BY TRISHA SARMENTA
Yoga Faqs
March 24, 2016

Intro to the Sun Salutes

Sun Salute GIF

Sun Salutations (or Surya Namaskar) are a great entry point for beginners to their yoga practice, although there are a few things you should know before you start.

Sun Salutations are a great workout for the whole body. They stretch, flex and tone the muscles, while building heat and cardiovascular activity. As a moving meditation, Sun Salutations develop focus and peace of mind. Let your breath guide each movement, and extend the movement over the length of each breath.

As a beginner, you can start with 2-4 rounds and then gradually work up to as many as you can (even up to 108!). Remember, it is important to respect your body’s limits, especially when it comes to overstretching. It might be tempting to imitate your yoga teacher or fellow practitioner, but the idea is not to compete with anyone. Each body has different levels of flexibility and strength. Do only as much as it can take.

Some things to remember before you begin: if you are suffering from physical problems, such as back pain, consult a doctor before beginning the practice and have a conversation with your yoga teacher before hand. Also, it is best to learn Sun Salutations under supervision, so that your teacher can help you with proper alignment. To achieve best results, try to practice Sun Salutations regularly.

There are different types of Sun Salutations. Here’s how to do Sun Salutation A for beginners:

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Start by rooting down evenly on both feet and reaching up through your spine and the crown of your head. Lengthen your tailbone towards the floor just enough so that the lower back feels spacious, while zipping up from your lower belly to your sternum. Let your chest feel broad but contained by drawing the shoulders back and your front ribs in.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)


Inhale and sweep your arms up and overhead. Wrap your outer arms in towards your ears and reach up through your pinkie fingers

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)


Exhale and fold forward at the hips. Keep the spine long, though you can bend your knees to ease strain on your back.

Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)


Inhale and lift your chest halfway up. Stay rooted through strong legs. Press your hands into your shins to elongate your spine.

Plank Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bend your knees and flatten your palms on the mat. Step one leg back followed by the other. Keep your arms strong and straight (but don’t lock your elbows) and your shoulders on top of your wrists, hug your belly in and reach your tailbone towards your heels.

 

Modified Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Shift your weight forward towards the base of your fingers and on your fingertips, bring your knees to the ground ( do this to support your body as you build strength), bend at the elbows, and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and close to your side ribs. Try not to sink your hips or collapse your belly. Be patient! Mastering this pose takes time. Lower all the way down.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)


Lie with your belly on the floor. Take an inhale and press back through the tops of your feet, simultaneously contracting your upper back muscles to draw your shoulders back and broaden your collarbones. Gaze past the tip of your nose. Make sure you keep your elbows bent and your legs and pelvis rooted to the earth.

 

 

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhale, tuck your toes under, press your palms down and use the strength of your belly to pull your hips up and back. Establish a long line from your wrists through your shoulders, spine and hips. If this is proving difficult, bend your knees and lift your heels. You want to prioritise lengthening your spine here over having to straighten your legs out right away. Straightening of the legs can happen over time, the more you open your hamstrings or the muscles at the back of your legs.  Stay for 5 breaths, grounding down through your palms and pulling your thighs back.

Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)


After the fifth exhalation, step your feet forward to your hands. Inhale and lift your chest, lengthening the spine.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhale and fold forward again completely.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)


Ground down through your feet and take a big inhale, rise fully

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhale and return to Mountain Pose.

*yogi model: Mariel Artiaga

Learn the ins and outs of the sun salutation with Urban Ashram Yoga’s FNR (Flexibility Not Required). Understand your body and the muscles that need to build strength and flexibility in order to flow through the salutations with more ease, perfect for those new to yoga.

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Trisha Sarmenta is a Development Analyst and a yoga teacher. She teaches vinyasa flow and FNR classes at Urban Ashram Yoga. 

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