To me a sun salutation is the foundation of a yoga practice. I like to flow on the mat and move with the breath. The sun salutation is a great way to build up the inner fire and start creating that heat (energy) which warms up the body from the inside.
My yoga practice always consists of many sun salutations and from there I move into other asanas (poses). Once you start doing a proper sun salutation, you’ll notice the energy it gives you and you'll want to do them more often.
How to do Surya Namaskar A
In this article I’ll explain how to do Sun Salutation A, also known as Surya Namaskar A in sanskrit, and share a few tips about the postures.
Come on to the front of your mat and stand in mountain pose. Feet grounded on the floor, big toes together and heels slightly apart. Stand tall and feel the crown of your head reaching to the sky. With your inhale, take your arms up and make yourself long. Reach for the sky and look up.
Exhale and fold all the way down into a forward fold. Bring your hands on the mat next to your feet and bend the knees if necessary. Relax the back of your neck and shoulders and bring your forehead as close to your knees as possible. With your next inhale, lengthen the spine and come half way up into a flat back. Make sure to activate your thighs and lift up the knee caps.
Use your exhale to step with your right leg back into plank, followed by the left leg. For a more advanced practice, try jumping back with both legs and use your core to land as softly as possible.
Note: In this sequence I demonstrate the right side. A complete sun salutation is done on both sides.
In high plank, make sure your shoulders are above your wrists and push back into your heels. Activate your core and push the mat away from you so you don't sink in to your shoulders. Use your inhale to align yourself in high plank and prepare yourself for Chaturanga. Exhale, bend the elbows and lower down into low plank. Work towards a 90° angle with your arms. Your shoulders should align with the elbows and the elbows should be above the wrists.
From low plank, curl over your toes and inhale to Cobra. Press the tops of your feet into the mat and point your toes backwards. Use your arms to lift up the chest, move the shoulders back towards the spine and open up your heart. For a more advanced practice, come in to Upward-facing dog. Press down on the balls of your feet, engage your thighs and lift up the upper thighs and knees from the mat. Look up and move back into a mini backbend.
Tuck your toes and use your core to come up into Downward-facing dog. Stretch your back and open up the shoulders by moving them away from your ears. Relax your head down and release any tension in your neck. Stay here for a few full breaths. From here, bring your right leg forward between your hands, followed by the left leg. For a little challenge, bend your knees and hop to the front of the mat.
Coming back to the front of the mat, either with a step or a jump, inhale half way up into flat back. Stretch the spine and with your next exhale curl down over your legs into forward fold (again, bend knees if necessary).
Take a deep inhale and rise all the way up to the sky, reaching up with your fingers. Make yourself tall but don't forget to stay grounded with your feet on the mat. Exhale, lower your palms down in front of your heart.
Taking time to learn the proper poses of the sun salutation is important to stay healthy in your practice and avoid any injuries. In yoga, the goal is to really listen to your body, so be aware of the sensations of your body before, during and after the practice. Always go as deep into a pose as it feels comfortable.
Sun salutations are a good way to warm up the body and move with the breath. Do a few sun salutations at the beginning of your asana practice (5x) or use it as a full body workout (10x).
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