Sun Salutation A Yoga (Surya Namaskar A)

  1. Pranamasana or Tadasana: Begin the sequence by joining the palms in namaste, close to your chest and have your feet placed together and stand close to the edge of the mat. Closing your eyes, take a few breaths, expanding the abdominal muscles and the upper chest slowly as you inhale and contract the chest exhaling through the nose. Calm the breath by taking it deep and slow with awareness.
  2. Urdhva Hastasana or Upward Hand Pose: Inhale, bringing your arms out to the sides and then joining the palms above your head in Urdhva Hastasana and bring the gaze to your palms raised above you and ensure the shoulders are away from your ears.
  3. Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend Pose: As you exhale, stretch the arms from above the head and bending at the hips, gradually go forward with the torso and bend to reach for the feet with the hands. Place the palms on the floor outside and close to your feet and exhale completely.
  4. Beginner Tip: Placing a yoga block besides your feet to keep the palms or bending the knees a bit to reach for the floor with your hands. But ensure the alignment is perfect without also straining the lower back.

  5. Ardha Uttanasana or Half Forward Bend Pose: As you inhale, from Uttanasana, lift your head and chest and look ahead of you while extending the crown of your head, still pressing the fingers or the entire palm towards the floor close to your feet.
  6. Beginner Tips: While this pose will bring a great stretch to the hamstrings and the neck, one could use blocks for the hands to make the posture comfortable.

  7. Chaturanga Dandasana or Four Limbed Staff Pose: Through exhalation bring one foot at a time and place them behind you next to each other or you could jump back bending the elbows and bring the entire body close to the floor and yet not touching the floor in Chaturanga Dandasana. Here the body will balance on the bent elbows and the shoulders, ensuring the entire body is completely stretched out.
  8. Beginner Tip: While this pose is hard on the shoulders and the elbows, one could place the knees on the floor to begin with, or even place a yoga block for the forehead. But make sure the spine is straight and stretched out.

  9. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Upward Facing Dog Pose: While you inhale, lift the chest out and up expanding the shoulder blades and throw the head back in a backbend feeling the stretch at the neck while the rest of the body remains parallel to the floor without touching the floor. The body weight is more at the shoulders and the arms.
  10. Beginner Tip: If one is not used to this pose for new learners, then the simplest way would be to go into full Cobra Pose, resting the thighs on the floor and taking the chest and the neck in a slight backbend.

  11. Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog Pose: From Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, inhale and as you you take the body upwards pressing the palms on the floor and straightening the legs out completely, press the chest close towards the floor while bringing the face down ensuring the lower back goes higher upwards, exhale completely.
  12. Beginner Tip: If bringing the legs stretched out completely is a challenge, bend the knees as per the body comfort and don’t push the shoulders too much. Relax the neck and the arms by reducing the distance between the feet and the palms.

  13. Ardha Uttanasana or Half Forward Bend Pose: Ending the sequence, inhale and bring the feet close to each other near your palms, stretching the hips upwards and open the chest and the crown of the head upwards in Ardha Uttanasana.
  14. Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend Pose: Exhale and take the head down close to your knees and stretch the hamstrings and the calves in the full forward bend while still placing the palms on the floor close to your feet.
  15. Urdhva Hastasana or Upward Hand Pose: Inhale and raise the arms upwards and bring the torso back up and straight while the arms are stretched up above you. Make sure the shoulders are not too close to your ears. For better benefit gaze at the palms raised upwards.
  16. Tadasana or Pranamasana: From Urdhva Hastasana, exhale and bring the arms back either in namaste with the palms close to your chest or down close to your side body in Tadasana.

For beginners, the entire sequence of 11 steps could be done in 6 rounds of three pairs. Ensuring the breathing is right which will eventually help in building flexibility in the muscles. At the advance level one could practice this sequence of Sun Salutations for about 24 rounds of 12 pairs or more depending on the body strength and the lung capacity. One could also essentially consider practicing this sequence as a warm up before the start of the class for any particular style of yoga.