A Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is one of the fundamentals of a yang yoga practice. It is one of, if not the most, familiar asana sequences and it is rich in symbolic meaning and physical benefits. Essentially, it is a practice of flowing through a sequence of twelve postures which link breath and movement. Traditionally, it is performed in the morning facing toward the sun. When one participates in a surya namaskar, we do so to recognise the sun as an abundant source of all life, and greet or salute to the sun as a gesture of our thanks. Different styles of yoga have different steps of a surya namaskar, Hatha, Ashtanga, Kundalini, and Iyengar for example all have a slightly different sequence, and the variations of surya namaskars in Vinyasa classes can vary enormously.

That being said, the benefits of a sun salutation – whichever version you take – are comparable. It’s a great way to help you learn to synchronise the breath and the movement, as you move with your inhales and your exhales. It’s an excellent way to build overall strength and flexibility, in particular the shoulders and the hamstrings.

The basic surya namaskar yoga sequence is as follows:

Exhale; Samasthiti; Feet together, weight spread evening, thighs engaged, tail bone tucked, core engaged, shoulders back and down, and hands by the sides.

Inhale; Urdhva Hastana; reach the arms up over head, gaze at the thumbs.

Exhale; Utanasana; bending from the hips, take your hands down to the ground beside your feet.

Inhale; Urdvah (or Ardha) Utanasana; lengthen the spine and gaze forward, open your shoulders.

Exhale; Chaturanga Dandasana; jump or step back to a high plank, and keeping the elbows tucked close to the body, lower yourself down till your elbows reach 90 degrees.

Inhale; Urdhva Mukha Svanasana; press the ground away to lift the chest and open the shoulders, gaze upwards, flip your toes.

Exhale; Adho Mukha Svanasana; plant your feet in the mat, send the hips up and back, press your chest between the arms and create length in the spine and hamstrings. Stay here for five breaths.

Inhale; Urdvah (or Ardha) Utanasana; jumping or stepping the feet between the hand, lengthen the spine and gaze forward.

Exhale; Utanasana; nose to knee, folding forwards.

Inhale; Urdhva Hastana; raise up to stand, arms above the head, gaze at the thumbs.

Exhale; Samasthiti; return to a neutral stance, muscles engaged, arms to the sides.

You can repeat this sequence any number of times, perhaps at least 4 or 5. Or try to maintain for at least 10 – 15 minutes. This sequence will have a positive effect on the mind, body, and spirit and is an excellent way to warm up the muscles for yoga, stretch the body, connect with your breath and movement, and will help improve your discipline and sense of well-being.

Author's Bio: 

Kranti Yoga provides a real family environment. It is a great place to meet like-minded people (all with a huge passion for yoga) and you cannot help but feel welcome and at home.