For a little inspiration, take a look at the Surya Namaskar B of Astanga Yoga
The Sun Salutation is a basic staple of the yoga world. A practice which tones all of the muscles of the body, and provides cardio according to effort and pacing, it is one of the best practices you can make a daily activity.
As our Great Lakes Health and Fitness class moves ever closer to practicing the 108 sun salutations, I have had some more questions about this practice.
Sun Salutations have traditionally been done in repetitions of 108, and this practice was handed down to me. So, I continue to invite students who wish to practice with me. The way I was taught was that the number 108 is a number of wholeness, and this is the thought in my mind. As I, personally, worked toward healing in my body, the bi-annual work toward 108 Surya Namaskar enables me to think of wholeness in my body, and the constant calm effort I wish to apply toward my own healing and healthy body. For other ideas about the significance of the number 108, you may want to look at the ideas I found on Swamij.com. This list includes many diverse ideas. But really, whatever your reason for practicing is fine, so long as it brings you joy.
Along with the calming of the mind, we learn something internal about discipline. It doesn’t have to be harsh, forced, or feel like a struggle. It may feel like a struggle if the mind does not develop discipline or learn to follow the breath. I have personally found it is this practice in particular that brought this concept into my experience fully. I no longer think of discipline as a cage, but as a template or a framework – more like a jungle gym. It is like a jungle gym in that it provides as structure, but something about the structure itself encourages me to find new and interesting ways to approach it. No two sessions of salutations are the same. It is always a matter of how to cultivate the various aspects of myself (mind, breath, emotion, tension, animation, and effort) while working around the framework.
So, I have begun to wonder about the science behind what we are doing. Has anyone studied this?
I have been researching how many calories are burned doing 108 sun salutations. Of course, varying body composition and other factors affect the calculation. But I was able to find a mighty interesting study. On the Mobile Workout Blog, a fitness student with access to a lab tested their own body in response to 10 minutes of sun salutations. You can see the study here. But let me give you some highlights:
Calories burned per minute – 7 (70 per ten minutes)
Of the 7 calories burned, 6.3 were fat calories
Improvements include increased hamstring flexibility and upper body strength
It is my guess that the person involved was not doing the sun salutations at the pace we do in class, but this gives us a fair estimate for deciding what benefits we may be getting in our own practice. In 50 minutes we would burn 350 calories at a minimum. Doing 108 Sun Salutations usually takes us about 90 minutes, so a minimum of 630 calories. Not bad.
Yoga Pose of the Day: Surya Namaskar
Yogic Concept of the Day: As I develop the discipline to increase the number of sun salutations I do, I know I am caring for myself in many ways.