Be it body flexibility, strength, endurance or healthy blood circulation, Surya Namaskar is one of the best set of yoga asanas for overall health and well-being. Scientific studies claim Surya Namaskar helps give that extra boost of energy required at the start of the day. It is also touted as the “complete health capsule for women throughout all stages of life”. While many of us ensure to add Surya Namaskar or sun salutation in our daily fitness regimes, it is important to understand how to do it well.
Health Shots got in touch with certified Ashtanga, Yin and Face Yoga teacher Prerna Sinha, who guides on the right practices to follow before and after Surya Namaskar.
How does Surya Namaskar help our body?
Considered to be a full body workout, Surya Namaskar has a lot of advantages. But first let us know a little history about it. Surya Namaskar is a set of dynamic postures propagated by the King of Aundh, Late Shrimant Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi in the 1920s and later by Sri K V Iyer, and Sri Krishnamacharya. “It is a complete exercise that boosts flexibility, strength, and endurance of the entire body. It improves blood circulation, which is great for heart health and overall vitality. The controlled breathing reduces stress and calms the mind,” shares Sinha.
What to remember before doing Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar is a combination of 12 asanas. So, your body needs to be absolutely ready for it. “Start with a prayer, some grounding exercises to set the intention and warm ups to open the body. Throughout the practice, try to stay present, focusing on my breath and the maintain the connection between my mind and body,” says Sinha.
While many teachers ask their students to start their practice with a Surya Namaskar directly, Sinha recommends following a warm-up routine to open up the body and avoid any injuries. “Neck rotations to release any tension, shoulder rolls, cat and cow pose for easing the spine, hip circles to warm up joints, hamstring stretches and, wrist and ankle rotations, are helpful warm up exercises that must be done before attempting Surya Namaskar. Opening the body is essential and beneficial before starting a Surya Namaskar routine,” she says.
To know the 12 steps of Surya Namaskar, click here!
Can Surya Namaskar only be done in the morning?
If you are not a morning person, and still wish to practice Surya Namaskar, you are in luck! “Traditionally Surya Namaskar is done in the morning, where you are facing and soaking the sun. But it can be done in the afternoon or early evening. The only requirement is to have an empty stomach for an effective session. Give a gap of min 1.5–2 hours after a meal,” explains Sinha.
What are the precautions I must take while doing Surya Namaskar?
When it comes to Surya Namaskar, precautions are crucial. “Always consult a healthcare professional before starting, especially if there are any health concerns,” warns Sinha. Listing out the various things to be mindful of, she says:
1. Warm up
Warming up before Surya Namaskar is essential. This helps to to avoid injuries as your body is ready for the work it has to do ahead. This also increases blood circulation in the body.
2. Modify postures
Surya Namaskar can be challenging for many. However, remember that if you can’t do some of actions properly, you can lower the level to suit yourself. For example, people with knee issues can avoid bending in Ashwasanchalan asana and keep their legs straight.
3. Don’t overdo it
It is important to understand not to overstretch yourself and this can lead to injuries. In order to sustain in Surya Namaskar, it is imperative to be aware of your limitations and gradually increase the difficulty level.
4. Pay attention to your breath
Awareness in a pose is the key to obtaining that mind, body and breath balance. Therefore it is very important to be aware of how your are breathing and regulate accordingly.
What are the key things to do after Surya Namaskar?
After a session of Surya Namaskar, there are a few key steps that one must take to cool down and relax one’s body. “It is very important to get into a resting pose, such as Child’s Pose, to cool down. End with Savasana. Never leave the mat without resting and bringing your breath back to normal,” says Sinha.
Additionally, it helps to do a mental scan of the body to observe if there is any pull, pain. “Send oxygen, to that part of your body, mindfully and observe it relax. Hydrate well to replenish fluids lost during the practice. Sometimes, I include a short meditation or relaxation to conclude the session,” she says.
Can everyone do Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar is inclusive and adaptable to different fitness levels. “Pregnant women or individuals with health concerns, should consult a healthcare professional, she says, adding, “It’s important to listen to one’s body and make adjustments as needed to ensure a comfortable and beneficial practice.”