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For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been starting my Sundays with 108 sun salutations. The first time I did it, I nearly left the yoga studio halfway and felt wobbly and weak after (could also be due to a particularly tough yoga class the day before). Surprisingly, I sailed through the poses the second time, feeling strong and enjoying every minute of it. My yoga teacher informs (or tried to motivate) us that 70-year-old yogis in India do 108 sun salutations every day. In India, it is a method of self-improvement used to harness the full potential of the mind, body and breath for a variety of benefits, including reversing the effects of aging.

Over your lifespan, the physiology of your body begins to change. One effect of aging is decreased elasticity of the lungs, which diminishes your body’s ability to use oxygen, resulting in fatigue and poor immunity. Also, you will lose muscle tone and experience an increase in fatty tissues. Your bones will begin to lose their density, making them more fragile. The activity of your thyroid will decrease, your metabolism will slow down, and the strength of your digestive system will weaken.

Surya namaskara, or sun salutations, is a sequence of yoga poses that are said to be almost universally beneficial, with benefits that counter many of the effects of aging. Use sun salutations to maintain muscle tissue and flexibility throughout your life, to boost your metabolism by stimulating the thyroid, pancreas and pituitary glands, to alleviate indigestion and ailments of the liver and the pancreas, and to strengthen the spinal cord and cells of the nervous system. Practicing sun salutations regularly will give you more energy and more focus throughout the day.

The late Swami Vivekananda, a prominent yogi in India, had once said: “The result of this branch of Yoga is to make men live long; health is the chief idea, the one goal of the Hatha-Yogi. He is determined not to fall sick, and he never does. He lives long; a hundred years is nothing to him.”

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