Doing Surya Namaskar increases your heart rate enough to produce significant cardiovascular health benefits, according to research results published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.


Cardiovascular Benefits of Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutation

Cardiovascular Benefits of Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutation


You don’t have to do aerobics to significantly improve your cardiovascular health. You can achieve an average of 80 percent of HRmax while doing surya namaskar, sun salutation, which is high enough to offer significant cardiovascular benefits when you perform it for 10 minutes or more.

What Is HRmax?

Your HRmax is your target heart rate zone when you exercise. The number you want to achieve depends on your age, weight, and gender, as well as any recommendations from your physician or personal trainer. Use this free online target heart rate calculator from Washington State University to find yours.

HRmax During Surya Namaskar by Round

The researchers from the  Touro College of Medicine in New York measured HRmax during the rounds of sun salutation and found:

  • By the time you complete two rounds, you can reach 80 percent of your age-predicted maximum heart rate, HRmax.
  • During round three of surya namaskar you can reach 84 percent of HRmax.
  • In round four you can reach 90 percent of HRmax.

The small sample consisted of six healthy men and women, between the ages of 18 and 22. These experienced yoga practitioners had been doing Surya Namaskar for two years or more. 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 yoga students simplify their home practice by only performing Surya Namaskar and waiting until yoga class to perform other poses. After performing Surya Namaskar, I like to relax in Shavasana / Corpse Pose for at least 10 breaths.

Tips for Your Next Cardiovascular Workout

Here are a couple tips for effective cardiovascular workout:

  1. 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.
  2. The National Institutes of Health recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of vigorously intense activity per week for healthy adults.

The Difference Between Moderate and Intense Activity

During a 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.

Yoga References for Cardiovascular Benefits of Surya Namaskar

1. U.S. Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?

2. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies: Acute Effects of Surya Namaskar on the Cardiovascular and Metabolic System; B. Mody; July 2011