On December 11, 2014, the UN proclaimed June 21 as International Day of Yoga by passing a resolution during the 69th session of the General Assembly. Since then, every year, the Yogis around the world have been celebrating and using this day to promote and preach the innumerable benefits of Yoga. We know that it all comes from these ancient scriptures that the sages wrote establishing the forms and practices of yoga, but what is it really that makes Yoga so relevant to date? Why hasn’t its purpose and importance gotten lost in the contemporary era? What makes Yoga so good for our body? Now that’s exactly what we are going to shed some light on across the length of this feature.
A so-called modern life is nothing but efforts of mammoth proportions to ensure that its survival is enriched with comfort, style, and fulfillment. But along with these come a bunch of stress generators, lifestyle diseases, and infamous mental health issues. We live each day battling these issues and searching for solutions that can put a permanent stop to them. Well, Yoga is that solution. How? Read on to find out.
Yoga develops all-rounded fitness
Yoga as an exercise practice is a combination of body postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. This means that it works on the body and on the mind. It is a pathway to an overall healthy lifestyle resulting from an emphasis on a nutritious diet, a disciplined routine, and the restoration of body vitals. It also helps in strengthening emotional balance, thus stabilizing and improving day-to-day decision-making.
Yoga imparts the necessary strength and flexibility to the body
Ask any corporate office goer and they would complain of stiffness in their back and neck. Poor postures and a sedentary lifestyle are the root causes of such issues. Yoga combats these issues just right. The various asanas induce flexibility and strength and increase joint mobility. This in turn also accounts for the good health of muscles, tissues, and ligaments in the body. These efforts need to be accompanied by healthy eating and proper breathing that most Yogis would encourage you to do. This way you are able to ensure the health of your internal organs like the stomach and lungs also. Since these are the processing units for what a human body takes in, if well taken care of, can result in the betterment of overall functioning as well.
Yoga gives mind its well-deserved calmness
Your mind is subjected to endlessly wavering thoughts round the clock. Therefore it begins to lack focus and skills due to too much happening. Yoga comes with the ability to calm the mind and restore its vital functioning by the way of the techniques of Pranayama and meditation. Pranayama involves taking deep breaths that nourish the mind while meditation helps in focusing on these deep breaths thereby enhancing inner peace. Moreover, meditation sharpens and improves concentration by persuading the mind to bring and maintain its attention to breathing, a mantra, or a particular visual for a certain period of time. As you begin to meditate and make it a part of your daily routine, you will find yourself performing your tasks more mindfully.
Yoga can help you lose weight and boost your performance
As you slide into practicing Yoga regularly, you tend to become more sensitive and serious towards your body and its needs. Eventually, you inherently begin to keep a tab on your weight and food intake. Thereby becoming even more sensitive to hunger cues and feelings of fullness. This is called mindful eating that rests on a more positive relationship with food and eating. Yoga is not only known for its ability to soothe tension and anxiety in the mind and body but also for shooting up a person's exercise capacity. Practicing the asanas can add to greater muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardio-respiratory fitness.
Now that we have deconstructed the goodness of Yoga, let’s talk about the ultimate asana that constructs all of this goodness into one - Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation. It is a complete exercise in itself, when accompanied by breathing exercises and meditation can make an excellent full-body workout. Stay with us as we answer some of the most popular questions about Surya Namaskar.
What is Surya Namaskar and what are its benefits?
Suryanamaskar is a sequential combination of yogic postures performed dynamically in synchrony with the breath. It revitalizes each and every cell of the body, gives physical strength, flexibility, and mental calmness. These postures (asanas) encompass periodic forward and backward bending along with deep exhalation and inhalation respectively to the maximum possible extent. By these movements, the whole musculoskeletal system is stretched and contracted in a systematic manner which provides more strength and flexibility to them. Its training improves the flexibility of body muscles especially leg, back, chest, and buttock muscles. There are many other benefits of Surya Namaskar as it is ideally done facing the early morning sun, helps your body to soak in its benefits - sun rays are a rich source of vitamin D and helps to strengthen your bones and also helps to clear your vision.
What are the steps to perform Surya Namaskar?
Pranam Asana (The Prayer pose)
Start by standing straight on the edge of your mat with your shoulders broadened and hands by your side. Inhale in while lifting both your hands upwards and exhale as you bring them together to a namaskar mudra. Remember to keep your back straight in order to avoid pressurizing your lower back.
Benefit: Relaxes the nervous system and helps in maintaining body balance.
Hastha Utanasana (Raised arm pose)
Inhale elongate your body by raising your hands up and then bending yourself backward. For a proper stretch, push your heels down on the floor as you reach out for the ceiling with your hands.
Benefit: Stretches and tones the abdominal muscles. It also aids digestion.
Padahastasana (Standing forward bend)
Exhale and bend down from your waist, making sure that your back is straight. If you are getting started, try to extend your hands towards the floor as much as possible. But remember that the goal is not to touch the floor with your palms, it is to keep your back straight no matter how low you bend.
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings and opens up the legs.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)
Inhale as you push your left leg back as far as you can keeping your right leg between both your palms on the floor. Touch your left knee to the ground and focus on pushing your pelvic region towards the floor keeping your back straight while looking up. Keep your focus intact on breathing.
Benefit: Strengthens the spine and improves lung capacity.
Santholanasana (Plank Pose)
Exhale and extend your right leg back while making sure both the legs are hip-width apart. Place your arms perpendicular to the floor and use them to balance your body weight. Take deep breaths. Remember to align your body in a straight line resembling a stick.
Benefits: Keeps the mind calm while stretching the arms, chest, shoulder, and spine. Enhance the overall posture of the body.
Ashtanga Namaskar Asana (Eight limbed salutation)
Exhale and gently bring your knees, chest, and forehead on the floor while pushing your hips upwards. Tuck your toes and remain in this posture for some time while taking deep breaths.
Benefits: Increases flexibility and stretches the back and the spine.
Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
Inhale as you raise your chest up and slide forward. Make sure to keep your hands firmly on the floor and your elbows close to your chest. To avoid hurting your lower back, make sure you look upwards, push your chest outwards and your pelvis towards the floor.
Benefits: Improves flexibility and mood.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward dog pose)
Exhale and lift your waist and hips up, keeping your hands and legs firmly on the floor. This might be difficult but keep at it. Your body should form a triangle. Remember to keep your back straight and bend your knees a little if you feel a painful stretch on your hamstrings.
Benefits: Calms the nerves and increases blood circulation.
Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)
Inhale and return to the Equestrian Pose, but this time with your right leg. To do so, bend down from the previous posture, and bring your left leg in between your palms while keeping your right knee on the floor. Tuck your toes in and make sure to keep your left leg perpendicular to the floor.
Padahastasana (Standing forward bend)
Exhale and bring your right leg back to the front and try to keep both your legs straight while keeping your back bent. This asana is one of the very few that helps to strengthen your hamstrings (back of your legs).
Inhale and return to Pose 2, making sure you stretch your entire body – from your toes to the tip of your fingers. While stretching, make sure to keep your biceps close to your ears, and your shoulders rounded.
Bring your hands together in this pose to end the first part of the round.
Repeat the 12 steps to the other side and start with the right leg to complete one full cycle
How many Surya Namaskar should you be doing in a day?
If you are a beginner, you can start with 6 rounds and gradually increase to 15 and then 25.
Is Surya namaskar enough exercise?
Yes, Surya Namaskar yoga is believed to activate each and every part of the body making it a powerful yoga pose for the heart, intestine, stomach, liver, throat, chest, legs, and the muscles of our body.
Who cannot do Surya namaskar?
Patients with high blood pressure should refrain from this practice. People suffering from back conditions should seek proper advice before starting to perform Surya Namaskar.
Can you do Surya namaskar every day?
Yes! One complete round of Surya Namaskar takes approximately 3.5 to 4 minutes. So you can spare 1 hour 6 days a week.
Can you lose weight by doing Surya namaskar?
Yes, regular practice of these asanas can also help you lose excess body fat and tone your lower body.
How many calories do you burn in one round of Surya namaskar?
Performing around 12 rounds of Surya Namaskar can burn approximately 150 - 170 calories.
If you look around yourself or scroll through your Instagram account, you are bound to come across at least one Yoga enthusiast every day. The ones who have realized the magnitude of the goodness of Yoga never are highly unlikely to stop practicing it. And if you don’t believe us saying it, we’ve got Mr. Rohit Dulal, an entrepreneur and Yoga trainer based out of Pune to talk about the significance of Yoga in modern life. Though we have been working with Rohit time and again and very recently published a series of correctional Yoga videos, what intrigued us about him was his routine. It is an amazing balance of running a young tech start-up, taking online Yoga classes, and living an extremely satisfying life. It is most definite that this conversation will lead you to start thinking about taking up Yoga on a regular basis, if not anything else.
Rohit Dulal is the student and son of yoga guru - Mr. Vinod Dulal. As a child, Rohit grew up in his fathers Yoga Institute with a marvelous yoga training experience of 20 years and over 5 years of experience in teaching students. He believes along with exercise, yoga in its true form is a means to guide an individual to find their “self”. He has been keen on teaching all his students from all over the world! His vision is to reach across the world through tech-based yoga offerings, to enable communities to reach their utmost potential.
Trained as an engineer in the US, Rohit lived and worked there for over a decade. Now he has returned to take Vinod Dulal yoga to new heights.
Bhavanani, A. B., Udupa, K., Madanmohan, & Ravindra, P. (2011). A comparative study of slow and fast suryanamaskar on physiological function. International journal of yoga, 4(2), 71–76. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-6131.85489
Kapuria, Mehta, Sorani, Rathod, N. K. K. M. D. S. S. R. (2019). Measuring Immediate Effects of Surya Namaskar on Trunk and Hip Flexibility among Young College Going Students. International Journal of Health Sciences and Research, 9(10), 1–6. https://www.ijhsr.org/IJHSR_Vol.9_Issue.10_Oct2019/11.pdf