History of Sun SalutationA long, long time ago, in a mythical land, the monkey god, Hanuman, desired to learn from the best teacher available. He chose the Sun, Surya. The Sun travels the world and thus has seen and known everything. Surya initially refused, since he had no time to spare for Hanuman. Hanuman persisted and promised to keep up with Surya, in his daily journey and learn in the process. He would run ahead of the sun, but always mindful of keeping his face to the sun and pause to learn. And soon the sun would overtake, which meant he had to run forward again. Thus was born the twelve step Surya Namaskar. With his dedication, Hanuman learnt the Vedas in a week and as a token of gratitude he offered his Namaskar. His back and forth rhythmic motion is what you experience, when you attempt the Sun Salutation. If we delve deeper into the mythology, we all have a Hanuman within us. The primeval man, the instinctual brain, the energy that is needed for basic survival, primary needs. However if we choose, we can be more than a monkey. We can gain knowledge and thus become radiant like the sun, for the entire humanity. Surya Namaskar is one of the tools to help us, overcome the stressed out monkey within us and realise our potential.
Science behind itFurther more, think of the word, sun, solar… Did you know that the nerve plexus within our abdomen is called solar plexus. The solar plexus, and the enteric nervous system housed in the abdomen is said to have more nerve cells than the spinal chord! Surya Namaskar in its twelve steps is practice to stimulate and energise the solar plexus. In an ancient context there was a need to add mythology and a mysticism to get people interested in practice something good. I believe, within a evolved population of today, we need only to explain the science and the practice shall happen. Within today’s context when you do the Surya Namaskar, you are not bowing to the sun in the solar system. Instead maybe it is time to think that the practice is for energising the solar plexus. So now let’s go about analysing Surya Namaskar
Benefits of Sun Salutations
- Surya Namaskar is good for weight loss. A round of Surya Namaskar burns 13 calories and takes about a minute to practice. 40 minutes can burn up to 500 calories. 6-8 sets are ideal if you are looking for weight loss.
- Surya Namaskar is an excellent cardio, the breathing is consciously kept at a slow pace so that after the season there are no hunger pangs. Often after cardio, the hunger pangs you feel is owing to the stress hormone, cortisol, surge in your blood.
- Stress often goes into our tummy, giving us butterflies, lose motion or just poor digestion. When continued over time, this causes, various illnesses like fatty liver, diabetes, pot belly, cholesterol, constipation etc. Surya Namaskar helps prevent all these lifestyle diseases.
- The practice includes back bends, forward bends, core strengthening plank positions , hip openers etc, in essence you get to move and use almost all parts of your body. I akin it to the effort of running and yet using different parts of the body for the same.
- Practicing sun salutations daily helps to balance the three doshas according to Ayurveda, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It has been my experience that those who are sensitive both to emotions and negative energy, they feel Balanced after sun salutations.
About the author : Nuthan Manohar, Founder of Me Met Me is an international trainer, primary researcher and TEDx speaker on wellbeing.
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