Making exercise a priority in the morning can be challenging. I think most people would agree that exercising in the morning is a good thing, but the reality is time always seems to get in the way.
There are many benefits that come from a morning exercise routine such as; increased blood flow, more energy, and fewer aches and pains.
So what’s the solution to realize these benefits and many more? It’s a yoga sequence call Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara). Sun Salutation is a 5-minute morning exercise that will revitalize your life and send you off to tackle your day with a sense of calm and purpose.
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara)
The sun salutation is a sequence of postures, each with its meaning and function. It is a daily practice intended for dawn and/or sunset and done in the direction of the sun. Ideally, you would practice Sun Salutation outside to be in nature when honoring the sun and sharing your gratitude for its energy, but it isn’t a requirement.
The Benefits of Doing Sun Salutation Every Morning
Regular and faithful practice of Sun Salutation in the mornings can benefit you in the following ways. It:
- Strengthens the entire digestive system.
- It invigorates and restores the nervous system.
- Energizes the heart and regulates blood pressure and heart palpitations.
- Promotes healthy lungs and breath.
- Stimulates glandular activity.
- Strengthens the muscles in your upper and lower body including your abdomen and back.
- Reduces excess fat on the body.
- It improves kidney function.
- Encourages proper posture.
- Brings clarity to your mind.
Basically, a morning ritual that includes Sun Salutation will benefit all your vital organs, muscles, your mind and it will provide shape and muscle to your body in a healthy, natural way.
Practicing Sun Salutation
The good thing about Sun Salutation is it is perfect for all levels. The series is made up of eight beginning yoga poses that take you through twelve stations. It can take you anywhere from 5 minutes to longer, depending on how many sequences you choose to do.
Make sure you are in comfortable clothing and barefoot is best. The below-detailed instructions come courtesy of The Yoga Journal.
How to Perform the Exercise:
- To begin, stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Establish a slow, steady rhythm for your breath. Find your center.
- Next, inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and overhead into Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute). Reach your heart and arms to the heavens, sending your greeting to the sun.
- As you exhale, hollow out your belly and fold into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), connecting down into the earth. Keep your legs firmly engaged.
- Inhale and lengthen your spine forward into Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend). In this pose, the gaze is lifted, the spine is extended, and the fingertips can stay on the floor or rise to the shins.
- Exhale and step or lightly hop your feet back behind you into Plank Pose. Your wrists should be flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart, and your feet should be at hip distance. Take a full breath in as you lengthen through your spine.
- Exhale and lower into Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), keeping your legs straight and pushing back into your heels or bringing your knees to the floor. Build heat in the center of your body as you hold this challenging posture.
- Inhale and carve your chest forward into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog), directing that energy out from your heart. Pull your shoulders back and open your collarbones. Engage your legs but relax your gluteal muscles.
- Exhale and roll over the toes, coming into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Ground down through your hands and feet as you lengthen your spine. Remain here for five breaths.
- On your fifth exhale, bend your knees and look between your hands. Then inhale and step or lightly hop your feet between your hands, returning to Ardha Uttanasana.
- Exhale back to Uttanasana, surrendering into the fold.
- Inhale, reaching your arms out wide to your sides and coming to stand through a flat back. Feel a renewed sense of energy as you draw your arms overhead into Urdhva Hastasana.
- Exhale and return to Tadasana, your home base. Remain here for a few breaths, feeling the movement of energy through your body, or continue on to your next salute.
Note: This is only a half the sequence. Repeat it switching legs. If the flow between poses is challenging, you might want to begin by practicing the poses individually until you are sure you are in good form.
Final Thoughts on the Sun Salutation Exercise
Realizing the benefits of practicing Sun Salutation requires intention and regularity. Of course, this is true of any yoga practice. Ideally, you will want to practice it every day, but if it is a challenge try for every other day.
The ultimate goal is to develop a regular practice and when you do it won’t be long until your day feels incomplete without your morning ritual.