Sun Salutation is the most significant all-rounder exercise.
WHEN YOU INTEGRATE Sun Salutations into your practice, you will learn how to achieve mental focus and core fitness, allowing for development in all body regions to come together as one. Stretching, balance, mobility, and attention will help your body regulate blood circulation, allowing more oxygen to reach your muscles and raising your overall energy level.
'Sun Salutations' is an excellent method to calm our wandering thoughts, binding your breath to each movement and associating a breath with it: inhale when going up, exhale when going down. It's about establishing a connection with your core and vertical alignment. It combines attention, alignment, proprioception, coordination, and concentration.
Random thoughts can get in the way; this is when we focus on breathing to bring ourselves back to the present. With practice, this routine will become more relaxed and confident.
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
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. Find your centre as you bring your palms together at the centre of your chest in Anjali Mudra (also known as Salutation Seal or, quite simply, prayer hands).
2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Inhale and sweep your arms straight 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.
3. Uttanasana (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.
4. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing 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.
5. 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 lower back, shoulders, or arms.) Gaze down and slightly forward, keeping the back of your neck long. Inhale and lengthen through your back.
6. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
Exhale and bend your elbows as you slowly lower your entire body, keeping yourself as straight as a plank of wood. 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, keep them there and lower your upper body.)
7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Inhale and draw your chest forward and onto the tops of your feet into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. Press the tops of your toes into the mat, keep your legs strong, and relax your gluteal muscles. Pull your shoulders back and broaden through your collarbones. Gaze straight ahead or slightly up. If this backbend feels too intense, come into Cobra Pose.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
Exhale as you lift your hips up and back, coming into Downward-Facing Dog. Press down through your knuckles, lengthen through 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.) Remain here for several breaths.
9. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
At the end of your exhale and just before you inhale, step your left foot forward between your hands into Anjaneyasana. Quickly bring your right foot forward next to your left. If you’re doing more than a single round of Surya Namaskar A, alternate which foot you step forward first with each round.
10. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
Inhale and lift your chest halfway to standing in Ardha Uttanasana.
11. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Exhale and bend forward at your hips into Uttanasana.
12. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Inhale and reach your arms overhead into Urdhva Hastasana once again.
13. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Exhale and return to Tadasana with your hands in prayer at your heart or sides. Continue with another Sun Salutation or remain here for a few breaths, feeling and experiencing.