With the recent rise in obesity awareness and the increased understanding of the importance of physical activity in promoting overall health, greater emphasis has been placed on improving physical fitness to enhance quality of life. Surya Namaskar, a component of Hatha Yoga, has been practiced by Asian Indians for hundreds of years and is often used in place of a typical fitness program. It consists of a series of postures (asanas) that are repeated 12 times per round. Only one published study has looked specifically at Surya Namaskar, measuring the energy cost of individual asanas (Sinha et al., 2004). However, practitioners typically perform several rounds of the asanas during a session.
Purpose: To assess the cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses of four rounds of Surya Namaskar, a typical amount performed by practitioners, to determine its potential as a training and weight loss tool.
Methods: Six healthy Asian Indian men and women (18-22 years) who had trained in Surya Namaskar for over two years participated in the study. Testing was completed in a single session lasting about 30 min. To measure heart rate and oxygen consumption while performing the four rounds, participants were connected to a heart rate monitor and the Oxycon Mobile Metabolic System.
Results: Participants exercised at 80% of age-predicted maximal heart rate (HRmax) during Round 2, 84% during Round 3, and 90% during Round 4. Average intensity during the four rounds was 80% HRmax, sufficient to elicit a cardiorespiratory training effect. Oxygen consumption averaged 26 ml/kg/min during each round, resulting in an energy expenditure of 230 kcals during a 30 min session for a 60 kg individual.
Conclusion: Regular practice of Surya Namaskar may maintain or improve cardiorespiratory fitness, as well as promote weight management.
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