MYTH: Surya Namaskar is a complete workout.

2 min read

‘And now we will learn Surya Namaskarthe complete body workout.’ – sounds familiar?
Chances are when you hear the word Yoga, the first thing that comes to your mind is Surya Namaskar.
Surya Namaskar is often considered as the complete body workout. That’s why it finds a dedicated place in most of the Yoga classes. But is it really a complete workout?

Gif source: Tenor

Usually every popular Yoga class begins with the Surya Namaskar. Your satisfaction from a yoga class depends on how many SN you practiced! In fact there are classes where people do as many as 108 SN at one go.

Surya Namaskar is an energising sequence, no doubt about that, but is it a complete workout? A resounding NO.

When we say ‘a complete workout’ the underlying assumption is that it works on every muscle and joint which, unfortunately, it does not.

In layman terms, it doesn’t open our every joint or work on every muscle as suggested by many popular Yoga teachers or practitioners.

Let’s take our shoulders for example – Surya Namaskar only helps in flexion and extension movements, whereas your shoulder can abduct, adduct and circumduct.

Does it include spinal twisting? Or adduction, abduction of the hip joints?

There are close to 21 movements in the human body that happen in the joints (listed below) – how many of these movements are included in Surya Namaskar?

  1. Flexion
  2. Lateral Flexion
  3. Dorsiflexion
  4. Plantarflexion
  5. Extension
  6. Abduction
  7. Adduction
  8. Transverse Abduction
  9. Transverse Adduction
  10. Rotation
  11. Lateral Rotation
  12. Medial Rotation
  13. Supination
  14. Pronation
  15. Protraction
  16. Retraction
  17. Elevation
  18. Depression
  19. Reversion
  20. Eversion
  21. Opposition

Every single of these movements involve a complex combination of muscles and nerves. To exclude all those movements and still call Surya Namaskar a complete body workout is plain ignorant.

Look at the picture below to see Flexion and Extension of shoulders, a recurring movement in Surya Namaskar. This is happening in the sagittal plane.

All the movements in SN are happening in the sagittal plane.

Sagittal is one of the anatomical planes. Anatomical plane is a hypothetical plane used to transect the body, in order to describe the location of structures/organs or the direction of the body movements.

So if you think that only doing N number of Surya Namaskar is a comprehensive Yoga session, you’d be disappointed to know that it’s not.

Only when you are making movement in all the planes, then it can be termed as a full body workout.

If you are a Yoga practitioner or a trainer, you must ensure to include movement in all the anatomical planes to create a comprehensive and holistic Yoga practice session.

(click on the link to understand anatomical plane)

Another important aspect of Surya Namaskar is that it involves 6 Yogasana repeated twice in a single round.

The dynamic movement from one asana to another requires certain stability, agility and strength to reap the best out of this practice.

These asanas must be learnt and taught intensively for at least 2 to 3 months before practising them in a flow in Surya Namaskar.

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