An often asked question among students and practitioners of Yoga is that – Is Sun Salutation like Cardio?
Cardio workouts are gaining popularity nowadays as weight loss and gym are at its zenith in the society. On the bright side, the trend of starving to lose weight has been replaced to an extent by healthy alternatives like going to gym, running, dancing, etc. Trends of making short videos such as reels on social media platforms also helps to make oneself exposed to the idea that such means are healthier ways to exercise and express oneself. Of course, such platforms have a negative impact but one should also consider its unstoppable impact on expressive skills one develops at individual levels. Inspiration may pour in from different places. One such is the practice of yoga. Yoga is as ancient as Vedas and Puranas. In Hindu mythology, one of the trinity supreme gods called Shiva is also known as Adiyogi which means the first one to practice yoga or the first Yogi.
6 Important Facts on Sun Salutation and Cardio
- Surya namaskar (sun salutation) and other asanas, though seems slow and calm, is not easy as it seems.
- The twelve steps of surya namaskar (sun salutation), if practiced in a fast and rapid nature, could provide benefits like cardiovascular exercise.
- A wholesome physical fitness regime is present in the 12 wholesome steps of surya namaskar (sun salutation).
- Every step has its own benefits specific or general to certain parts of the body, organ or the whole body.
- Rapid stretching and bending of leg muscles in steps like 4th, 5th and 8th which are Ashwa Sanchalanasana and Parvatasana and Ashwa Sanchalanasana respectively makes the muscles lean and rejuvenated.
- Surya namaskar (sun salutation) is practiced with a disciplined systematic breathing technique.
Legend has it that it is Shiva who performed the vigorous dance form called Tandav also did perform other asanas in meditative nature. Therefore, Shiva could be considered the epitome of yogic practice in all its multitude of nature. In dance, tandav is considered to be the most vigorous and energy and stamina requiring form. It requires a huge amount of calories if practiced regularly hence, keeping our body in good shape by burning excess fats deposited under the skin.
Practicing surya namaskar (sun salutation) and other asanas, though seems slow and calm, is not easy as it seems. It requires the strength of a consistent Sadhana and balance. Control of muscular grip and concentration is also required. Slow and regular practice of the 12 wholesome steps of surya namaskar (sun salutation) makes our body relaxed and rejuvenated. It is known to give cardiovascular, blood circulation, muscle and joint relaxation and rejuvenation and other health benefits. (1)
The twelve steps of surya namaskar (sun salutation), if practiced in a fast and rapid nature, could provide benefits like cardiovascular exercise. A wholesome physical fitness regime is present in the 12 wholesome steps of surya namaskar (sun salutation). Every step has its own benefits specific or general to certain parts of the body, organ or the whole body.
Rigorous, rapid and constant contraction and stretching of the muscles burns fats deposited underneath the skin. This process even reaches the level of internal organ systems that some steps like the second and third which are Hastauttanasana and Hasta Padasana respectively stretch out and compress the abdominal area. Biceps and spinal bones are also stretched and compressed alternatively. Rapid stretching and compressing tone down the abdominal area and organs present in the area like pancreas, intestinal organs and others. It stretches the spinal bones so that deformity caused by habitual bad postures are corrected.
Rapid stretching and bending of leg muscles in steps like 4th, 5th and 8th which are Ashwa Sanchalanasana and Parvatasana and Ashwa Sanchalanasana respectively makes the muscles lean and rejuvenated. Slow practice makes the muscles relaxed however, rapid and multiple practice of the steps makes the muscles burn off excess fats and calories deposited in between the muscle fibers. Bhujangasana commonly known as the cobra pose is highly beneficial, as it stretches out the front and back side of the body at the same time while equally distributing the body weight. It stretches out the body from the esophagus till toes. Parts are compressed as well as stretched. Female reproductive parts are relaxed and stretched out so that it clears out the reproductive passages.
Surya namaskar (sun salutation) is practiced with a disciplined systematic breathing technique. Rapid and full breathing in addition to increased function of the cardiovascular system, helps in spreading fresh air from lungs to all parts of the body. It also helps to open all alveoli in lungs and stretch out and contraction of lung muscles to the fullest. This helps in respiration in cellular levels. Constant and vigorous movements of all body parts stretch and contract the nervous systems. It clears out any displacement and deformity present on the nervous systems due to our habitual nature that affects our body. This makes the nervous system of the body rejuvenate.
Rapid functioning of cardiac muscle strengthens it by making the muscles more stretchable. This also helps to cleans blood vessels so that the vessels become less prone to stroke. It makes the blood pass smoothly. If the 12 steps of surya namaskar (sun salutation) is practiced rapidly in a consistent manner, it gives benefits equal to cardiovascular exercise. Body becomes healthier, constant and rapid stretching of skin makes it more elastic and toned. Internal organs get toned down by burning excess fats. Most beneficially, this type of practice is a wholesome exercise that one could practice anytime in minimal space and without all the troubles of going to gym.
References & Further Reading on Sun Salutation and Cardio
- Sun Salutation and Health. Ramprakash, Barsing Devendra Baburao and Mishra Brijesh. 1, s.l. : International Journal of Development Research, 2015, Vol. 5.
- A comparative study of slow and fast suryanamaskar on physiological function. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, Kaviraja Udupa, Madanmohan, and PN Ravindra. 2, s.l. : International Journal of Yoga, 2011, Vol. 4, pp. 71-76.
- Suryanamaskar: An equivalent approach towards management of physical fitness in obese females. Komal A Jakhotia, Apurv P Shimpi, Savita A Rairikar, Priyanka Mhendale, Renuka Hatekar, Ashok Shyam, Parag K Sancheti. s.l. : International Journal of Yoga, 2015, Vol. 8, pp. 27-36.
- Effect of Surya Namaskar on weight loss in obese persons. Nautiyal, Rajni. 1, s.l. : International Journal of Science and Consciousness, 2016, Vol. 2, pp. 1-5.