Surya Namaskar, or sun salutation, is the most popular dynamic sequence of asanas that are coordinated with the breath. There are many variations of surya namaskar. The traditional sequence of 12 movements can be performed slowly or rapidly.
In the International Journal of Yoga, India, web publication date September 27, 2011, researchers have published a study of the physiological effects of slow and fast surya namaskar that included 42 school children in India, ages 12-16 years. The children were split into two groups of 21–one group was trained in slow surya namaskars (SSN) and the other in fast surya namaskars (FSN) for six months.
The study found the following results:
“Training in SSN produced a significant decrease in diastolic pressure. In contrast, training in FSN produced a significant increase in systolic pressure. Although there was a highly significant increase in isometric hand grip (IHG) strength and hand grip endurance (HGE) in both the groups, the increase in HGE in FSN group was significantly more than in SSN group. Pulmonary function tests showed improvements in both the groups though intergroup comparison showed no significance difference. Maximum inspiratory pressure (MIP) and maximum expiratory pressure increased significantly in both the groups with increase of MIP in FSN group being more significant than in SSN.”
In addition to the positive physiological effects, the study found that the effect of FSN was that of a physical aerobic workout and that of SSN was that of yogic training.
Source: Bhavanani AB, Udupa K, Madanmohan, Ravindra PN. A comparative study of slow and fast surya namaskar on physiological function. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2011 [cited 2011 Oct 15];4:71-6. Available from: http://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2011/4/2/71/85489