Surya Namaskar, or sun salutation, is a series of 12 postures that are linked together with the breath. Sun salutations are traditionally practiced in the morning, as the sun rises, in order to greet the new day and establish balance within the doshas. Sun salutations stimulate the metabolism and the digestive, respiratory, circulatory and reproductive body systems. Pairing each movement with the breath encourages deep and rhythmic breathing, increasing blood to the brain nd bringing mental clarity.
How the Sun Salutation Works
The sun salutation activates the body’s breathing and digestive fulcrum. The key to breathing, according to Ayurveda, is to use all 5 lobes of the lungs and, most importantly, to access the lower lobes – to both calm and repair the nervous system and remove toxic waste out of the body.
As the body moves into extension, or a back bend, the breath is inhaled deeply through the nose; this provides a deep stretch with the diaphragm pulling the rib cage, heart and lungs down, while the extension of the spine stretches them up. The abdomen, stomach and liver are pulled down in this process, creating more space under the diaphragm for optimal digestion and freedom for deep breathing.
Benefits of Sun Salutation:
Daily and consist practice of Surya Namaskar can support healthy breathing for stress, weight control, sleep, heart, lungs, and structural strength for the back and neck. Here are some of the many benefits of this simple exercise:
• Stress Management – Stress causes everyone to take more shallow quick breaths through the mouth; this type of shallow breathing fills the upper lobes of the lungs activate fight-or-flight receptors. Practicing daily Sun Salutations promotes breathing through the nose, which will drive the air deeply into the lower lobes of the lungs where there is a predominance of calming and repair nerve receptors.
• Promote Elasticity – The rib cage can become rigid and the diaphragm tight as a result of years of being under stress and being inactive. This forces most people to breathe primarily into the upper lobes of the lungs which in turn compromises our diaphragm’s capability to expand and contract fully. The sun salutation repeatedly breaks up rib cage and diaphragmatic inelasticity promoting circulation.
• Improved Digestion: Through continuous compression and stretching of the body, the tissues between the stomach and diaphragm are fed with an increased blood supply; this stimulates better peristalsis (movements within the digestive tract) function, making it easier to absorb nutrition and pass the waste.