The Best Morning Exercise Routine for Weight Loss
“It’s easy to find thousands of weight loss tips online, including trends and fads, tips from amateur exercise enthusiasts, fitness professionals, and medical experts” says Katie Papo, Fitness Coach and Yoga Instructor for Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts. “It can seem impossible to differentiate, or even to figure out which types of advice are best for you.” In this article, Katie shares with us the best morning exercise routine for weight loss, even beginners to fitness.
Even doctors can offer advice that may not work for us, or that science has proven to work in the short term, but may not work in the long term for longevity and optimum health (which is what most of us really want!)
Common sense tells us to look at the trends that have been trending not just for a few months in magazines to create profits, but rather have been trending for thousands of years and practiced by people all around the world. Aside from running and swimming, there are few truly ancient practices that are still practiced today in their purest form, but it is still possible to find classical teachings of these exercises and they are worth our curiosity and exploration.
The sun salutation (or Surya Namaskar) is one of the oldest known exercise sequences, dating back at least 5,000 years, originating in India. This series of postures has benefits that go way beyond just the tremendous physical benefits. This is the perfect weight loss exercise for beginners, experienced fitness lovers and even offers noticeable benefits for professional athletes and Olympians. It can be used as a warm up for your workout, or simply to start your day.
One of the main reasons why the sun salutation holds so many more benefits than modern warm ups is because it coordinates breathing with movement. The sun salutation is a series of 12 flexion and extension postures, linked together as one fluid movement, with a rhythm set by the natural pattern of the breath.
In addition to being the perfect weight loss exercise for beginners since it calms and settles the mind, it has immense physiological benefits that have been acknowledged for thousands of years.
First, the body is flexed and extended during these 12 postures, which directly affects the organs. The organs of the pelvis, abdomen, and chest are deeply massaged.
Second, the sequence is extremely therapeutic for the spine, taking it through many ranges of motion: lengthening, flexion, extension, lateral bending, compression, and rotation. This breaks up any tension, loosens the muscles, protects against muscle spasms, and expands the range of motion with each cycle of the sequence.
But this is only the beginning. It is actually the addition of the breath that enhances the routine so tremendously. As the breath is coordinated with the flexion and extension of the spine, the effects of the sun salutation are considerably enhanced. Not only does the addition of the breath increase general flexibility, but it allows for greater range of motion, more direct oxygen flow into the lungs, and the release of stagnant air at the bottom of the lungs.
During the contraction of the diaphragm (the inhale), the sun salutation posture is always one of extension. This means the diaphragm is contracted downward, so it provides a deep internal massage for the diaphragm and muscles of the rib cage. This allows for even deeper breaths to be taken afterward.
As if these benefits aren’t enough, the sun salutations are perfect examples of peripheral neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). This technique is commonly used by trainers to increase the flexibility of certain muscle groups. Athletes will practice this for an hour before competitions, and trainers will train athletes to do so. PNF is based on the principle that if you want to make a muscle group more flexible, you must contract it before you stretch it. This is the exact formula for every major muscle group in the sun salute.
The sun salutation is a complete exercise in itself, and actually GIVES you energy rather than depletes it. It is an exercise that energizes, and also holds a whole host of other benefits as listed in Mind, Body, Sport by John Douillard, former professional athlete and trainer/consultant to professional athletes. According to Douillard and many other experts, the sun salutations also boast the following benefits:
- Deeply massages the internal organs
- Takes the spine through the entire range of motion
- Breaks adhesions and spasms in the rib cage that inhibit deep nasal diaphragmatic breathing
- Coordinates movement and breath, and prepares the body for physical activity
- Increases strength, flexibility, and endurance of every major muscle group in the body
- Naturally reproduces the PNF technique, whether you use it before or after exercise, or as the exercise itself
- Improves circulation and energy levels
If you’re looking to practice the sun salutations, there are many resources available to learn the basics. You can follow a video, steps in a book, or you can visit a local yoga studio. No matter where you learn it, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:
- Breathe slowly and deeply
- Move slowly
- Lengthen as much as you can during all of the extension postures
- Exhale fully during the flexion postures
- Breathe through the nose
- Take every posture slowly, to the limit of a comfortable stretch
The sun salutations are an amazing weight loss routine that you can practice every day for optimal health. Pay attention to how your body feels before you begin the sun salutations and then tune in with yourself again after you’ve finished to notice the difference. Practice every day and they will become easier each time. Keep it up!
Katie Papo is a Yoga Instructor and Fitness Coach for Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts. Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts offers a life-changing destination weight loss resort program intended for guests determined to live happier and healthier lives. This weight loss resort program is designed to be both fun and challenging while allowing time for rest and reflection in a beautiful vacation resort location with amenities you’d expect from a luxury resort.
The program is offered at Honor’s Haven Resort & Spa which is situated on 250 acres in a scenic valley surrounded by the Catskills Mountains – a serene place to spend time, relax, regroup and lose weight. It is priced all-inclusively which covers taxes, lodging, meals, fitness classes, personal training and coaching, education and even follow-up counseling after you’ve returned home.
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SUN SALUTATIONS FOR COMPLETE BEGINNERS