Maybe you’ve heard of Sun Salutations or you’ve heard of Surya Namaskar A. Namaskar means “to bow.”
It also translates to “not me.”
And with that idea, “Sun A’s,” which are a sequence of poses that are repeated as many times as you want to repeat them, can offer us a transformative experience where we can move and let go of the self and just come back to the essence of WHO WE ARE.
Sun Salutations are a moving meditation of sorts, where you get lost in the flow of your breath and movement.
As you approach and move through Sun Salutations, you can connect with a deeper self, the part of you that is without thought or worries and just be in your body in the present moment.
You may find that it is easier to quiet the mind when moving here, while also building strength and stamina. I enjoy a few of these flows in the morning, upon waking up. No need to make a fuss and put on your yoga pants - your pj's will do just fine.
What is the Sun Salutation A Sequence of Poses?
- Standing Pose (Samasthiti) – This is sometimes called Mountain pose. Standing Pose typically has your hands actively reaching downwards by your sides.
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana) In this case, is when arms are reaching high overhead.
- Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
- Halfway Lift (Ardha Uttanasana)
- Plank Pose
- Cobra (Bhujangasana)
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Halfway Lift (2nd time)
- Standing Forward Fold (2nd time)
- Mountain Pose (2nd time)
- Standing Pose (2nd time)
Using The Breath in Surya Namaskar A
Breathing is part of our essence. In Sun Salutations it is kind of the whole point.
The movements don’t matter so much.
What matters is breath-to-movement.
A beautiful dance in the body where you feel completely connected to your body, mind, and emotions all at once through the breath.
When you breathe in these shapes, there is sometimes a method to the madness.
It doesn’t really matter if you inhale or exhale on the right shape, but there are some suggestions (that differ depending on the lineage the teacher was taught in), that can be offered.
My biggest piece of advice is that, no matter what pose you are about to breathe into, allow your inhale to represent energy rising and your exhale to allow your energy to feel grounded.
The way I always figure out when I should breathe in and out is if my head is going above my heart, I breathe in (usually). If my head is going below the heart (like downward dog, forward fold), I breathe out.
Here is the above sequence, but with some breath suggestions.
Breathing Sequence with Sun Salutation A
- Standing Pose – One full inhale and exhale. Or a few of them. Find your feet here, your roots. Don’t just stand there, but stand with intention in every part of your body.
- Mountain Pose – Inhale as arms reach high
- Forward Fold – Exhale (take the full breath to reach each shape)
- Halfway Lift – Inhale as you lift the chest and activate the body
- Plank pose – Exhale, plant the hands and step back into plank (some teach a breath out into forward fold, breath into plank. I prefer the version listed above, by stepping into plank from halfway lift because the lift creates the long spine that you need in plank, so you are just extending out the legs from an already lengthened spine).
- You can pause in plank for breath or keep moving. Breath in shifts the body forward in plank and the exhale lowers the body all the way down towards the belly to prepare for cobra. Try to lower with the full breath so that the entire body touches down at the same time.
- Cobra pose – Inhale chest forward and up.
- Exhale lowers the chest back down. Inhale back up to plank pose.
- Downward Facing Dog – Exhale into this shape taking the full breath to get there.
- Breathe in and gaze forward, bending the knees
- Forward Fold – Exhale into the fold (step, walk, hop, float)
- Halfway Lift – Inhale
- Forward Fold – Exhale
- Mountain Pose – Inhale to rise up (I encourage students to bend the knees as they rise because it can ease lightheadedness)
- Standing Pose – Exhale hands to sides or to heart center with palms pressing into each other.
You can create your own variations here-- Sun A’s are just a suggestion.
You’ll find some variation of them in most Vinyasa style yoga classes.
You don’t have to go to a studio to gain the benefits of yoga, and you don’t have to go to a yoga studio to do yoga. All you need to do is commit to moving your body., ideally every day.
You can learn these poses and the proper alignment through practice. We aren’t aiming for perfection. Yoga is about showing up and doing your best.
Do you struggle with Sun Salutations or have you overcame it? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you!
xxo - Sam Miliam