Completing a 30-minute Hatha yoga class – 4 rounds of Surya Namaskar and resting – has cardiovascular benefits (Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies).
Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is a series of 12 yoga asanas you (ritualistically) perform 1 or more times at the beginning of some yoga classes, including a Hatha or Sivananda class. Surya Namaskar honors the importance of the sun.
Does Surya Namaskar increase your heart rate?
The objective of this small study from the Touro College of Medicine (2011) was to determine if doing Surya Namaskar could increase a yoga student’s heart rate enough to produce cardiovascular health benefits.
Young, healthy, experienced yogis
Six healthy men and women of Asian-Indian heritage, aged 18 to 22 years, participated in this study designed to assess the cardiovascular benefits of doing 4 rounds of Surya Namaskar. The participants were experienced yogis with more than 2 years of Surya Namaskar training.
30-minute Hatha yoga class for cardiovascular health
In this 1-day yoga study to investigate the cardiovascular benefits of Surya Namaskar, the participants completed a single, 30-minute, Hatha yoga class comprising 4 rounds of Surya Namaskar and resting poses. The researchers attached a heart rate monitor to each participant to measure their cardiovascular changes during the yoga class.
Cardiovascular benefits of 4 rounds of Surya Namaskar
After 4 rounds of Surya Namaskar, the participants achieved 80% of their age-predicted maximum heart rate (HRmax). This number is high enough to induce cardiovascular benefits.
The results of the yoga study indicate “there are real cardiovascular benefits from doing Surya Namaskar”:
- By Round 2, the participants reached 80% of HRmax
- During Round 3, the participants reached 84% of HRmax
- During Round 4, the participants reached 90% of HRmax
Cardiovascular exercise basics
A 10-minute session is the least amount of time you need to reap the cardiovascular benefits of Surya Namaskar, or any cardio exercise, according to the National Institutes of Health. This US organization recommends healthy women and men complete 150 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular activity per week.
What is moderately intense activity?
During moderately intense activity, you can hold a conversation using short sentences. By contrast, during vigorously intense activities, you cannot catch your breath sufficiently to hold a conversation.