How to Get a Total Body Workout in 5 Minutes

photo from OmLightPhotography.com

Life is busy. You have the kids to feed, the dog to walk, laundry to do, meals to prepare, hockey practice, dance practice. And then there’s your job. You have to run for the train, sit in traffic, draft that presentation, deliver that presentation, be nice to the clients to close that sale, be nice to the boss to get a raise, be nice to the spouse because you have to work late again so they’ll have to pick up the kids. Phew!! Life is B-U-S-Y!

So you’re not kidding when you say you just don’t have time to workout. Time is limited. And with everyone else counting on you to make things happen, taking care of yourself falls dead last on your priority list. Or maybe, it doesn’t even make it on the list….yikes!…but true. Dare I ask then, if you have five minutes to spare? Because that’s all the time you need to do this dynamic yoga sequence – surya namaskar (sun salutation) – and get a complete body workout.

First, a brief history lesson: Surya namaskar is a Sankrit term that translates into sun salutation in English. It is a flowing series of yoga poses designed to pay tribute to the sun – a powerful star that gives life to mother earth through it’s light and energy. Tradition has it that the Hindus have worshipped the sun for thousands of years, believing it to be the creator of all life, and the spiritual heart of the world. In India, sun salutation is performed outdoors and facing east, in the direction of the rising sun (a symbol of the dawn of consciousness). Nowadays, and in Western society, sun salutations are usually performed at the start of a yoga practice as a means of warming up the body, preparing it for an asana session.

So exactly how does this short yoga sequence work you from head to toe, inside, and out? Well, for starters, sun salutations are a flowing series of poses that will have you standing, bending, jumping, lifting, stabilizing and balancing. Everything you need to get the heart pumping and the body moving so that it can burn all those calories you’ve been taking in. The standing poses will ground you to the earth and strengthen your legs. They will help you to gain body awareness and find your centre, which is extremely useful for improving focus and stress management. Included in standing poses are lunges, chair pose and warrior poses, all of which will stretch your body, open your hips, and work your core muscles to stabilize and balance. Strong and flexible muscles make performing daily tasks, such as lifting heavy groceries out of the car, easier and injury-free. The forward bend and halfway lift works the spinal column, increasing strength and flexibility, in addition to stretching your hamstrings and improving your digestive system. The plank and four-limb poses builds upper body strength, working the arms, shoulders, chest and back. It also engages your core muscles to stabilize your body and keep your hips lifted. The downward dog pose stretches the spine and hamstrings, as well as strengthens the arms, shoulders, legs and abdominals. And that’s not all. Because this is a flowing series, which means each pose is synced with a breath, it moves at a fairly fast pace, giving you a great cardio workout. A daily practice of sun salutation can result in weight lose, improvement to the circulatory, digestive, and respiratory system, and a better maintenance of good health.

Now that’s a lot of great returns for a minimal time investment on your part. I’d say it’s well worth it to find the time! So, let’s give it a try. My videos below will show you the sequence for surya namaskar A and B, which is the variation that is practiced in Ashtanga yoga. If you are new to yoga, or just getting back into exercising, then you can substitute the jumps with a stepping forward or backward of the feet. Start off by doing either version A or B, repeating the sequence for five rounds. As you build up strength and energy, you can do both versions in one workout, for a total of ten rounds. You will see results faster, and it will give your body the extra challenge it is ready for.

sequence for surya namaskar A
sequence for surya namaskar B

So you see, it doesn’t take a lot of time to get some good exercise in. We can all find five minutes in our days, no matter how busy life is. It’s a whole lot easier to keep up with life when you are healthy and fit.

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