Surya (Sun) Namaskara (Salutation)

If you ever visited a Yoga class, you may have practiced a Sun Salutation already. Usually, this is the warm-up in each class. There are different variations of Surya Namaskara. The most common ones are the Surya Namaskara A, Surya Namaskara B (Both most common in Vinyasa Yoga), and Surya Namaskara Hatha, practiced in Hatha Yoga. 

The Hatha tradition uses different names for the Asanas than the Vinyasa tradition. Masters have seen different animals or objects, which is why the names can change.

Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is a set of 12 powerful yoga asanas (postures) which provide a great cardiovascular workout. It’s also a great way to stay fit and retain peace of mind and soul.

The dynamic group of Asanas effectively stretches, massages, and tones all the joints, muscles, and internal organs of the body. 

Its versatility and application make it one of the most useful methods of inducing healthy, vigorous, and active life while at the same time preparing for spiritual awakening. 

A Sun Salutation Sequence includes the whole practice of Pranayama, asana, and mantra meditation techniques. It is a great sequence to start a morning yoga practice. 

Surya Namaskar generates Prana, the energy which activates the physical body. In a steady rhythmic performance, a sun salutation reflects the aspects of the universe. The twenty-four hours of a day, the twelve zodiac phases of the year, and the body’s biorhythms. 

Universe Yoga

In yoga the sun is represented by pingala or surya nadi, the pranic channel which carries the vital, life giving force.

Postures in a sun salutation strengthen the back, supports the balance of metabolism, and stimulate and balance the body systems, including the reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. Furthermore, it calms down the mind and reduces stress levels. It helps to feel more at ease/peace, rested, and refreshed.

The ideal time to practice is at sunrise or sunset, during the most peaceful times of the day, facing the sun. The stomach should be empty when practicing. 

The poses involved in a sun salutation depend on which variation you’re performing—sun salutation A contains fewer poses and is often the go-to for beginners. In comparison, sun salutation B contains a longer sequence of slightly more challenging poses, such as chair pose and warrior I. Both sequences are designed to engage, stretch, and invigorate the whole body while focusing on meditative breathing. So whichever you opt for, you’ll reap a bounty of benefits.

How to perform Surya Namaskara A

Surya Namaskara A is a slightly easier sequence, compared to Sury Namaskara B, or the Hatha Sun Salutation, and hence great to begin with when familiar with the order of asanas.

Samasthiti or Tadasana 

Tadasana (Standing! Mountain Pose or Tree Pose) is the posture that invokes Samadhi. These poses are not different. They are the same.

Stand with your feet together and your arms at your side. Distribute your weight evenly between your feet and turn your palms to face forward in Tadasana. Let yourself come to a slow, steady breath. You can bring your hand together in the prayer pose – Anjali Mudra. 

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) 

Inhale and sweep your arms straight to the sides and up alongside your ears into Urdhva Hastasana. Your palms should face one another, and you can bring them to touch if desired. Reach your heart and arms toward the sun. If you like, you can gaze slightly upward and even take a slight backend, lifting your chest and leaning your upper body slightly back.

Uttanasana A (Standing Forward Bend) 

Exhale and bend forward at your hips, bringing your chest to your thighs. Keep your legs strong by drawing your knees toward your hips. Let your shoulders and neck relax. Your hands can rest on your shins, ankles, or blocks in Uttanasana.

Uttanasana B or Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing/Upward Forward Bend)

Inhale as you lift your chest parallel to the mat in Ardha Uttanasana. (As the pose’s name implies, you’ll be halfway to standing.) Draw your shoulder blades away from your ears and lengthen through your back. You can keep your palms or fingertips on the floor or bring them to your shins or blocks.

Phalakasana (Plank Pose) 

Exhale and step your feet back into Plank Pose, which is essentially the top of a push-up. Align your body, so your shoulders are directly over your wrists, your palms are flat on the mat, and your feet are hip distance apart. (Lower your knees to the mat if you ache in your low back, shoulders, or arms.) Gaze down and slightly forward, keeping the back of your neck long. Inhale and lengthen through your back.

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) 

Exhale and bend your elbows as you slowly lower your entire body, keeping yourself as straight as a wood plank. Hug your elbows toward your sides and pause when you find a right angle between your upper and lower arms. Gaze down and slightly forward. You’ll find yourself building heat as you hold this challenging posture. (If your knees were on the mat in Plank Pose, simply keep them there and lower your upper body.)

Urdhva Mukha Svananasa (Upward-Facing Dog) 

Inhale and draw your chest forward and up as you roll forward over your toes onto the tops of your feet into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Press the tops of your toes into the mat and keep your legs strong but relax your gluteal muscles. Pull your shoulders back and broaden through your collarbones. Gaze straight ahead or slightly up. (Instead of rolling over your toes, you can lift and place your feet, one at a time, on the mat. If this backbend feels too intense, instead come into Cobra Pose – Bhujhangasana.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Doward-Facing Dog) 

Exhale as you lift your hips up and back, coming into Downward-Facing Dog. Press down through your knuckles, lengthen your back, and release your heels toward the mat. (Don’t worry if your heels don’t touch the mat. Just let your heels feel heavy. If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees as much as needed.) Stretch from the strength of your hands and legs, evenly distributed. Remain here for several breaths

Uttanasana B or Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing/Upward Forward Bend)

Inhale and lift your chest halfway to standing in Ardha Uttanasana.

Uttanasana A (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhale and bend forward at your hips into Uttanasana.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) 

Inhale and reach your arms to the sides and overhead into Urdhva Hastasana again.

Samasthiti or Tadasana 

Exhale and return to Tadasana with your hands in prayer at your heart or your sides. Continue with another Sun Salutation or remain here for a few breaths, feeling and experiencing.


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