If you haven’t come across them yet in your yoga practise, or you’re a complete beginner to yoga, it’s worth getting familiar with the sun salutation positions. Not only can the various poses associated with the series bring you a host of health benefits for your body, but they can also help to energise the mind too and bring fresh energy to your day.
There are many reasons to commit to a sun salutations for beginners practice every day, and in this guide we’re going to bring your attention to some of the most compelling benefits associated with it. Like with any string of yoga poses, sun salutation will help you stretch out your muscles and develop upper and lower body strength, but also boost your energy and bring your attention to your breath.
With sun salutation yoga, most people start with anywhere between four and six rounds, but when you get more experienced you can do as many as twelve in a single session to extract as much out of the poses as possible.
Without further ado, let’s explore the sun salutation benefits so you can stick to the practice for a long time.
As you might expect from any physical activity, yoga can provide a boost to your energy level. This is especially true of the sun salutation poses, since they are designed to breathe life into your body and work with the energy of the sun.
Even if you don’t buy the spiritual connections of the sun salutation practice with the sun, going through the poses will undoubtedly get your heart rate up and the blood flowing through your body.
Doing sun salutations yoga first thing in the morning is an excellent way to kickstart your day as a result. If you don’t believe us, try any of the poses right now and see how you feel afterwards. The best poses for an instant burst of energy are the standing back bend ( the second pose in the series) and downward dog (the eighth pose).
If you’re wondering how to do sun salutation yoga for an energy boost, do your best to squeeze and activate your muscles completely during each pose and move through the series swiftly.
Strengthens and Tones Muscles
A common misconception surrounding yoga is that everything is done at a slow pace, and all it involves is holding a stretch for a few seconds before moving on. Hardly anyone brings up yoga in the conversation of what physical activity to do if you want to build and tone muscle.
However, those who do yoga regularly will know that the truth of the matter is that it’s actually a very challenging form of physical activity.
From the outside yoga can look simple, there’s a distinct lack of the reps and sets that we commonly associate with weight training and muscle growth. Yet holding poses such as downward dog and upward dog demand a lot from your shoulders, abdominal muscles, and more.
So not only does yoga effectively target different muscle groups, but it does so in a different way than working out. As a result, even if you lift weights or build muscle another way, supplementing these workouts with yoga can enhance your gains and tone the muscles.
While we’re not going to lie and tell you that you will build a bodybuilder’s physique by committing to a daily sun salutation yoga practice, you can develop the strength of your legs, arms, and core with it.
The most common physical benefit associated with yoga is improved flexibility, and with good reason. If you want a supple body that you can move around how nature intended without any of the rigidity and stiffness that comes with hours being stuck in the same sitting position then yoga is a great way to go about it.
Each time you do a yoga pose, you will be able to work deeper into the muscles and stretch them out further. Take the second pose in the sun salutation series as an example, the hands raised or back bend pose.
The first time you perform this pose, your hands will go over your head and you may be able to look up at the ceiling. Perhaps you’ll even be able to bend deeply and reach backwards with your arms, but there’ll come a point at which you can’t reach any more.
Each time you reach this sticking point in a yoga practice, you can breathe into it and relax the muscles as much as possible to improve your flexibility and reach a little further the next time.
The great thing about sun salutation yoga is that there are poses for improving flexibility in the arms and the legs, as well as stretches to release tight core muscles and hips.
Promotes Weight Loss
Just like it’s easy to dismiss the potential for building muscle with yoga, it’s also easy to dismiss its suitability as part of a weight loss program. When you see someone doing yoga, it doesn’t necessarily seem like they are shedding pounds.
In fact, most of the time the people are breathing deeply and look perfectly relaxed as they move through the poses, so how on earth can yoga help with your weight loss goals?
Well, yoga and the sun salutation series in particular, can help you to boost your digestion and up your metabolism. This means that while you might not necessarily shed a lot of pounds from heavy cardio, you will speed up the rate at which your body expels waste and consumes food.
Plus, you can modify the sun salutation series to suit your fitness goals. So if your primary goal is to lose weight, you can move through the poses more quickly or hold them for longer to sweat for a few seconds more. This should turn it into more of a cardio workout. You can also do more rounds of sun salutations; while some people stick to just a couple, others do as many as twelve rounds in a single session.
Calms The Mind
While this benefit may sound a little out there, bear with us.
One of the best things about committing to a daily yoga practice is the benefits it can provide for your mental wellbeing. Much like meditation, yoga is focussed on mindfulness and can be seen as a more dynamic form of meditation in some ways.
The reason why it can calm the mind doesn’t have anything to do with the zen-like quality of any of the poses, but is based in the scientific evidence for the positive effect of focusing on the breath.
Put simply: taking the time to focus on your breath and cover each one with your full attention and awareness can do a world of good for your current state. If you approach your sun salutations yoga as if it were a dynamic form of meditation, then you can extend the benefits to include not just the body but the mind as well. This is another reason why you should try to incorporate sun salutations yoga into your morning routine since it can sharpen your focus and get you in the right headspace for whatever the day brings.
Get in Touch With your Spiritual Side
The beauty of yoga is that it can be whatever you want it to be.
Maybe you just want to improve your flexibility and stretch out your stiff muscles before you have to sit down all day. Or maybe you’re interested in using it as tool to access a state of mindfulness and improve your mental clarity. But you can also use yoga as a gateway to a more spiritual side of yourself.
Sun salutation yoga can be a quick morning stretch routine to wake you up, or it can be a practice in which you take the time to align with the sun’s energy. Sun salutations is also known as ‘Surya Namaskar’, which translates roughly to ‘I bow my head to that which illuminates the world’.
As such, you can choose to see your sun salutations yoga practice as an opportunity to connect to nature and the world around you, with a specific focus on the energy and illumination that the sun provides each day. It can be an opportunity to express physically your gratitude for that warming sensation that can breathe life into your body.
If you’re curious to explore the spiritual element of sun salutation yoga, perhaps it would be a good idea to commit to doing the practice as the sun first begins to rise in the sky. While for some this will seem like an impossible task, you might be surprised at how powerful this can feel. This is even more true if you make the extra effort to do the yoga poses outside where you can see the sun, either in your garden if you have one, or even better the beach.