Yoga, an ancient Indian practice, is touted for overall well-being. From coordinated breathing exercises and meditation to asanas that flex and stretch the body muscles, yoga includes all. Surya Namaskar, a combination of 12 yoga postures performed in continuation, is propagated as power yoga that promises a complete body workout as it helps balance all three elements of the body – Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. The benefits of Surya Namaskar are known far and wide. But it is only recently that it has managed to garner all the attention as a weight loss technique (thanks to picturesque seaside videos of Shilpa Shetty, Kareena Kapoor, and Malaika Arora performing the sun salutation asana passionately to perfection). While top B-town celebrities and fitness influencers vouch for Surya Namaskar for weight loss, does it actually guarantee weight loss?
Surya Namaskar for Weight Loss
While Surya Namaskar will not leave you sweating or short of breath, believe it or not, Surya Namaskar helps in weight loss. Each round of Surya Namaskar includes 12 asanas to be done in continuation with ideally 12 sets or repetitions that help you reap positive results and perhaps that is the key for using Surya Namaskar for weight loss.
Research suggests that each round of Surya Namaskar helps you burn 13.90 calories. So, mathematically, 12 repetitions will help you lose 416 calories. Furthermore, each round of Surya Namaskar is ideally completed in less than 4 minutes. So, all it takes is about 45 minutes to burn those 400 plus calories. But remember, the key is to remain regular and consistent.
How to Perform Surya Namaskar?
Surya namaskar or sun salutation connotes paying obeisance to the sun. Though sun salutation for weight loss can be performed at any time of the day, doing it on an empty stomach upon sunrise renders maximum benefits. The 12 asanas or poses of Surya namaskar for weight loss are:
1. Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)
Stand upright with your feet close together. Inhale a deep breath and let your chest expand while keeping your shoulders relaxed. As you inhale, lift your arms from the side. As you exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest to come in the prayer position.
2. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
Keep your palms joined as in a prayer pose. Inhale deeply and lift your arms stretching over your head. Bend backwards with your biceps close to your ears.
3. Hasta Padasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
Keep your spine erect, while exhaling, bending forward from the waist, and trying touching the floor. Make sure you do not bend your knees. Throughout the pose, inhale and exhale slowly and deeply.
4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian Pose)
Push your left leg back while keeping your right leg between your palms. Let your left knee touch the ground as you focus on pushing your pelvis towards the floor. Keep your back straight and look upwards. Focus on your breathing and let your core muscles move actively with every inhalation and exhalation.
5. Chaturanga Dandasana (Plank Pose)
Exhale and bring your right leg back to form the plank pose. Make sure to keep both legs hip-width apart. Without bending your elbows, use your arms to balance your body weight. Keep your body aligned in one straight frame.
6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Eight-Limbed Pose)
Release yourself from the chaturanga dandasana pose. As you slowly exhale, gradually let your knees touch the floor. While you place your chin on the floor, keep your hips suspended in the air. Your hands, chin, chest, knees, and feet will rest on the ground while the hips will remain suspended in the air forming an inverted ‘V’. Focus on your hips and push them upwards.
7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie down flat on the ground with your palms next to your chest. Inhale deeply and while applying pressure on the hands, raise your head and torso. Your posture will resemble a cobra with a raised hood.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Pose)
From the cobra pose, swiftly move into the Adho mukha svanasana. For this, gently lift your waist and hips with your hands and feet firmly grounded. Make sure not to bend your elbows and knees as you form a sharp inverted ‘V’, pushing your hips upwards.
9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana (High-Lunge Pose)
Go back to asana 4 or the ashwa sanchalanasana pose but with the opposite leg. To do so, relax from the current posture and pull your left leg forward between your palms as you keep your right leg stretched backwards. Make sure that your left leg is perpendicular to the floor. Looking forward, focus on your core by drawing your navel in.
10. Hasta Padasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Inhale deeply and gently pull your right foot forward. Bring it together with the left foot. Keep the position of hands intact, slowly exhale and raise your torso to enter the hasta padasana pose. Make sure you do not bend your knees or elbows.
11. Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)
Return to pose 2. Inhale and lift your upper body. With your palms joined, raise your arms above the head and stretch backwards with your biceps close to your ears.
12. Tadasana (Palm Tree Pose)
Tadasana is the simplest pose of the surya namaskar. Breathe out gently. Hold your hands together and stretch them over your head. Come up on your toes and give your body a good stretch. Exhale and gently stand straight in a relaxed manner. Bring your hands in front of your chest as in the Pranamasana or the prayer pose.
Other Benefits of Surya Namaskar
In addition to weight loss, practising Surya Namaskar regularly and consistently confers the following benefits:
- Glowing skin
- Strong joints and muscles
- No stiffness of the body
- Improved digestive functioning and detoxification
- Improved sexual stamina
- Improved blood circulation
- Strong core
- Improved mental health
Who Should Avoid Doing Surya Namaskar?
Although Surya Namaskar is a comprehensive collection of safe yoga poses, adopting the practice of doing Surya Namaskar for weight loss is not recommended for:
- Pregnant women
- Menstruating women
- Individuals diagnosed with a hernia
- Individuals with chronic high blood pressure
- Individuals with chronic back conditions
Yoga enthusiasts understand the importance of Surya Namaskar for weight loss. The benefits reaped are manifold, provided it is practised regularly and at a consistent pace. Moreover, holding onto every pose for 5 seconds is crucial. And the key is to complete 12 sets every day, which undoubtedly is a difficult but doable task. Having said this, a proper balanced and nutritious diet program still remains a must. Also, do consult a trained yoga professional to learn the right manner of doing each pose to avoid injuries.