Sun Salutations - why do we do them?

BY les | Wed 27 Apr, 2016

Sun Salutations – why do we do them?

Love ‘em or hate ‘em they are an integral part of Ashtanga yoga.  We do them to warm the body at the beginning of the practice but also for the positive effect on respiration, circulation and the nervous system.  The movement keeps the spine supple and offers a stretch through the ribs and hips, lengthening the body to the benefit of the lungs and heart.  In addition to this, a Sun Salutation will give our internal organs a massage and strengthen and stretch the shoulders, arms, wrists, ankles and toes.  What’s not to like?


Suspend the ego and get laughing.

 My students often wonder why I ask them to smile while doing their practise.  I’m not just doing it so I can see smiley faces and think everyone is enjoying themselves.  There is science to back up the theory that smiling and laughter, even when not felt from the heart, elevates mood and flood us with good neuro peptides and I certainly welcome a whole host of those.

Here’s the science:

While I am not aware of any scientific research on yoga retreats in Spain, I am convinced these too help elevate mood and flood us with good neuro peptides.  One room left for May, grab it now.


Yoga and Mood

Boston University School of Medicine researchers have found that yoga is able to positively affect moods. The study was the first of its kind to focus on the practice of yoga postures and their effect on lowering anxiety and raising GABA levels. 

The study relied on a comparison of subjects who practised yoga and others who went for walks. Both subject groups were checked for their brain gamma-amino butyric (GABA) levels. If the GABA levels are low it is an indication of anxiety disorders and depression.
The study was conducted over a 3 month period and involved healthy people. The yoga group practiced one hour sessions of yoga three times a week and the other group spent the same amount of time walking.

Prior to the tests, the volunteers’ brains were scanned with a magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imager. After 3 months the volunteers had their GABA levels checked just before starting their last 60 minute session and again just after the end of it.
Additionally, throughout the study time frame, the volunteers were requested to self assess their psychological state. It became evident that the people who practiced yoga experienced a marked decreased in anxiety levels as well as improved mood states compared to the walking group.

Associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM, Chris Streeter, MD who is also the lead author of the study said: "Over time, positive changes in these reports were associated with climbing GABA levels."

Streeter believes that the results from his study mean that further investigation is required to further analyse the connection between mood and yoga and that yoga should be kept in mind as a practical therapy for certain mental disorders.
The National Institutes of Health funded the study which was published on the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine’s website.


Enhance your life:  I find Dave Swenson interviews enlightening and I like his take on life.  You might like to see his Omega Institute video clip



Why is it when we talk to God, we're said to be praying, but when God talks to us, we're schizophrenic?



Keep smiling.


Yours in Yoga



TAGS: yoga, retreats, spain

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