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Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation Basics


Step-by-step Sun Salutations

If our body is a crystallization of our thoughts words, deeds, diet and DNA, then we must recondition it regularly to continually enhance the alignment within all layers of our Being.

Yoga and Ayurveda offer many practices to address and harmonize our outer world with our inner world. A gentle practice of surya namaskar or sun salutations are an excellent approach to begin with to support a regular mindful-living discipline in our daily lives. We can invest as much time as we want in practicing them because we can get through many rounds somewhat swiftly. This practice will increase our general physical energy and help to neutralize mental energy; allowing us to return to the world with fresh eyes and revitalized enthusiasm. Sun salutations are accessible to the majority of the population and they can be modified in a multitude of ways.

Here we will share a very simple and accessible approach to a preliminary sun salutation that you can practice 3 to 5 times or more throughout the day.

We can utilize sun salutations to symmetrically lengthen or shorten, expand or contract the majority of our body while harmonizing our breath to each movement. Before we begin endeavoring asymmetrical asanas it’s of utmost importance that we seek to bring both sides of the body into harmony. Every activity that we pursue results in asymmetrical movement patterns that are important to compensate for in some way. There are many useful ways to go about doing this and sun salutations are at the top of our list as one of the practices to negotiate balance back to our physical body. And of course the benefits go deeper because all physical yoga gives us insight into aspects beyond biomechanics and into the realm of our inner world.

Before we delve into any of that we should practice our sun salutations and become firmly established in their practice before moving on to different asanas and deeper limbs of Yoga.

Surya Namaskar- The Practice

  • Begin with your feet touching or hip distance apart;
  • Stand equally balanced, elegant and easeful;
  • Inhale, lift the hands up wide overhead, lifting your gaze as you do so, connecting and softly pressing the hands together;
  • Exhale, bend the knees and fold forward, press your palms and feet into the floor, tucking the chin, pressing shoulders towards the hips;
  • Inhale, lifting the head, lengthening the spine, shifting the hips slightly behind the heels while grounding into the feet and hands or fingers;
  • Exhale, step or jump both feet back to the high plank. Broaden the shoulders, level the torso, distributing the weight between legs, torso and hands;
  • Inhale, set the knees down, grounding into the points of contact with the mat, hips and shoulders gently pressing toward one another;
  • Exhale, keeping the elbows in near the ribs and above the wrists, lower the torso to the floor;
  • Inhale, reach your arms forward in front of you, lengthen both sides of the torso;
  • Exhale, relax the forehead down, lengthen the neck;
  • Inhale, lift your gaze upward, pressing the hips softly down and forward against the floor, dragging the palms gently backwards towards the shoulders;
  • Exhale, release the torso to the floor, lengthening arms, resting forehead down;
  • Inhale, bring the palms beneath the shoulders, elbows in toward the ribs;
  • Exhale, press into the hands knees and feet, lifting up to kneeling plank;
  • Inhale, straighten the legs to the high plank, broaden shoulder blades, distribute weight betweens legs, torso and arms, face relaxed;
  • Exhale, lift the hips to the downdog, adjusting hands and feet in line with shoulders and hips;
  • Hold for 5 gentle but deep breaths. Gently assist the abdominal muscles as you exhale, breathing into the abdomen then into the chest as you inhale, lengthening both sides of the torso. Ground into the hands and feet, pressing through the hips, no tension in the face;
  • Exhale, walk step or jump feet to hands;
  • Inhale, lifting the head, lengthening the spine, shifting the hips slightly behind the heels while grounding into the feet and hands or fingers;
  • Exhale, bend the knees and fold forward, press your palms and feet into the floor. Tuck the chin, shoulders gently press towards hips;
  • Inhale, bend knees gently, standing upright by bringing shoulders over knees, then hips, lifting the hands up overhead. Fully straightening the legs, allowing the gaze to follow upward, gently pressing the palms together;
  • Exhale, lowering your hands together through the Heart center, then separating, to rest beside the body.

Some important components to consider during surya namaskar or your asana practice as a whole:

  • remain steady but intentional throughout all held positions and transitions;
  • synchronize your movements with your breath;
  • utilize your gaze points to trap your attention further.
When all of these things work in concert we concentrate our energy in a very refined way which allows us to bring stillness to our mind through our body and our breath. We also increase our cardiovascular health stimulating fresh energy throughout the entirety of the body. There is also ample opportunity to work through many conditioned patterns of breathing. Through sun salutations we have a very accessible practice we can easily maintain for greater physical, energetic and mental health.

Commit to practicing surya namaskar at least 3-5x in the morning and evening and witness the results for yourself!

First focus on getting the movements and postures solidified and understand any modifications you many need to incorporate. As they become a fluid series of asanas then shift your focus to synchronizing the breath with each movement.
If you’re interesting in deepening this practice or incorporating other asanas into your routine, consider registering for our self-paced Introduction to Asana Online Program. We build off of this sequence in a systematic manner, utilizing accessible traditional asanas while sequencing to balance many of the physical asymmetries of our modern lifestyle. Yogic theory and philosophical insight in provided to support the increased development of your practice and the harmony of your inner and outer world.
Check out our blog on Full Yogic Breathing for the next addition to your practice!

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