How to do Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A)

The Sun Salutations build the foundation for your yoga practice. Even when you are pressed for time you can spend just 5 minutes doing Surya Namaskar A to feel rejuvenated and renewed.

Surya Namaskar A is the beginning sequence of poses in the Ashtanga method. Surya is the Sanskrit word for sun. Namaskar means greeting. In English, this sequence of poses is often referred to as Sun Salutations.

Practicing Surya Namaskar A ignites your internal fire, building heat in your body to prepare you for your practice. The combination of deep resonant breath and movement used while moving through this sequence is a key element to the Ashtanga method.

There are 3 variations of the Sun Salutation, A, B, and C. Today we’ll take a close look at A. We’ll break down each individual posture in the sequence and how to breathe when moving from one posture to the next.

Before you begin take a moment to ground yourself. Take a few deep breaths and set the intention for your practice.

Samasthiti

Start in standing in a neutral position. This is called Samasthiti. Stand with your big toes touching so your feet are parallel to each other. Your hands are at your sides.

Urdhva Hastasana

From Samasthiti inhale and raise your hands above your head. Bring your palms together over your head. Your arms are straight. Look up at your thumbs.

Uttanasana A

Exhale and fold over your legs, reaching your arms toward the floor. This is a forward bend.

Uttanasana B

Inhale head up and flatten your back. Find the length in your spine.

Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale step or jump back into a push-up position. Find the strength in your shoulder and core. Bend your arms, keeping your elbows close to the body, and lower yourself to the floor.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Inhale upward facing dog. Your toes are pointed. The tops of your feet press into the ground. Your legs are active so your knees and thighs are up off the floor.

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Exhale and lift your middle. Roll your toes over and come to downward facing dog. Your feet are hip-width apart. Your hands are shoulder-width apart. Your knees are straight, heels coming down into the ground, and your tailbone lifting toward the ceiling. Your shoulder blades are down on your back. Your arms straight but your elbows relaxed. Your neck is relaxed. Your gaze is toward your navel. Stay here for five deep controlled breaths.

Uttanasana B

Inhale and step or jump toward your hands, half lift. Flatten your back, finding length in the spine.

Uttanasana A

Exhale forward fold.

Urdhva Hastasana

Inhale stand bring your hands over the head. Press your palms together above your head. Look up at the thumbs.

Samasthiti

Exhale return to your neutral standing position, Samasthiti.

If you are new to yoga repeat that two more times. If you feel like you have the energy to do so repeat it 4 more times making a total of 5 times.

Here’s an example of what the full practice looks like when strung together.

The Sun Salutations build the foundation for your yoga practice. Even when you are pressed for time you can spend just 5 minutes doing Surya Namaskar A to feel rejuvenated and renewed. As you do these motions again and again, they will become second nature to you.

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Photo by Tamara Baleika