Yoga: Surya Namaskar - Benefits and Positions

Though, I have not covered yoga in much details in my blog till date as I am not a yoga expert but it is not possible for me to stop the urge for talking about one of the best yogasana which has shown miraculous impact on body systems for various health conditions. Infact, it is considered as the best exercise for human body. Surya Namaskar consists of not only important Yogasanas and but also Pranayama. The Pranayama and its advantages are skillfully incorporated in Surya Namaskar. In all this Surya Namaskar is an appreciated exercise among people of all ages from kids to old age people.

Ideally, these exercises should be performed early in the morning, exposing your body to the sun's rays. But if, for some reason, it cannot be performed in the morning you may do so in the evening on an empty stomach, in a well ventilated room. Initially, you may start with three rounds and gradually build up the stamina for 10 to 12 rounds. Practice the exercises at the pace you feel comfortable with. If you feel tired after a few rounds, rest by lying down with eyes closed for a few minutes.

Before I start on explaining the exercise in details, let me highlight the Health Benefits of Surya Namaskar:
  • Surya Namaskar series of  exercises activates the endocrine glands and the chakras (vortexes through which the vital life energy or prana is channeled into us) energizing the entire body in a balanced way
  • Surya Namaskar accords overall strength and flexibility to the body, which is why it is generally performed before other asanas
  • These simple exercises fight aging and rejuvenate the entire body
  • Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is the best way to burn the calories and reduce weight
  • It is often recommended for obesity reduction
  • Prevents Heart complaints and controls Blood sugar levels
  • They have beneficial effects on chronic skin problems
  • Relieves Stress and Tension
  • Improves attention and concentration
Now let us move to the different positions in Surya Namaskar:
Position1: Inhale and maintain it in standing position with hands joined together near chest, feet together and toes touching each other

Position2: Exhale and bend forward in the waist till palms touch the ground in line with the toes. Don't bend knees while performing. At first you may find it difficult to attain the ideal position but try to bend as much as possible without bending in knees.

  • While exhaling bend forward in the waist
  • Palms touching the ground, fingers pointing forward, thumbs at 90 degree angle
  • Legs straight
  • Try to touch the forehead to the knees
  • Relax the neck
  • Do not bend the knees
  • Do not keep the neck tense
Position3: Inhale and take the left leg back with left toes on the floor, press the waist downwards and raise the neck, stretch the chest forward and push shoulders backwards. Keep the right leg and both the hands in the same position. Keep the right leg folded.

  • Take the left leg backwards and touch the knee to the floor, keeping the toes erect
  • The knee of the right leg will need to be bent
  • The knee of the left leg should touch the ground
  • Drop the waist/ hips towards the floor
  • Gaze is upwards, and both arms are straight
  • Do not bend the neck forward
  • Do not bend the elbows
We will talk about the rest of the positions of Surya Namaskar in my next post.

Ayurvedic Cure for Heart Disease

The heart is the most important organ of the body which pumps blood to all the other organs in order to keep them functioning. The heart has to work tirelessly for every living second of our life. It is no wonder then, that the heart is the organ that undergoes the highest degree of wear and tear in the human body.

Heart Disease or Hridyaroga is a global phenomenon. Already a big health problem in the developed countries, it is now becoming a major health problem even in the developing countries. Depending on their dosha, the heart diseases could be Vataka Hridyaroga, Paittika Hridyaroga and Kaphaja Hridyaroga. These three have slightly differing symptoms as follows:
  • Vataka Hridaya Roga is characterized by acute pains which are not localized at a particular point. This is the heart disease caused due to the vitiation of the vata dosha
  • Pittika Hridaya Roga is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest cavity. This is the heart disease caused due to the vitiation of the pitta dosha
  • Kaphaja Hridaya Roga is characterized by mild pain in the chest, accompanied by heaviness, nausea and coughing. This is the heart disease caused due to the vitiation of the kapha dosha.
The predisposing factors of this disease are heredity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high serum cholesterol and smoking. The way of living and the way of feeling appear to be quite an important factor in its increasing incidence. Cardiovascular problems have been dealt with at length in Ayurveda, which describes 'Hridya' (heart) as a body organ governing emotions and circulating blood to keep a person alive and healthy.

Cardiac problems arise mainly due to improper diet and stressful life styles. These lead to thickening of arteries (dhamani praticaya) or hardening of arteries (dhamani kathinaya) resulting in angio-obstruction (vata dosa) and angina (ruja).

High blood pressure that hammers the arterial walls roughens them and causes the arterial wall to thicken. Fatty cholesterol particles get deposited under the inner lining of the arteries (i.e. atherosclerosis). The higher the pressure more the deposits will occur. Subsequently these deposits become calcified due to fibrous growth and involved arteries lose their elasticity. It prevents blood from flowing easily and may lead to clotting. The clot formation can suddenly choke off the blood supply and lead to a heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.

Treatment for Heart Disease:

Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Heart Diseases:

1. Alfalfa (Medicago satina): The congestion of the arteries can be reduced with help of juice of Alfalfa. The juice has better effects if it is taken along with the juice of a fresh carrot.

2. Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna): Arjuna has properties in increasing the stimulation to the heart. Its bark is used in Ayurveda for this purpose.

3. Digitalis (Digitalis purpurea): The digitalis herb is renowned all over the world for its benefits in heart care. The herb can stimulate the activity of all muscle tissues, including those of the heart. It improves the nourishment of the heart and rejuvenates the heart from its basic wear and tear. The digitalis herb also helps in correcting problems that may occur in blood circulation to the heart.

4. Ephedra (Ephedra gerardiana): The ephedra has fantastic heart stimulating properties. It is especially beneficial in strengthening hearts that are damaged due to infections of pneumonia and diphtheria.

5. Garlic (Allium sativum): Rasona or garlic is most important substance helpful in alleviating vata dosha controlling blood pressure. It can break down the cholesterol accumulated in the coronary arteries. Having a few cloves of raw garlic every morning can also reduce the possibility of a heart attack.

Alternatively, a paste made of about 1gm of garlic should be mixed with a glass of buttermilk. Drink this buttermilk twice a day. It will bring your blood pressure down. Garlic lowers cholesterol and triglyceride that have impact on heart disease

6. Onion (Allium cepa): Scientists have proved the properties of the onion in allaying heart attacks. It also reduced thrombosis of the heart and reduces the accumulation of blood cholesterol.

Additional Ayurvedic treatments for specific heart diseases: The preferred drug for people with heart problems is the arjuna. The modes of giving this drug depends on the dosha of the ailment.

1. If the person has a vata dosha related heart disease, then the powdered bark of the arjuna is given mixed with pure ghee.

2. If the person has a pitta dosha related heart disease, then the powdered bark of the arjuna is given mixed with milk.

3. If the person has a kapha dosha related heart disease, then the powdered bark of the arjuna is given mixed with pippali powder or with honey.

Medicines prepared using arjuna as the main ingredient, such as Arjunarishta and Arjuna ghritam can also be given in some cases.

In addition, there are other medicines for heart care such as Hridayarnava rasa and Prabhakara vati, which are given in the form of tablets. If the person has suffered an acute heart attack, then Mrigamadasava is found to be quite effective.

Other medications as per Ayurveda:

Soak 1tsp fenugreek seed in water for a night and munch them early in the morning on empty stomach. It will reduce your cholesterol and excess fats.

Jaharmorha is another Ayurvedic drug used in the treatment of cardio-vascular diseases. It is a yellowish-green soft stone found in the Himalayas. Its powder is processed with rose water and administered to heart patients.

Triphala Guggul is yet another Ayurvedic preparation found useful in reducing cholesterol levels

Diet for Heart Care

Some sources of fats are actually good for the heart contrary to popular belief, and they must be included in the diet. The fats that are harmful for the heart are the trans-saturated fats, which are also labeled as hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or shortening. These fats can remove all the proteins, fibers, minerals and vitamins from the body, leaving behind only toxins.

But fats that are polyunsaturated or monounsaturated are good for the heart. These fats are contained in olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil and ghee. Such fats should make up for about 15% of the food requirement.

At the same time, remember that fat-free diets are extremely harmful for the body. These diets do not contain any fats, which prohibit the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. This can only bring death faster.

All stimulating foods such as tea, coffee, alcohol and chocolates must be avoided by heart patients.

Some more Home Remedies to keep Heart healthy

1. A glass of lemon juice must be drunk daily. Lemon juice contains vitamin C, which helps to dissolve the cholesterol. Amalaki can also be used for this purpose.

2. Have a cup of parsley tea daily. Parsley must be also included in the salad along with beet roots. This helps the proper functioning of the heart.

Take care of your heart.

Which is your most preferred way to keep your body fit and away from diseases?