Doing Surya Namaskar increases your heart rate enough to produce significant cardiovascular health benefits, according to research from the Touro College of Medicine in New York published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
The results of this yoga study show that by the time you complete two rounds of Surya Namaskar, you can reach 80% of your age-predicted maximum heart rate, known as HRmax. During round three of Surya Namaskar, you can reach 84% of HRmax and during round four you can reach 90% of HRmax. The researchers found the study’s participants achieved an average of 80% of HRmax, which is high enough to offer cardiovascular benefits.
Surya Namaskar Study Participants
Six healthy men and women, between the ages of 18 and 22 who had been doing Surya Namaskar for two years or more, participated in this one-day study. To gather data, the researchers attached a heart rate monitor to each participant to measure cardiovascular changes while they completed four rounds of Surya Namaskar.
What is Surya Namaskar?
Surya Namaskar, also known as Sun Salutation, is a series of 12 Hatha yoga poses you perform at the beginning of each Hatha yoga class — although there are variations. This series is based on yoga poses found in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is an ancient Hatha yoga text describing over 8 million poses, and honors the importance of the sun. Some people simplify their home practice by only performing Surya Namaskar and waiting until yoga class to perform other poses. After performing Surya Namaskar, remember to relax in Shavasana / Corpse Pose for at least three minutes.
Tips for Your Next Cardiovascular Workout
Here are a couple tips for effective cardiovascular workout:
- The duration must be a minimum of 10 minutes each session, according to the National Institutes of Health, but at least 20 minutes is better.
- The National Institutes of Health recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular activity per week for healthy adults. During moderately intense activity, you can carry on a conversation using short sentences. In contrast, during vigorously intense activities you cannot catch your breath sufficiently to have a conversation.