The Sun Salutation - why is it awesome, and why should you do it?
The sun salutation (surya namaskar) is a set sequence of about a dozen asanas (yoga postures), performed in the same order and usually at the beginning of a yoga practice. There are different variations, e.g. the classical sun salutation, surya namaskar A & B - you'll be coming across them all in my classes. Now, let's look at why you should integrate them into your training regime to complement your programming.
1. It's super versatile
The sun salutation involves approximately 140 muscles in the body, using nothing but your own bodyweight. How's that for a well-rounded workout? It makes for a great warm-up, cool-down or a full-on workout in its own right. It all depends on how you pace it, how long you hold the postures for, and how many rounds you complete.
2. It mobilises the spine
The practice of yoga asana aims to move the spine in all directions by means of forward folds, backbends and twists. The sun salutation incorporates a number of poses that repeatedly flex and extend the spine, particularly the lumbar. This promotes spinal disc health as the biochemical process controlling disc hydration is stimulated through on and off pressure. The spinal discs already have very poor blood supply - now add to that gravity from walking upright, lack of movement due to a sedentary lifestyle, natural degeneration through ageing, as well as compression under load from weightlifting and you have...less than ideal conditions for your discs to stay happy and healthy!
3. It keeps your hammies happy
Struggling to keep a neutral spine when deadlifting? Tight hamstrings are a common plight, and not only among athletes. As they attach to the sitbones and the back of the thigh, tightness in these muscles may manifest as a tilt in the pelvis. This, in return, may compromise the integrity of the spine in CrossFit movements such as the deadlift. The standing forward fold (uttanasana) is an effective way to lengthen the hamstrings, particularly since is repeated several times throughout each round.
4. It requires no equipment
The sun salutation is a type of bodyweight exercise you can do anywhere, and with minimal space requirements. Get to it!
Check my schedule to find out times and locations of my yoga for athletes classes, see ya on the mat!