The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskara (SOOR-yuh nah-muh-SKAR-uh), is a series of poses performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement. Each pose coordinates with your breathing: Inhale to extend, and exhale to bend. Sun Salutations build heat in the body and are often used as warm-up sequences for a yoga practice. The components of a Sun Salutation also make up a "vinyasa" — the series of movements used between poses in Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power Yoga. Follow the steps below and familiarize yourself with the essential components of the A Series of Sun Salutations!
Sun Salutation A — Surya Namaskara A
There are many variations of Sun Salutations. The sequence presented below is often referred to as "Sun Salutation A" (Surya Namaskara A). It includes the basic components of a Sun Salutation as understood in most styles of yoga. Always breathe through your nose only, as this warms the air and provides a meditative aspect to your practice. If you're struggling to breathe, ease up a bit. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Press your palms together in prayer position. Rest your thumbs on your sternum and take several breaths.
Inhale as you sweep your arms out to the side and overhead. Gently arch your back and gaze toward the sky.
Exhale as you fold forward from the hips. Bend your knees if necessary. Rest your hands beside your feet and bring your nose to your knees.
Inhale as you lift your torso halfway, lengthening your spine forward so your back is flat. Your torso should be parallel to the floor. Keep your fingertips on the floor, or bring them to your shins.
Exhale as you step or jump back into Plank Pose (High Push-Up Pose), with your hands under your shoulders and feet hip-distance apart. Continue exhaling as you lower your body toward the floor. Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides. If needed, come to your knees for Half Chaturanga. Otherwise, keep your legs straight and reach back through your heels.
Inhale as you draw your chest forward and straighten your arms. Draw your shoulders back and lift your heart to the sky. Press through the tops of your feet, lifting your thighs off the floor and fully engaging your leg muscles. Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides.
Exhale as you lift your hips and roll over your toes, placing the soles of your feet on the floor. Your heels do not need to touch the ground. Ground down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine. Lift your belly and sit bones toward the sky. Stay here for five breaths. On your last exhalation, bend your knees and look between your hands.
Inhale as you step or jump both feet between your hands. Lift your torso halfway, lengthening your spine forward so your back is flat. Your torso should be parallel to the floor. Keep your fingertips on the floor, or bring them to your shins.
Exhale as you fold your torso over your thighs. Bend your knees if necessary. Rest your hands beside your feet and bring your nose to your knees.
Inhale as you sweep your arms out to the side and extend up once again. Gently arch your back and gaze toward the sky.
Exhale as you come back into Mountain Pose. Bring your hands into prayer position. Rest your thumbs on your sternum. Repeat the sequence two or more times.
By now, you should be pretty well warmed-up and ready to move on with the rest of your practice. If you'd like to warm up even further, try some rounds of Sun Salutation B or Sun Salutation C. Even if you're not ready for a full practice session, you can use Sun Salutations as an energizing break in your day! Have fun with it and enjoy the warmth.