- Weight loss
- Improves flexibility
- Relieves gastrointestinal issues
- Cures insomnia
- Eases menstrual cycle
- Lowers blood sugar level
- Less stress, anxiety, depression
- Increases concentration
Surya Namaskar, the salutations to the sun, is a full-body workout sequence of 12 yoga poses. The practice of sun salutation involves every limb of the body in some way. It brings multifaceted benefits of Surya namaskar that has religious as well as scientific reasons.
Sun is being worshipped as a God since time immemorial which signifies its religious aspect, however, the scientific reasons are equally prominent in describing several benefits of Surya namaskar.
Sun directs energy to the earth in the form of sunlight and heat which sustains life on earth. Also, the central point of the body, the solar plexus aka the second brain is connected to the Sun.
Therefore ancient sages used to practice Surya Namaskar to enhance the solar plexus which increases one’s creativity and intuitive abilities. This forms a bridge between the traditional and scientific benefits of Surya Namaskar.
The Benefits of Surya Namaskar According to Science
The benefits of surya namaskar have been extensively researched.
Below benefits are supported by successfully implemented scientific studies so you can count on them to gain similar health benefits. Let’s look at eight of these benefits in more detail.
1. Helps lose weight
Surya namaskar at a fast pace serves as an effective cardiovascular workout. It includes poses that stretch the abdominal region which is helpful in burning the extra fat layer around the belly. Hence, it is effective in losing weight.
For assessing the effectiveness of Surya namaskar to lose weight, a study was conducted on obese people in 2016.
The study was conducted on 30 obese people divided into two groups, i.e. controlled and experimental of 15 people each. After practicing Surya Namaskar for 30 days, it was found that obese persons have lost 4kg weight.
The experimental group has shown a significant reduction in weight when compared with pre and post-study. It proves the dynamic series of Surya Namaskar is helpful in obesity management.
2. Improves overall flexibility
Along with the spine, the entire body experiences deep stretches while performing Surya Namaskar. It expands and contracts most of the muscles and keeps the body flexible and agile.
To analyze the effect of Surya Namaskar on flexibility, an experimental study was conducted among middle elementary school students. They were given a 6-weeks Surya Namaskar training for 5 days per week.
After 6 weeks, the muscular endurance, relaxation, and joint suppleness are significantly improved in school students.
Another study was conducted to assess the improvement in hip and trunk flexibility via Surya Namaskar among 50 female students.
They were asked to perform 10 slow-paced Surya Namaskar holding each asana for 10 seconds that showed improved flexibility of the hip joint, lower back, and posterior thigh muscles. Also, the muscles are easily contracted due to reduced muscle viscosity.
Hence, practicing Surya Namaskar has immediate effects on improving the flexibility of the muscles.
3. Relieves gastrointestinal issues
Surya Namaskar stimulates the digestive tract due to alternate stretching and contraction of abdominal muscles and organs. It keeps the digestive and gastrointestinal issues at bay.
In one study, it has shown Surya Namaskar along with Yogic Vihara (relaxation via poses, mudras, etc.) and Ahara (diet) improves digestive fire and relieves constipation by soothing the G.I. tract.
Another study on Surya Namaskar and its health benefits showed that successive elongation and compression of digestive organs stimulates the digestive juices. Also, the abdominal muscles are stimulated facilitating peristalsis ultimately easing the defecation process.
Hence, the poses of Surya Namaskar boosts digestion and keeps the gastrointestinal tract healthy.
4. Cures insomnia
Surya Namaskar includes a set of 12 poses along with synchronized breath that calms the mind and ensures sound sleep.
This is supported by a scientific study where type-2 diabetic women were exposed to a 12-weeks yoga program incorporating a 20-minutes long Surya Namaskar.
It is interpreted that after 12 weeks a sleep quality significantly improved in diabetic women following yoga and Surya Namaskar. It was due to the fact that yoga stimulates endorphin secretion that reinforces happiness during the day and improves sleep at night.
5. Regulates and eases the menstrual cycle
Females experiencing irregularity in their menses or pain or discomfort before or during menstruation find Surya namaskar quite relieving.
In a study, adolescent girls were subjected to analyze the effectiveness of Surya Namaskar movement in response to dysmenorrhea pain.
According to it, adequate oxygen intake is required to burn glucose into ATP while performing Surya Namaskar. This also produces endorphin hormone that relieves pain and provides comfort.
Similar study was conducted taking 45 college going girls suffering from premenstrual syndrome. They were divided into three groups: those who practiced Surya Namaskar with walking, those who were involved in Surya Namaskar without walking, and those who didn’t take up any training.
After a period of 8-weeks dedicating one hour per day for this training, the first group experienced relief from their menstrual problems. Thus, it was concluded that regularly practicing exercises like Surya Namaskar gives a permanent solution for girls suffering from PMS.
6. Lowers blood sugar levels
Surya namaskar involves poses that stimulate heart muscles and act as a natural remedy for controlling blood pressure. It regulates the blood sugar level keeping the heart healthy.
A study was conducted among 27 nursing students to investigate the effects of yogic exercises on blood sugar levels. Out of 27, 12 were categorized as an exercise group performing Surya Namaskar, Shavasana, and Yoga Nidra. The other 15 students were categorized under the control group.
After performing yoga sessions for 60 min one day a week for 12 weeks, the exercise group was found to have reduced blood sugar levels as compared to the control group.
Another study was taken into account considering the lipid profile of 30 middle-aged men. They were further divided into two groups as experimental and control groups each having 15 individuals.
For 12-weeks, the experimental group was involved in regular yoga practice (Asanas, Surya namaskar, Kriyas, and Pranayama) while the control group was not. In the end, the experimental group was found to have decreased total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein.
This showed that blood sugar levels are controlled and the heart is healthy in the experimental group that has incorporated sun salutation with other yogic practices.
7. Helps getting rid of anxiety, stress, and depression
The deep breathing involved in Surya namaskar poses draws oxygen to the brain which brings the state of calm. Along with the nervous system, it benefits the endocrine system, especially the thyroid gland which uplifts the mood and fights against anxiety and depression.
A Study on the Effect of Yogic Intervention on Anxiety among Youth is evident to the mind-calming benefit of Surya Namaskar.
The researchers took 30 people (20 males and 10 females) as their subjects to analyze the effect of a set of asanas and Pranayama for 60 days. The practice included 2 rounds of Surya Namaskar taking 180 seconds. Pre and post anxiety levels were measured to reach the conclusion.
In the end, it was observed that anxiety levels among practitioners dropped significantly. It was so because the asanas and controlled breathing stop the mind fluctuations and uncontrolled thoughts. This uplifts the mental state and reduces anxiety levels.
Another similar study was conducted among 20 female school teachers to find out the influence of yogic practice on depression, anxiety, and stress. The subjects were divided into experimental and controlled groups and underwent a 12-weeks yogic training practicing 6 days a week.
After 12-weeks of practicing loosening exercises, Suryanamaskar, specific asanas, pranayama, and meditation regularly, the pre and post measurements of both groups were compared. The experimental group has shown a significant reduction in psychological issues while the stress levels either increased or remain the same for the control group.
8. Increases the focus and concentration power
As already mentioned that the benefits of Surya Namaskar are not limited to physical health as it also relaxes the mind. Therefore, the physical postures along with breath regulation in Surya Namaskar are helpful in increasing awareness levels along with enhancing the concentration power of the brain.
A study on 62 school children was conducted dividing them equally into two groups: those who practiced Surya namaskar and those who practiced other physical exercises.
After 30 days of intervention, the group following Surya Namaskar has shown 16.7% improvement on attention span while the other exercising group improved their attention span to 13.2%.
Hence, it is clear with the study that Surya Namaskar can be exercised to improve the mental ability and concentration power.
Various studies have shown how beneficial Surya Namaskar is for uplifting the overall health. Therefore, performing few rounds of Surya Namaskar before starting your hectic regular routine is a must to experience life with a whole lot more.
So, next time you wake up to start your day think of how much productive you can be by incorporating Surya Namaskar into your daily regimen.