Sun Salutation A
Sanskrit: Surya Namaskar A
Photo of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
The traditional Sun Salutation A Sequence is the most common and widely used Vinyasa out there today. (Click on the image to the right to see larger in a higher resolution.) Literally translated as “bow to the sun”. This sequence is great if you have low energy or poor circulation. As yoga teachers we will build off of this sequence into more dynamic or complex sequences to focus on certain areas of the body for our goals in each individual class. As with all Vinyasa flows, each time you flow through this sequence, synchronize your breath with your movements.
Even the most experienced Yogi and Yogini have difficulty with some of the poses held in the Sun Salutation. You may modify this sequence, for example, by placing the knees down on the mat for Chaturanga and Runners Lunge (low lunge) or skipping Chaturanga completely if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This sequence is great for warming up the entire body, as well as strengthening and stretching. It is recommended to we practice at least six rounds of the Sun Salutation daily, preferably in the morning when we are more energized.
“One of the means of honoring the sun is through the dynamic asana sequence Surya Namaskar (better known as Sun Salutation). The Sanskrit word namaskar stems from namas, which means “to bow to” or “to adore.” (The familiar phrase we use to close our yoga classes, namaste — te means “you” — also comes from this root.) Each Sun Salutation begins and ends with the joined-hands mudra (gesture) touched to the heart. This placement is no accident; only the heart can know the truth.” ~ Yogajournal.com
Directions on how to come into this sequence:
Please, also, click on the image above to follow along visually how to come into this pose. For full text directions read below. Also, click on the individual pose links for a deeper look and direction into each pose:
1. To begin, stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with Anjali Mudra contemplating the sun or light of awareness in your heart. Distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Establish a slow, steady rhythm for your breath. Find your center.
2. Next, inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and overhead into Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute). Reach your heart and arms to the heavens, sending your greeting to the sun.
3. 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. Exhale, step right foot back, Runners Lunge. Left knee directly over the left ankle, back leg straight, toes curled under. Firm thighs and glutes, extend from rear heel to crown.
5. Exhale and step left foot 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. Back is straight like a board, wrists, elbows, shoulders in alignment. Firm glutes and press into the palms, heels and crown. Take a full breath in as you lengthen through your spine.
6. Exhale and lower into Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) (or modified Chaturanga Dandasana by placing knees down first), keeping your legs straight and pushing back into your heels or bringing your knees to the floor. Elbows are in towards the body and sternum is between the thumbs. Build heat in the center of your body as you hold this challenging posture.
7. 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.
8. 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 five breaths.
9. Inhale, right foot runners lunge, Runners Lunge. Right knee directly over the right ankle, back leg straight, toes curled under. Firm thighs and glutes, extend from rear heel to crown.
10. Exhale back to Forward Fold (Uttanasana), surrendering into the fold.
11. Inhale, reverse swan dive up , reaching your arms out wide to your sides and coming to stand through a flat back. Feel a renewed sense of energy as you draw your arms overhead into Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Hastasana).
12. Exhale and return to Mountain (Tadasana), your home base, hands at your heart in Anjali Mudra. Remain here for a few breaths, feeling the movement of energy through your body, or continue on to your next salute.
When not to do this sequence or to modify/Contraindications:
Contraindications and modifications for each individual pose within the Sun Salutation A sequence can be found on their individual pose pages (as linked above).
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