Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar, are traditionally performed in the morning to greet the new day. This sequence of postures can be a complete practice in itself or can prepare you for a longer asana routine. Sun Salutes are often performed in sets of five, but if you are new to the practice, it’s wise to begin with two or three. Each time you flow through this sequence, synchronize your breath with the movements of your body.
1. Start Surya Namaskar with Mountain Pose with Hands in Prayer
To begin, stand in Tadasana Namaskar (Mountain Pose with Hands in Prayer). Distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Establish a slow, steady rhythm for your breath. Find your center.
2. Mountain Pose, Arm Overhead
Next, inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and overhead into Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana. Reach your heart and arms to the heavens, sending your greeting to the sun.
3. Standing Forward Bend
As you exhale, hollow out your belly and fold into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), connecting down into the earth. Keep your legs firmly engaged.
4. Half Standing Forward Bend
Inhale and lengthen your spine forward into Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend). In this pose, the gaze is lifted, the spine is extended, and the fingertips can stay on the floor or rise to the shins.
5. Standing Forward Bend
Exhale, hollow out your belly and fold back into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Inhale.
6. Plank Pose
On your next exhalation, step or lightly hop your feet back behind you into Plank Pose. Your wrists should be flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart, and your feet should be at hip distance. Take a full breath in as you lengthen through your spine.
7. Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Exhale and lower into Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), keeping your legs straight and pushing back into your heels or bringing your knees to the floor. Build heat in the center of your body as you hold this challenging posture.
8. Upward-Facing Dog
Inhale and carve your chest forward into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog), directing that energy out from your heart. Pull your shoulders back and open your collarbones. Engage your legs but relax your gluteal muscles.
9. Downward-Facing Dog
Exhale and roll over the toes, coming into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Ground down through your hands and feet as you lengthen your spine. Remain here for several breaths.
Step the left foot forward on an inhalation into Lunge. If you struggle to bring your foot smoothly and completely forward, bend your knees to the floor right after Downward Dog, step forward between the hands, then straighten the back knee into Lunge.
11. Mountain Pose
Exhale and return to Tadasana, your home base. Remain here for a few breaths, feeling the movement of energy through your body, or continue on to your next salute.