When you feel like starting your yoga practice with your favourite pose, you may skip the practice of sun salutations. Sometimes we are so eager - or pressed for time - to get into our asana practice that in the process we skip the practice of Sun Salutations.
Yoga practitioners have often suffered injuries during their practice. Although some yoga practitioners accept this as part of their practice, others wonder what they are doing wrong. Injury often results from inadequate warming up before jumping into forward bends, backbends, and other demanding poses. There are many reasons why traditional yoga classes begin with Surya Namaskara or Sun Salutation.
Here are 5 Reasons you Should Think Twice About Skipping your Sun Salutations
1. Give your Body a Complete Warm-up
A sun salutation can be performed for five minutes to fifteen minutes depending on the length of your yoga practice and provides a complete warm-up for the entire body. As a rule of thumb, it should be performed for about one-tenth of the total time of your practice, and its intensity will determine the duration.
A reliable measure of warm-up is that you should perspire lightly, your breathing should be a bit faster, and you should not feel exhausted or already be catching your breath.
As part of the sun salutations, one performs cardio, stretches, core strengthening movements, and increases blood circulation and body temperature, which help muscles warm up and receive fresh oxygen. A warm muscle contracts more forcefully and relaxes faster, which increases the muscle's overall strength.
Additionally, Sun Salutations increase the blood flow in the spinal cord, resulting in improved nerve transmission and metabolism. This stimulation of deeper muscles and tissues activates the heart for increased activity and prevents rapid changes in blood pressure by activating the baroreceptors.
2. Increase Overall Flexibility
Sun salutations lubricate the joints, decrease muscle tension, and increase the elasticity of the muscles and connective tissue, resulting in more range of motion around the joints and reducing the risk of injuries such as strains and pulls, as well as post-exercise soreness.
As a result of forward and backward bending motions, the intervertebral discs are massaged and lubricated. This results in a healthier spine, as the strength and flexibility of the spine are increased as a result.
3. Increase Strength and Endurance of all Muscles
As your muscles warm, the temperature of your blood travelling through them increases. As the temperature of your blood increases, oxygen becomes more easily available to your muscles, which improves your endurance.
During sun salutations, the body increases the secretion of hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine), which are needed for oxygenation. These hormones increase the availability of fatty acids and carbohydrates for converting oxygen into energy, which the muscles need for any physical movements.
4. Increase Body-breath Coordination
Sometimes we hold our breath while attempting challenging poses (or in any challenging situation in life), and in a traditional sun salutation, the movements are coordinated with the breath, and each movement lasts a full breath. This helps improve body-breath coordination, and such coordination is useful for maintaining the proper breathing pattern throughout your yoga practice so that you can maintain optimal safety, concentration, and performance.
5. Prepare and Focus your Mind
Sun salutations prepare your mind for upcoming asana practice because they involve complex movements and breath coordination. It can be easy to get injured if the mind is unfocused or stressed. Sun salutations also increase your overall awareness and concentration, which are essential for a fruitful yoga (and meditation) practice.
Sun salutations have been practised for thousands of years to acknowledge the sun's life-giving energy within yourself, to celebrate the energy of the sun and to celebrate the power of that same energy within you. They are powerful in building physical strength and endurance, warming up the entire body, and cultivating presence in your practice. Namaste!
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