"Surya Namaskar keeps you focused"
This Monday, nearly 10,000 school students will come together at the Shivaji Park for a mass Surya Namaskar to celebrate the birth anniversary of Ramkrishna Paramahamsa. The GUIDE spoke to Yoga expert Shameem Akhtar to find out the benefits of Surya Namaskar
How is Surya Namaskar beneficial to us?
Surya Namaskar is the perfect aerobic exercise for the whole body. It can be used not only as a warm-up for all forms of exercise but also to stretch out after a hectic workout. Surya Namaskar is a mind-stimulating practice that boosts energy by tweaking major endocrine glands. It is also believed to clear the energy pathways, and works as a de-tox method. The Surya Namaskar is used to treat depression, and helpful for those with obesity and chronic diseases. Postures like standing crescent and downward facing dog pose tone hands and legs. It also promotes hair growth and gives your skin a glow.
Are there any pointers that people should be cautious of while practising Surya Namaskar?
Usually, it is contraindicated for beginners to yoga, with some health issues such as very high blood pressure, knee problems, lower backache, and cardiac issues. In some of these cases, once the problem is sorted through therapeutic yoga (as with yoga for high blood pressure), you may proceed to learn and practise surya namaskar.
Where do most of these problems emerge from?
Most problems, today, are however with doing it without regard for proper form or technique. It is done shabbily and therefore much of its benefits, which come from acupressure points being touched, are totally lost. Some do it without awareness as a form of physical exercise and again without a meditative engagement. Much of what you wish from yoga, and Surya Namaskar, will not happen unless you learn to focus on each part of the body when you do each set.
How has Surya Namaskar evolved over the years from sun worship to a physical exercise?
I doubt there is much documentation on this subject. In fact, today most of yoga is also treated as a physical exercise though it is actually a very spiritual practice and one of the most evolved mind-control techniques in the world. In serious yoga schools, no practice is taught as a purely physical exercise but as a mind-control tool. The beauty and challenge of yoga comes from this aspect of it. When it is treated purely as a physical exercise, you do not utilise your mind much. So, I do not know how to answer your question, because that is not how I teach it. The relation with surya namaskar and sun salute is present, obviously, because it is something you do in the mornings, but you may relate to yoga from any angle, and all of them will be valid.
On February 18 AT Shivaji Park.