8 Benefits of Sun Salutations

by | Apr 5, 2024 | yoga | 0 comments

If you have ever been to any dynamic Yoga class, you will most likely have encountered Sun Salutations. As part of Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga, the Surya Namaskar has a long tradition of being woven into asana practices.

In this post, we have collected the 8 main benefits of Sun Salutations so that next time you do them, you know why!

1. Warms Up Your Whole Body

Have you noticed how the different movements in the Sun Salutations address every major muscle in the body? In fact, they have been designed for this purpose. Go through three rounds, and you will be gently warmed up. Go through ten rounds, and you will have probably built up a sweat. Whatever number you choose, Sun Salutations will get you ready for your practice and your day.

2. Maintains Spine Health

Adding to the aspect of warming up the muscles, the movements in and between the postures contain three of the fundamental motions of the spine: Axial Extension (Urdhva Hastasana), Flexion (Uttanasana), Extension (Bhujangasana / Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). 

Moving through them in a fluid way helps maintain a healthy range of motion of the spine and releases small blockages in the muscles attached to it.

3. Trains your Cardiovascular System 

Sun Salutations can be considered a low-impact cardio workout, which makes them great for promoting cardiovascular health. The sequence gently increases the heart rate and stimulates blood circulation, bringing oxygen to the cells and removing toxins.

4. Balances your Nervous System

When moving through a Surya Namaskar, you constantly move between different versions of forward folds and backbends. Those movements are directly linked to your Nervous System. Forward folding generally stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is responsible for relaxation, while backbends activate the Sympathetic Nervous System, which is in charge of activation.

By moving through a few sets of Sun Salutations, you activate both and balance them out, feeling energized and calm.

5. Tones Muscles and Improves Flexibility

The sequence is made in such a way that it equally strengthens and stretches your body. By moving slowly through the transitions and holding the static postures for a few breaths, you are getting your body into the mode of isotonic and isometric contractions, which build strength while maintaining muscle length.

6. Teaches you the Integration of Breath and Movement 

Sun Salutations are practiced in a one-breath-one-movement pattern. What might seem like a challenge initially will soon be your new skill of connecting your body and your breath. This integration of breath and movement trains you to breathe more slowly and smoothly, whether your body is moving or steady. This is a skill that will be useful not only in your yoga practice but also in day-to-day life.

7. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Our nervous system is constantly working to keep us in a homeostatic state of calm and safety. However, nowadays, situations in our daily lives are often hectic and perceived as a “danger,” which in turn leads to the activation of the stress response in the body and an overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to hyper-arousal and anxiety.

Practicing Sun Salutations regularly is a great way to mobilize this overflow of energy in the body and release it through the different motions of our spine. 

Additionally, the deep breathing applied during Surya Namaskar helps activate the vagus nerve, which in turn down-regulates the overstimulated nervous system and returns it to calm and relaxation.

8. Helps you to build a Yoga routine

Sun Salutations shine through their simplicity and repetition. Those two aspects make them a great tool to build a solid movement routine for yourself that is easy to remember and holds a low threshold to do them.

Building a disciplined routine of Sun Salutations can be a stepping stone to better overall health and a more thorough Yoga practice.

And what comes next?

As you can see, developing a regular practice of Sun Salutations will help you become a healthier, more balanced person.

If you’d like to take it a few steps further, you might consider going through a full Teacher Training on the systems of Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga. You will learn to weave in and vary Sun Salutations into a much bigger picture!

And if you are looking for a more modern approach to a YTT on Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga, check out this 200-hour teacher training in sunny Greece here!

Join: Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh