Yoga has been around for the longest of time, and is only just being taken seriously around the world. Many would regard it as a “fad” or something reserved for the “sadhus” and hippies of the world. Today, although it has become greatly popular, very few know the deep rooted benefits yoga has beyond the exercise and fitness front. Yoga truly enhances your body-mind connection, to help you understand and respond to your body and its needs.
Yoga is a practice, which demands your full attention and undivided focus as you move from one asana (yoga position) to another, much like meditation. It not only makes you physically more fit and flexible, but also improves your immune system and heart health, reduces migraines, betters your sleep and most importantly, your mental state of mind. Take the asanas of Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations, as an example.
Surya Namaskar is meant to honor the sun which is the bane of our entire existence and creation, as it is the source of all energy. While performing the Surya Namaskar we first begin by joining our hands close to the heart. We join our hands to the sun as a Namaskar which means to honor and adore. The hands are close the heart as it signifies the source of our energies.
The cycle of Surya Namaskar mimics the rising and setting of the sun. It is a complete cycle of heating up the body and cooling it down, just as the sun rises and sets. The warrior poses are the difficult poses which generate heat in the body signifying strength, and meant to bring out our ego and pride. The downward poses cool down the body, signifying the humbling of the mind and soul. This is the complete cycle of life. The most important part of the Surya Namaskar and all Yoga practices is the focus on breathing. Breathing is known as prana, which is the core of our life and existence. During this, we must keep our mind clear of all thoughts, and focus on breathing instead. While moving downward (bending), such as the downward dog, exhale, and while moving the body in an upright position, inhale.
Surya Namaskar is known to increase your solar plexus, which is considered the second brain. This enhances your intuitive abilities along with your concentration and focus. It helps to keep you away from any mental ails, such as depression and negative tendencies.
Health wise, Surya Namaskar improves flexibility, strength, and blood circulation throughout the body. The best time to practice the Sun Salutations is at sunrise or sunset, facing the sun. In the morning it helps to refresh the mind, making you ready to face the day. In the afternoon, it energizes the body instantly. If performed in the evening, it helps you unwind and relax. If you perform Surya Namaskar at a fast pace, and with multiple repetitions, it becomes an excellent cardiovascular workout and a great way to lose weight.
All Yoga in general, is the most natural form of exercise for the human body. Yoga is not only a way to improve your physical health, by mental too. As you must clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing in all forms of Yoga, it improves your concentration, and reduces the feeling of restlessness and anxiety. The best way to indulge in Yoga is with an instructor to ensure your postures are correct, in a quiet and balanced atmosphere. Outdoor Yoga amongst the nature is ultimate for your body and mind. If you want to start on your own however, all you really need is a Yoga mat and a YouTube video! If you don’t know where to start, begin with the Surya Namaskar and experience its manifold benefits.