Humans have been honoring the sun for years, and for good reason: It brings warmth and light. And the Sun Salutations you’ll find in yoga classes can deliver similar benefits to your body. A combination of high and low stretches, the postures that make up these ubiquitous sequences loosen nearly every muscle in your body, and can warm you up for any sort of workout. They’re also excellent for gently releasing tight hip and shoulder joints, along with a sore back. As for the light: Sun Salutations simply feel good—and that can brighten any type of day.
The following poses make up Sun Salutation A, which is the most basic variation of the sequence. Listen to your body, and perform as many repetitions as you’d like.
To begin, stand at attention, with feet hip-distance, and palms together in front of your chest.
Inhale, and raise your arms toward the sky, moving into Mountain Pose (with a salute). Root your feet into the mat, and engage your quadriceps.
Standing Forward Fold
Exhale, and bend forward from your hips, into Standing Forward Fold. Allow your head and neck to release.
Inhale, pull your abs in, and lift your torso half-way up, into Half-Way Lift, creating a flat back and elongated spine. You can rest your palms gently on your shins.
Get into a Plank position, and shift your body forward two inches.
Exhale, and move into Chaturanga. Lower your body toward the floor, bending your elbows no more than 90 degrees. Keep your elbows close to your body as you lower down.
Upward Facing Dog
Inhale, and perform Upward Facing Dog. Flip your feet, so that the tops are pressed into your mat, and press your body up, straightening your arms, and shining your chest forward. Thighs should be lifted off the mat.
Downward Facing Dog
Exhale, and press your hips back into Downward Facing Dog. You’ll need to switch your foot position to get into it.
Inhale, and step forward toward your hands, into a Half-Way Lift.
Standing Forward Fold
Exhale, and perform a Standing Forward Fold.
Inhale, rising up into Mountain Pose, bringing your hands toward the sky.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.
Lara Rosenbaum is a writer, certified fitness trainer, and dog lover with a serious passion for the outdoors. Formerly Fitbit’s fitness editor, Lara has held editorial positions at several magazines, including Women’s Health, where she was the founding fitness editor. Lara is also a former elite athlete, and has traveled the world as a member of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team.