Looking For A Simple Yoga Sequence To Start Your Day? Try Sun Salutations!

Written by Charu Chandra

If there is one best yoga sequence that yogis everywhere would unanimously vouch for, it would have to be the sun salutation yoga sequence.

Sun salutations have survived the test of time over centuries long before yoga became popular in the West. They're the foundation upon which most yoga practices are built.

So what exactly are sun salutations? The words are derived from the Sanskrit phrase "surya namaskara," "surya" meaning "sun" and "namaskara" meaning "salutation." It was originally developed as a way of expressing gratitude to the rising sun for providing us with all the life and energy on Earth. Sun salutations are a great way to learn the importance of proper breathing in yoga and to experience the power of gratitude (in this case, to the sun).

Full disclosure — I'm not a yoga teacher (hoping to becoming one soon), but I've been doing these since I was very young so I felt compelled to share here.

Namaskara Stithi, Pranamasana (Prayer Pose)

Stand straight up with your hands straight by your sides. Exhale and join your hands together with forearms perpendicular to the ground. Keep your feet together.

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Urdhvasana (Standing Backward Bend)

Stretch your arms straight back behind your head as you inhale. Focus on joining your hands as tightly as possible while extending your back. Also, tighten your thighs and hips as you do this. Don’t extend your back too much.

Utthanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Bend down at your hips and touch your feet with your hands as you exhale. Keep your knees locked and try to bend as far as possible while keeping your back as straight as possible. Try to touch your knees with your forehead.

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Ekapada Prasaranasana (Equestrian Pose)

From utthanasana, put your right foot back while keeping your left foot and hands where they are as you inhale. Try to push the back of your thighs against your calves. Push your hands against the ground and expand your chest upwards and outwards. Rest your right knee on the floor.

Dvipada Prasaranasana (Stick Pose)

From #4, take the foot that is at the front (left foot in this case) to the back along with your right foot with the toes facing inwards as you exhale. Your body should be in a straight line and you should be looking 4-5 feet ahead. Lock out your elbows and knees in this position.
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Ashtanga Namaskara (Salute With 8 Limbs)

This is similar to the bottom position of the push up, except that only your forehead, chest, palms, feet and knees will be touching the ground. Everything else, including the buttocks will be slightly raised off the ground. The feet and knees should be joined together. Your arms will be by the side of your body.

Urdhwamukha Shvanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

From #6, bend forward and upward as you inhale. Move your shoulders back and down and broaden your chest. Curve your spine and move your tailbone as deep as possible.

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Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Move your body back from #7 while keeping your feet and hands in the same place as you exhale (with heels and palms pressing against the floor). Push your hips backwards and upwards as much as possible. Lock your elbows and knees while relaxing your head. Try to touch the ground with your head while pushing the chest downwards. Relax your head.

Ekapada Prasaranasana (Equestrian Pose)

This is the same as #4. You bring the right foot forward this time as you inhale. The rest of the positions are the same as before.

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Utthanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Same as #3. Exhale.

Namaskara Stithi (Prayer Pose)

Same as #1. This finishes one complete cycle of sun salutation. For the next cycle, alternate the foot you take back in #4 and #9. If you are a beginner, you can start at three cycles and do as many as you want. Consult a teacher if you experience any problems.

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