Yoga Fundamentals Part I: What is a Sun Salutation & Why Practice Them?

by | Holistic Health, Yoga, Yoga Poses

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What Is A Sun Salutation:

Sun Salutation (or Surya Namaskar) is an incredible practice for beginners to embrace yoga in an easy and effective way. Having at least a few Sun Salutations in our routine can beneficial for both our physical and mental health. However, what is a Sun Salutation in the first place? How can it be integrated into a yoga routine? Can it be a yoga routine all on its on?

what is a sun salutation

Sun Salutation For Beginners:

The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar, in Sanskrit) is a yoga practice that incorporates a sequence of twelve positions (like the hours on a clock). They’re aim is for whole body involvement, in a very holistic way. Furthermore, Sun Salutation can be performed both as a warm-up (before the start of a prolonged yoga session), and as an exercise in its own right.

The Sun Salutation can be practiced at any age. Both by the novice yogi or experts. Oftentimes, variations of Sun Salutation do not include particularly difficult asanas (positions). In many cases these are accompanied with chanting mantras. These mantras correspond to the asana’s. Thus, adding a deep spiritual element.

Sun Salutations add a revitalizing effect to the whole system (body). Stimulating these systems, while simultaneously calming the mind and spirit.

A Brief History:

As a practice, the Sun Salutation was initially used in Hatha Yoga. However, later became common in all yogic schools, due to its versatility. Although there are no sources that allow us to place its precise origin, we know this practice dates back to the 1st Millennium.

What is it for?

Its purpose is to awaken the body’s receptivity to create an energy source directly from the sun. In the Vedic tradition, the ‘sun’ is a symbol of consciousness. In fact, the Sun has been worshiped for many centuries as a deity in certain cultures.

Related Article: Yoga To Help Increase Your Daily Energy Level: Substitute For Coffee?

In a way it is a to tribute to the sun. A source of life and energy. However, can also be interpreted as a way to wake up our body and “make the mind rise”. Oftentimes, this is why it’s practiced in the morning hours. Thought by many, a time where the air is full of vital energy, turning East, looking at the sun.

Let’s talk breathing (or pranayama). Pranayama plays a very important role in Sun Salutation. In fact, breathing helps control or create tempo/flow for successful execution of poses and transitions. The breath must be regulated according to the movements of the body. In addition, kept natural and deep, accompanying each position.

Benefits of Sun Salutation:

Benefits of Sun Salutation include;

  • Improvements in the circulatory, respiratory, digestive systems;
  • Balancing the psychophysical energy of the body;
  • Improve focus;
  • Tones and strengthens the body;
  • Strengthens the immune system;
  • Increases flexibility;
  • Promotes the elimination of toxins.

Embracing and practicing Sun Salutation requires no special equipment. Truly, one of the great perks of practicing Sun Salutation for beginners.

The exercise should be practiced calmly, following the movements of the body in the most fluid way possible. It is not the speed that determines a good result, but the fluidity with which one moves.

At the beginning, practice each asana separately, in order to perfect the execution. Then, perform the asanas one after the other. Eventually, with a little practice, you will be able to perform the “flow” dynamically and repeatedly.

The aim is to “evolve” each asana into its next form in a fluid motion. In essence, like “a dance”. However, the difference being that there is a slight pause in-between asanas.

There are two main variations of the sun salutation, namely form A and form B. Sun Salutation A is the perfect sun salutation for beginners as it’s easier and it involves some yoga basic postures all beginners know and can master perfectly! 

Final Thoughts!

While there may be a few versions of Sun Salutations, the concept remain consistent. Sun Salutations are much like what yoga is all about, “union”. Where asanas, and breathing work as one to create a truly magical flow.

When performing these salutations, make sure to keep the core engaged. Consequently, this helps keep the spine neutral and avoids collapsing of the back or shoulders. Even with these sequences, there is room for modifications. Be kind to your mind. Be kind to yourself!


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use them to purchase items, then we may earn a small commission. Hope you find something that you like!
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