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Yoga Insights: Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations), Part 1

By Paul Jerard

Surya Namaskar is now accepted as part of Hatha Yoga, but it was not always this way. Historically, traditional Hatha Yoga styles did not contain any of the Sun Salutation sequences, seen today, as an every day component of a daily Yoga practice.

The reason for the integration of Sun Salutations into the contemporary Hatha Yoga class is that the Sun Salutations have multiple mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. Hatha Yoga is an evolution in progress, and as such, embraced the many healthful benefits of what we know as the Sun Salutations.

Let's cover the many benefits of the Sun Salutations and you can see why so many different sequences have evolved over time. Some of today's popular Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, and Ashtanga Yoga sequences are an expansion of Surya Namaskar. First of all, we will look at the physical benefits of Sun Salutations.

Physical Benefits of Surya Namaskar

Much like other forms of exercise, the blood is oxygenated by the practice of Sun Salutations. This one fact is great news for your heart and the cardio-vascular system. As a result, Sun Salutations can be practiced by anyone who is interested in maintaining his or her heart.

It is generally agreed that your heart is the most important muscle in your entire body, so this is, most likely, the most important physical benefit of all. This oxygenation of the blood also occurs when asanas are held for a longer period of time; much like you would see in an Iyengar or Restorative Yoga class.

Regular practice of Sun Salutations will improve and help regulate functions within the Endocrine Glands. Of course most of the studies about Yoga's heath benefits have been performed in India, the birth place of Yoga. It seems that we must spend millions of dollars to research information that doctors in India have documented for generations.

The Endocrine system is very complex and is composed of glands that stimulate responses in one way, or another, through the use of chemicals, transported through the blood stream. These responses can be emotional or regulatory.

The Thyroid, Pituitary, Parathyroid, Adrenal, Testes, Ovaries, and Pancreatic Glands are components of the Endocrine System.

If you perform a chin lock during a standing forward bend, you will increase the blood flow to the Thyroid and Parathyroid. In turn, this would help regulate Thyroid and Parathyroid functions. This is just a small example of the many benefits you will discover from regular practice of Sun Salutations and Yoga.

Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1980. To receive a Free e-Book: "Yoga in Practice," and a Free Yoga Newsletter, please visit:

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