The Sacred Sun Salutation - Surya Namaskar A

For those of you who are unfamiliar with yoga, the Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar as it is referred to in Sanskrit, is traditionally a worship of the Sun deity giving thanks and gratitude for the warmth, light and prana (life force) that it graciously provides.

The Sun Salutation is a moving meditation linked with breath. Each pose or movement begins with an inhale or exhale and remains succinct in a 12 pose flow sequence as shown in the diagram.

The sun salutation is a beautiful way to greet your day as it stimulates the chakra energy centers of the body and heightens awareness and connection with oneself and the divine energy.  It is normally practiced first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and serves to warm and release any tension in the body, energizes the mind and offers spiritual upliftment.

I have practiced this daily for as long as I can remember and it has a profound effect on my psyche each day. During dark days when I am feeling especially emotional or vulnerable or even through days of overcoming addiction, this practice helped me to engage in mindfulness and supported me in ways that nothing else could.  

I would encourage you, whether you are ‘into’ yoga or not, to try this beautiful yet, simple, ancient practice as it will help you to cultivate your own sense of devotion to whatever it is speaks to your heart. If you are in a moment of darkness, practice a few rounds of Sun Salutation and your feelings will most certainly pass or you will gain greater clarity and less attachment to the feelings.

Step By Step:

(info from

1. To begin, stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Establish a slow, steady rhythm for your breath. Find your center.

2. Next, inhale and stretch your arms out to the side and overhead into Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute). Reach your heart and arms to the heavens, sending your greeting to the sun.

3. As you exhale, hollow out your belly and fold into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), connecting down into the earth. Keep your legs firmly engaged.

4. Inhale and lengthen your spine forward into Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend). In this pose, the gaze is lifted, the spine is extended, and the fingertips can stay on the floor or rise to the shins.

5. Exhale and step or lightly hop your feet back behind you into Plank Pose. Your wrists should be flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart, and your feet should be at hip distance. Take a full breath in as you lengthen through your spine.

6. Exhale and lower into Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), keeping your legs straight and pushing back into your heels or bringing your knees to the floor. Build heat in the center of your body as you hold this challenging posture.

7. Inhale and carve your chest forward into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog), directing that energy out from your heart. Pull your shoulders back and open your collarbones. Engage your legs but relax your gluteal muscles.

8. Exhale and roll over the toes, coming into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose). Ground down through your hands and feet as you lengthen your spine. Remain here for five breaths.

9. On your fifth exhale, bend your knees and look between your hands. Then inhale and step or lightly hop your feet between your hands, returning to Ardha Uttanasana.

10. Exhale back to Uttanasana, surrendering into the fold.

11. Inhale, reaching your arms out wide to your sides and coming to stand through a flat back. Feel a renewed sense of energy as you draw your arms overhead into Urdhva Hastasana.

12. Exhale and return to Tadasana, your home base. Remain here for a few breaths, feeling the movement of energy through your body, or continue on to your next salute. 

Rise and shine with some sun salutations! Practiced in many forms of yoga, Surya Namaskar A and B, are a fantastic way to warm up the body before getting into more challenging poses. Post your own on Instagram and tag #sanghasunsalute during November for a chance to win a free month of unlimited yoga at Sangha Yoga Shala in December. And join me today there at either 2pm or 7:30pm for some energizing, core strengthening Vinyasa.

External image

 Tadasana —- FOLDING FORWARD —–— ardha uttanasana —-





sun salutation with

low lunges

Tadasana reach your arms up - inhale
Uttanasana fold forward - exhale
Ardha Uttanasana lift halfway up, extend your spine, lengthen your head forward - inhale
Uttanasana drape forward over your legs, letting your head hang - exhale
Anjaneyasana step back with your right foot into a low lunge, let your knee come to the floor, lift your arms up, inhale
Chaturanga step back with your left foot,  exhale
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (updog), inhale
Adho Mukha Svanasana donward dog, exhale
Anjaneyasana step forward with your right foot, lower your left knee to the floor, low lunge, lift your arms up, inhale
Uttanasana step forward with your left foot, bow to your knees, exhale
Ardha Uttanasana lengthen your spine, lift halfway up, inhale
Uttanasana, bow to your knees, exhale
Tadasana, inhale circle your arms up and stand tall.
ANJALI MUDRA exhale bring your hands to your heart
Tadasana inhale lift your arms up
Uttanasana exhale bow forward
Ardha Uttasana inhale lengthen lifting halfway
Uttanasana exhale drape over your legs
Anjaneyasana inhale step your left leg back, low lunge, life your arms up
Chaturanga exhale step back with your right foot
Urdva Mukha Svanasana inhale updog
Adho Mukha Svanasana exhale downdog
Anjaneyasana inhale step forward with your left foot, low lunge
Uttanasana exhale step forward with your right foot
Ardha Uttanasana inhale
Uttanasana exhale
Tadanasana inhale
ANJALI MUDRA exhale bring your hands to your heart
Do this sun salutation twice more, once on each side. When you are on the right side you step the right foot back from uttanasana and you step the right foot forward from downdog.

Benefits of Hasta Uttanasana (Raised Arms Pose)

  1. It improves digestion.
  2. It stretches and tones the muscles of the abdomen.
  3. It expands the chest and the rib cage resulting in full intake of oxygen. The lung capacity is fully utilised.

Benefits of Standing Forward Bend Pose:

  • Stretches the hips, hamstrings, thighs, knees and calves
  • Keeps your spine strong and flexible
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue

Here is a neat depiction of SURYA NAMASKAR A and B, including breath cues (use the legend at the top right). Sun salutations link each movement with an inhale or an exhale breath. Follow the length of your breath to judge how long to stay in each part of the sun salutation.