Learn How To Do Surya Namaskara A

Ashtanga Sun Salutation Basics

If you're doing vinyasa yoga, you're probably practicing Ashtanga sun salutations without even realizing it. Surya namaskar A is the most basic sun salutation. In the Ashtanga primary series, each practice starts with five rounds of surya namaskar A, followed by five of surya namaskar B. These sequences are used in many other yoga traditions as well.

Unless otherwise noted, movement from one pose to the next occurs on each breath.

1

Mountain Pose - Tadasana
Mountain Pose - Tadasana. © Ann Pizer

Begin in samasthiti. This is the mountain pose, a way to check in with your body so you can be mindful of your form through the rest of the poses. You will stand with your big toes touching and raise yourself on your toes to fan them out. Engaging your quadriceps, you'll rotate your thighs inward to widen the sit bones. Draw in your stomach while maintaining the natural curves of your spine. Open your collar bones and shrug your shoulders, rolling them back to release your shoulder blades. Kee your arms natural at your sides with the palms facing forward. Keep your neck long and your chin level.

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2

Raised Hands Pose - Urdhva Hastasana
Raised Hands Pose - Urdhva Hastasana. Ben Goldstein

Inhale. Bring the arms up over your head with your palms together or facing each other. Keep your shoulders back and down.

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3

Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana. Barry Stone

Exhale. Fold forward over the legs. Your fold should originate in your pelvis, not in your back. Bring your fingertips in line with your toes and press your palms to the mat. Engage your quadriceps at the front of your thighs to draw open your hamstrings at the back of your thighs.

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4
Flat Back

Flat Back. © Barry Stone

Inhale. Come up onto the fingertips with a flat back.

5

Chaturanga Dandasana
Chaturanga Dandasana. © Barry Stone

Exhale. Flatten your palms and jump or step back to chaturanga dandasana. This starts as a plank position with arms and legs straight, shoulders over your wrists. You then shift the plank forward and bend your elbows straight back, hugging them to your body. The toes are still tucked.

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6

Upward Facing Dog - Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Upward Facing Dog - Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. © Barry Stone

Inhale. Roll over the toes and straighten your arms to upward dog. Try not to bring your thighs to the floor during this transition. Open your chest toward the ceiling. Your shoulders should stay over your wrists.

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7

Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana. © Barry Stone

Exhale. Roll back over the toes to down dog. Take five breaths here. Let your head hand and move your shoulder blades toward your hips. If you engage your quadriceps, they will take more of the weight off your arms.

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8

Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana
Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana. Barry Stone

Exhale. Jump or step forward. This is back to the third position used. Be sure that you are folding from the pelvis as you don't want a curved spine here. If you can't press your palms flat on the mat, you can use blocks under your hands. If you can bring your weight onto the balls of your feet, your hips will stay over your ankles.

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9

Raised Hands Pose - Urdhva Hastasana
Raised Hands Pose - Urdhva Hastasana. Ben Goldstein

Inhale. Bring the arms up above your head. This is now back to the second pose. Your gaze should be up toward your thumbs. Keep a microbend in your knees to protect your joints.

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10

Mountain Pose - Tadasana
Mountain Pose - Tadasana. © Barry Stone

Exhale. Return the arms to your sides. But this isn't just returning to the original stance. Ensure every part of your body is in alignment once again, stacking all of your bones and keeping your spine long.

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