Sun Salutation

Sun Salutation, also known by its original name Surya Namaskara, is one of the most popular asanas in the western yoga culture. The Sun Salutation also is a great yoga routine because all of the poses can have different levels of advancement so a typical beginner, to intermediate, to advanced yoga class can enjoy and find challenges in the same routine.

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The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskara, is also great for Hatha yoga breath training. In Hatha yoga, the students move through the asanas with each breath. When the body contracts, they exhale, and when the body expands, they inhale. The Sun Salutation asana moves are basic and clear enough that it is a great asana for beginners who are learning to move with the breath. When a student moves on to more challenging and harder to define asanas, the Sun Salutation experience can make it easier to find and stay with your breath in the more advanced asanas.

The Sun Salutation is believed to have its origins in India as a daily practice. Surya Namaskara literally translates to Sun Salutation. In Hindu religion, the sun is a very powerful symbol where all life comes from. Today, many in the western culture have picked this asana as a daily routine to find balance and health in.

Sun Salutation is a popular yoga session because it stretches and exercises the whole body while warming the core and limbering the body. If you drop into a random yoga class, there is a good chance the class will start with a few sun salutations to warm up the body and stretch out the core. When practicing yoga, it is very helpful to warm the body and the muscles. When your muscles and body are warmer, they are more pliable and flexible. They are also more open to take in change and expansion. The breathing will help heat up the respiratory system, the forward bends help stretch the back out, and the lunges open up the core muscles.

There are many variations of the Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskara, but most of them have the following basic foundation as one cycle.

Prayer pose – Pranamasana
Mountain – Parvataasana
Raised Hands Pose – Hasta Uttanasana
Forward Bend pose – Hastapaadasana
Lunge Pose – Ardha Mandalasana
Four-Limbed Staff Pose – Dandasana
Cobra pose-Bhujangasana
Lunge Pose – Ardha Mandalasana
Forward Bend pose – Hastapaadasana
Raised Hands Pose – Hasta Uttanasana
Mountain – Parvataasana
Prayer pose – Pranamasana

These basic poses cycle easily as is or can have additional asanas easily incorporated for a longer or more complete routine while still maintaining a normal flow of breathing and movement. Even in a basic class with no additional poses added in, each basic pose can be done in a variety of ways that increases the strength or stretching power of the pose for more advanced students.

One place where additional asanas are often added is the Lunge Pose (Ardha Mandalasana). This is a great time to add in poses such as Warrior (Virabhadrasana) variations or Triangle (Trikonasana), which are good for working the hips, shoulders, and deep core muscles. This is also a great time to add more advanced poses to challenge and expand students wanting a more advanced routine.

The Mountain (Parvataasana) pose provides the opportunity to add in standing poses such as Tree Pose (Vrksasana), Big Toe (Padangusthasana), or even more advance poses like Standing Splits (Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana).

The next time you drop in for a yoga session, you will likely go through at least one round of Sun Salutation, enjoy and breathe.