Sun Salutation is a holistic exercise and has a host of health benefits. These have been well studied and documented. It balances the systems like respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrinal and musculoskeletal system to function better (Also read physiological benefits of Sun Salutation).
However most of us don’t seem to do it the right way. There are 2 aspects of Sun Salutation that in my experience people tend to get wrong.
The first is doing it in a dynamic manner without steady holds. The 12 steps in sun salutation (surya namaskar) sequence without steady holds, done in a vigorous manner will not give the intended benefits. Ancient scriptures define asanas (yoga poses) with the words sthira sukham asanam, which defines the state where body and mind are steady and comfortable in a pose. To sum it up, an asana practice aims to keep the internal body healthy and in balance rather than focusing on weight loss, toning, and shaping the exterior physical body and performs asanas with long, comfortable, and steady holds, rather than in a vigorous or dynamic manner.
Sun Salutation ideally should be done with steady holds.
The other part of doing Sun Salutation is the breathing pattern. It is important to inhale and exhale properly ensuring that your inhale and fill your lungs and exhale properly. Without maintaining the proper breath, Sun Salutation can be detrimental as well.
Doing Sun Salutation with steady holds with with proper deep breaths and exhalation is important. One of the things you’ll notice while doing the sun salutation is that you’ll perspire. That is a clear indicator that you are doing it properly (assuming the holds are steady and you are inhaling and exhaling alternatively after each step in the sequence).
I hope you found this useful.