The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskara (SOOR-yuh nah-muh-SKAR-uh), is a sequence of yoga poses performed in a particular order to build heat in the body. They are often used as warm-up sequences for a yoga practice. Each movement is coordinated with your breath: Inhale as you extend, and exhale as you bend. The poses included in a Sun Salutation make up a "vinyasa," which is the sequence of movements used between poses in Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power Yoga.
Sun Salutations vary between traditions, but include many of the same basic components. The sequence presented below is often referred to as Sun Salutation C (Surya Namaskara C). Make sure you're breathing through your nose when you practice; this helps warm the air entering your body. Breathing through your nose also helps to calm your mind, making your practice meditative. If you're having trouble breathing, slow down and be gentler with your movements. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
Sun Salutation C — Surya Namaskara C
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 your right foot back. Keep your fingertips and left heel on the ground. Reach back through your right heel. Beginners can place the right knee on the ground.
Inhale as you step your left foot back, coming into Plank Pose (also known as High Push-Up Pose). Spread your fingers and align your wrists directly under your shoulders. Your feet should be hip-distance apart. Draw back through your heels and lengthen your spine.
Exhale as you lower your knees to the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in toward your sides. Keeping your hips lifted off the floor and palms flat, bring your chest and chin to the floor. Place your chest between your hands.
Inhale as you draw your chest forward, keeping your hands underneath your shoulders. Extend your legs along the floor and un-tuck your toes. Draw your shoulders back and lift your chest slightly. Keep your lower ribs on the floor.
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 soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine. Lift your belly and sit bones to the sky. Stay here for five breaths. On your last exhalation, bend your knees and look between your hands.
Inhale as you step your right foot between your hands, coming into a lunge on the opposite side. Keep your fingertips and right heel on the ground. Reach back through your left heel. Beginners can place the left knee on the ground.
Exhale as you step your left foot forward, coming back into the Forward Fold. 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, stepping back with your left foot first this time.
Warm It Up
Use several rounds of Sun Salutations to warm up before delving deeper into your practice. You may want to add in a few rounds of Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B, as well. Take a break in your day and do some Sun Salutations for a quick energy boost! As you gain strength and flexibility, your practice will continually progress over time.