this extraordinary form of yogic exercise for holistic well-being.
Relevant citations, Scientific evidence & research papers :
- A comparative study of slow and fast suryanamaskar on physiological function – Bhavanani, Ananda Balayogi et al. International journal of yoga vol. 4,2 (2011): 71-6. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85489
- Surya Namaskara Benefits for Physical Health – I Gusti Bagus Wirawan, International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol. 5 No. 2, March 2018, pages: 43~55 e-ISSN: 2550-7001, p-ISSN: 2550-701X http://dx.doi.org/10.29332/ijssh.v2n1.78
- Health Benefits Of Surya Namaskara – Dr. Ishwar Malik, International Journal of Health, Physical Education and Computer Science in Sports Volume No.27, No.1pp101-104
- Kinematics of Suryanamaskar Using Three-Dimensional Motion Capture – Mullerpatan, Rajani P et al. International journal of yoga vol. 12,2 (2019): 124-131. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_26_18
- Effect of 11 months of yoga training on cardiorespiratory responses during the actual practice of Surya Namaskar – Sinha, Biswajit, and Tulika Dasgupta Sinha. International journal of yoga vol. 7,1 (2014): 72-5. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.123493
- Effect of dynamic suryanamaskar on vital capicity of sedentary college students – Dinesh Kaithwas and Dr. Vivek B Sathe, International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education 2019; 4(1): 1396-1398
- Physiological Study of Surya Namaskar- A Yogic Practice – Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine; Aliso Viejo Vol. 17, Iss. 3, (May/Jun 2011): 62-3.