When you were new to yoga, chances are one of the first things you enthusiastically learnt in class was the Sun Salutation. Remember the great high you got the first time you managed to perform the sequence correctly, without missing a beat? As you forayed deeper into the world of yoga, exploring its rich tapestry of asanas and pranayamas, it’s quite possible that Sun Salutations took a back-seat serving largely as a warm-up for your main yoga practice.
However, the easily discounted Sun Salutation can offer you so much more! Did you know that this wonderful sequence is an incredibly holistic and potent workout? In fact you could even consider making it the focal point of your home practice on certain days. Here are some facts which may shift your perspective and put the zing back into your Sun Salutations:
The Sun Salutation is a complete practice for mind, body and spirit. It is a scientifically designed yogic sequence containing asana, pranayama and meditation techniques, thereby working not only on the physical level but also at deeper, subtle levels. In fact, the contemporary sequence we know has its origins in the ancient Vedic period in India when the Sun was worshipped as a powerful symbol of health and immortal life. This connection to the Sun and all that it represents lies at the heart of the Sun Salutation – we can effortlessly harness this energy across all levels of our being if we bear this idea in mind while practicing.
The Sun Salutation comprehensively revitalizes the entire body quickly. The list of physical benefits is endless. To name a few: it keeps the spine supple and flexible, stretches and tones numerous muscles, improves circulation, respiration and elimination functions, tones the nerves, clears up the skin, makes the body leaner and keeps us looking and feeling younger! Being a complete workout, it is a great solution for hectic days when a full yoga routine is a challenge -- six rounds of Sun Salutations can be your ten minute maintenance fix on such days.
The Sun Salutation plays the role of a ‘psychotherapist’. Just as a bright sunny day dispels darkness and gloom, performing Sun Salutations mindfully balances emotions, removes negativity and infuses positivity, calmness and hope. In fact the sequence is known to effectively heal distorted mental or emotional energies and is a great de-stressor. Even a few rounds of Sun Salutations done consciously with breath awareness will leave you feeling lighter in your heart and peaceful in your mind.
The Sun Salutation is a catalyst for steady spiritual transformation. Devised with the aim of bringing about spiritual awakening, the twelve individual postures are systematically woven together in a manner to generate prana, subtle energy, which purifies and rejuvenates. Not surprising then that the Sun Salutation becomes a graceful, dynamic meditation when performed mindfully and with breath awareness. Moreover, its efficacy is substantially magnified with the addition of chakra visualization and mantra chanting, making it a powerful and reliable tool for spiritual growth.
The Sun Salutation is responsive to varying needs and moods. Whereas a fast-paced morning workout may provide the much needed energy boost to kick-start the day, a slower rhythm could fulfill the need for restoration in the evening. Also, similar to a good friendship that evolves over time, your Sun Salutation practice can mature with you – for instance, you could build in more challenging variations to some of the individual postures as your body gains strength and flexibility. This will ensure that your relationship with this beautiful sequence remains vibrant and deeply satisfying over the years.