Yoga is often praised in the mass media as the new fitness-craze promising weight loss, and increased strength and flexibility. However, when one sees a yoga practitioner curled up in a seemingly impossible pose, the natural tendency is to think: “Well this person has been practicing for years, how can Yoga help me lose the weight now?”
Through the acclaimed Sun Salutations, that’s how.
What are they?
These exercises are a combination of Yoga Poses, Breathing Exercises, Sun Bathing and Prayer. They have been practiced for centuries by Yoga Practitioners in India, Martial Artists and African Wrestlers and as a system to rejuvenate the body and soul are beyond compare. It’s been said in the Drugless Healing circles that one round of the Sun Salutations is much better than a week of exercises at the gym!
They are very simple to learn and just about anyone, regardless of their fitness or flexibility levels can learn these simple exercises. In actuality, if you are familiar with “burpies” (the calisthenics exercise), they do derive their origin from the Sun Salutations.
Here are some of their benefits:
-They alleviate disorders of the skin and waist.
-Flexibility increases and breathing is corrected, moreover, they mildly exercise the legs and arms, thus increasing the circulation.
-They are the best way to burn calories and reduce weight and are often recommended for obesity and depression.
-They are an effective way of loosening up, stretching and massaging all joints and internal organs of the body.
-They stimulate and balance all the systems of the body including the endocrine, circulatory, reproductive and digestive system.
1. Stand straight with the palms together as in a prayer position.
2. Inhale and stretch the arms above the head.
3. Exhale and bend forward while touching the toes.
4. Inhale and stretch the right leg away from the body in a big backward step and keep the hands and left foot firmly on the ground. Bending the head backward the left knee should be between the hands.
5. Inhale and hold the breath. Move the left leg from the body and, keeping both feet together and the knees of the floor, rest on the hands (arms straight) and keep the body in a straight line from head to foot.
6. Exhale and lower the body to the floor. In this position, only 8 portions of the body come in contact with the floor: the two feet, two knees, two hands, chest and forehead.
7. Inhale and bend back as much as possible bending the spine to the maximum.
8. Exhale and lift the body of the floor. Keep the feet and heels on the floor.
9. Inhale and bring the right foot along the level of the hands; left foot and knee should touch the ground. Look up, bending the spine slightly (same position as #4)
10. Exhale and bring the left leg forward. Keep the knees straight and bring the head down to the knees as in the third position.
11. Raise the arms overhead and bend backward inhaling. As in Position 2.
12. Exhale and drop the arms and relax.
You have now completed one round. Perform as many rounds as possible in multiples of 3. Ideally you want to aim for 6 rounds minimum and up to a maximum of 30. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your speed and intensity and is best practiced with as little clothing as possible before an open air window first thing in the morning.
You could do a search in Yahoo! Images for “Sun Salutations” to see a visual representation of these powerful exercises and be rest assured that with a sensible diet and a wise combination of these exercises-with any other fitness regimen you may choose-you are well on your way to attaining natural weight loss, increased strength and overall fitness with the help of yoga.
So don’t get intimidated when you see a seasoned practitioner in a seemingly tough pose. Yoga is for everyone and can help you lose weight.