Exercise Lifestyle

Sun Salutations – Please Shine Down On Me

I’ve started doing sun salutations first thing in the mornings. These no-impact yoga moves build strength, improve flexibility, and increase energy.

“Your day can be formed by how you spend your first hour. Check your thoughts, attitude, and heart”

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION
Sun salutations build strength, improve flexibility, and increase energy by boosting the metabolism through focused breathing.
Sun salutations build strength, improve flexibility, and increase energy by boosting the metabolism through focused breathing.

Sun Salutations say “Good Morning!” to the day

As I work on losing weight and getting fit, I need some practical and effective routines for exercise. At this point, I need something simple and easy to do. It also has to be a low-to-no impact exercise until I rebuild some level of fitness.

I’ve done sun salutations off and on for several years, but never really made it a practice. This is a shame because it is not only an easy routine, it is very effective for building strength, keeping limber, and firing up the body’s metabolism. It syncs movement with breath, giving it a meditative quality as well as a calisthenic benefit.

How I start my day is very important right now. I am actively rewriting the script in my head to change my mindset. So much of our mind is made up before we get out of bed. And we often have exactly the kind of day we asked for when we start with a crummy mindset.

What is great about sun salutations, and the reason I’m working to create a morning routine featuring them, is that they help start the day by getting the body energized and setting the mind in the right place to receive good things.

And it can be done right in the bedroom as soon as I get up.

Yoga has been a popular means of exercise for all ages for thousands of years.  Sun salutations are a very accessible routine that is great for beginners.
Yoga has been a popular means of exercise for all ages for thousands of years. Sun salutations are a very accessible routine that is great for beginners.

Sun salutations for health and balance

People have recognized the health and mental benefits of a regular yoga routine for centuries. It blends movement and concentration to improve a range of well-being.

Sun salutation is an easy way to get into yoga. It consists of about 10 movements that engage every part of the body. The exercise can be modified to meet restrictions in strength and mobility, and the pace of the movements is up to the person exercising.

A sun salutations routine requires no equipment, clothing, timers, heart rate monitors, or gadgets. A yoga mat is helpful but not required. It can take one minute to perform a routine or twenty. Indoors, outdoors, it is up to you.

Although the movements are called “sun salutations”, they can be performed at any time of day. All you need is some floor space the length of your body and the width of your armspan.

Benefits of a sun salutations routine

A number of scientific studies have recorded numerous health and wellness benefits from a regular yoga practice, even one as simple as sun salutations. These benefits include:

  • Decreases indications of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improves balance and coordination
  • Increases strength, endurance, and flexibility
  • Reduces inflammation and improved joint health
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Improves lung capacity and blood circulation
  • Develops focus and concentration

They don’t necessarily mention it in the scientific data, but there is also a benefit in the form of self-confidence that comes from feeling healthier, stronger, and more flexible.

Going through a sun salutation routine slowly increases stability and coordination.  It also creates a more meditative and contemplative state of mind.
Going through a sun salutation routine slowly increases stability and coordination. It also creates a more meditative and contemplative state of mind.

Fast or slow

While there are no strict rules to performing a sun salutation routine, the speed at which you perform it will give you different results.

As a base measure, each movement is tied to a single in and out breath. So, this can modified by changing the tempo of your breath. Faster breathing and faster movement will lead to more dynamic movement, faster heart rate, and over time greater strength and coordination.

But what happens when we slow it down? Breathing slower will naturally lead to slower, deeper, longer movements. Balance and coordination will improve. Strength will also improve but in a more static vs. dynamic way. You will become more stable in your stance, for example.

Moving slowly through the movements is also more meditative and you get a chance to check in with your body, feeling for stiffness or aches. You can contemplate your day and feelings. The deep, rhythmic breathing will help you develop a calm, responsive state of mind as well.

A daily sun salutations routine is the foundation for my return to health and wellness.  Many of my aches and pains can be reduced by increasing my strength and flexibility.
A daily sun salutations routine is the foundation for my return to health and wellness. Many of my aches and pains can be reduced by increasing my strength and flexibility.

My sun salutation program

How glad was I when I learned that sun salutations are linked to reducing appetite and weight loss?

Sun salutations have been point A of my daily exercise plan since I worked out my 16-week diet and exercise program. I cannot say why it has taken me so long to get around to it. Maybe the bad shape I am in required me to lose a little more weight and adjust to dieting and a meditation routine before taking on more tasks.

My ultimate goal is probably to have a daily routine of 20-25 sets of sun salutations in about 10 minutes. For now I have to start off kinda slow since even one set is likely to take me 10 minutes to complete.

For one week I’m going to do just 1 sun salutation. Yep, just one. But I’m going to work at doing it better and better each time. Next week I’ll increase it to 2 reps. Time won’t be a factor. I’ll take as long as I need to and I expect it to be a struggle.

Every week going forward I will increase the reps by 1. I will focus on moving as perfectly as I can and on maintaining my breathing.

By the end of my 16-Week Program, I want to be easily and smoothly performing 10-12 reps of sun salutations. The first three will be rather slow and meditative, then I’ll do three or four at a quick pace to raise my heart rate and build some dynamic strength. I will slow down the last three or four and finish slowly, contemplative and peaceful.

What results am I expecting to see?

This is an exercise that is going to heal my body and balance my mind. It will prepare me to meet the challenges of the day and have the confidence to know that I can measure up.

I’ll post in a few weeks what kind of progress I am making.

These are the movements I’ll be including in my sun salutation routine. I can always modify some moves to keep things fresh.

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