Sun Salutations - What are they and how do we do them?

Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit) form a key part of Vinyasa Flow Yoga classes. If you've been to a Vinyasa Flow class, it's very likely that your teacher will have taken you through some form of Sun Salutations.

Why do we do them?

Sun Salutations are a series of postures that bring movement and heat into the body, warming up the body from the inside out and preparing it for the standing sequence to come. A full body exercise, the movements build strength in the body and mobilise key muscle groups, ensuring that the body is ready for what follows in the class.

The idea of one movement - one breath is often used in Sun Salutations, and so they become a moving meditation, bringing focus to the mind and a flow to our movements. Feel free to extend the number of breaths you take per movement as you need.

Multi-purpose, Sun Salutations can be performed at any speed, matching mood, energy levels and time of day.

In Vinyasa Flow Yoga we tend to use two main versions, A and B, which can be modified endlessly to provide numerous variations.

Whether pushed for time or practicing at home, Sun Salutations can provide a self-contained practice, warming and strengthening the body if performed at pace, or cooling and centring the body if carried out more slowly.

Below we will cover the core Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar A.

Surya Namaskar A

Sun Salutation A consists of just seven poses, a number of which are repeated.

Master the seven poses and you have your own mini yoga practice.

Tadasana - Mountain Pose

Stand in Tadasana with feet together, big toes touching, or hip distance apart if you are modifying.

Root down through the feet, engaging the quadriceps and lift up tall through the crown of the head.

Knit your lower ribs together and ensure a neutral pelvis (not tucked under or sticking out).

Shoulders back and down and strong arms by your sides.

Urdhva Hastasana - Upwards Hands

Inhale - lift your hands up to the sky.

Look towards your thumbs.

Keep the shoulders back and down.

Uttanasana - Forward Fold