What is a Sun Salutation and How Does it Work?

Yoga is an ancient form of meditation focusing on strength, flexibility, and breathing. A crucial part of providing well-being, yoga presents many benefits. Accompanied in many healing practices, it’s an essential part of rebuilding your energy around self-care, positive energy, and releasing your chakra.

Mastering the expert positions won’t immediately come naturally to beginners, but it’s simple to learn the basics. The principles of yoga begin with Surya Namaskar – or Sun Salutations if you’re not fluent in Sanskrit – being the awakening practices in yoga. Surya means ‘sun’ while Namaskar translates to “to bow down”, suggesting that it’s best carried out at the start of your day while the Sun is giving you the first signs of its energy. Over time, they’re essential to calming your state of mind, adding movement to your daily meditation to enhance the focus of your physical body and your spirituality.

A sequence of yoga poses, Sun Salutations are broken down into Sun Salutations A and B. Both variations neutralise your state of mind to discover balance, but they’re different in their intensities. If you’re a beginner you may want to start your day with Sun Salutation A as it has a shorter sequence with fewer poses, whereas Sun Salutation B offers more amateur yoga-nomads a longer set of slightly more challenging positions.

Part of the Vinyasa flow style yoga practice – a contemporary style that merges several poses to make a sequence – many yoga instructors use these sequences as warm-ups to further advanced positions to aid flexibility, open your body outwards and support the session.

Why Practice Sun Salutations?

Aside from awakening your body and soul to take on the day more positively and calmer, practicing Sun Salutations opens all parts of your body so you’re balancing your energy. Both sequences embrace poses that target all areas to give you a good grounding for the day – observing the Sun, the energy of the Earth. Nothing is more energizing.

Continual practice of Sun Salutation has immense health benefits, not least if you’re a beginning determined to change your lifestyle. Offering a short 20-minute each day, a small burst amounts to a lot in returned energy. After all, it’s best to do small and consistent over large bursts infrequently.

  1. Increases your energy circulation

Sun Salutations are one of the best ways to wake up feeling refreshed and calm. Increasing your heart rate, a series of Sun Salutations will increase your blood flow. Reducing energy blockages, your chakra is more likely to become aligned overtime by adding these poses to your daily ritual to maintain and boost your energy.

  • Tone your muscles

As well and enhancing your energy stores, the physicality of the Sun Salutation – especially in the morning when your body is readjusting from sleep – leads to health benefits.

Centred around the spine, your chakra will thank you for reenergising the core of your energy supply. Also the backbone of good posture, you’ll reduce stiffness and release tension in your back.

  • Experience moving meditation

Designed to help sustain calm breathing throughout, the Sun Salutation sequence can be a positive way to enhance meditation. Introducing slight movement while maintaining breathing techniques can be a way to introduce the physical to the spiritual. Embracing this regularly will improve your meditation techniques over time to drive a higher mentality of mind.

  • Become centred

While you’re meditating, use your newfound daily morning ritual to focus on gratitude. All the poses are designed to centre your body and enhance your centre of gravity – use that to manifest your daily affirmations. Associating your words with actions works to reinforce your manifestations and drive you to be happier and healthier in yourself.

The Sun Salutation Sequence

Breathing is extremely important to fully move into the Sun Salutation and breeze through each step seamlessly. Always make sure that you’re aligning your breathing with the yoga sequence – if you’re fastening up the pace, make sure that your breathing keeps up. Similarly, if you’re wanting to slow down to focus on the singular movements, drive down your breathing. And always start a new pose on a fresh intake of breath – misaligning the two will cause you to disconnect with the calm you’ve built up.

Mountain Pose

Position yourself at the front of your mat facing forwards, straight back, with your palms facing forward. Inhale. Raise your arms out to the side and gently bring them up so your hands meet above your head. Lift your head up to place your gaze on your thumbs.

Uttanasana to Flat Back

Exhale, while bending your arms over your legs to arrive at a forward bend. Ensure that your fingertips are in line with your toes. Lift your head – your back will begin to straighten.

Plank Pose

Remember to exhale. Place your palms in line with your hips below your head and either step or jump your legs straight back behind you. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrists, and here you have inhale.

Knees, Chest or Chin

Inhale. While in the Plank position, gently lower your knees, then your chest, and finally your chin, to the ground. Throughout, keep your bum high and your hands flat on the surface.

Cobra or Upwards Facing Dog

Exhale. Lie flat on the ground and start to lift your chest up through your arms, keeping your hands flat on the surface. Bend your back slightly, while trying not to add too much weight onto your hands. You want the focus to be on your shoulders lifting your body up.

Downward Facing Dog

Strong muscular young woman in leggings doing three-legged downward-facing dog pose on shore

Inhale. Push back from the Cobra position to raise your bum by pushing out your shoulders to straighten your arms. Keeping your hands flat, gently lower your head to maintain a straight spine. You want to make sure that your feet are flat on the ground too.

Step or Jump into a Forward Bend

Exhale. While in the Downward Facing Dog position, get onto tip toes. From here you can either jump forward taking both feet forward or take a step forward if you feel more comfortable doing this. For this, move your right foot forward to meet your right hand, then mirror on your left.

Finish

Breathing is everything at this stage as you’re winding yourself down to the finish. While inhaling, lift your arms out to the side and up so both hands are meeting in front of you, then bring them back to the starting position.

While exhaling, arrive at the Mountain Pose with your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest.