The Perfect Sun Salutation To Start Your Summer Day Right
Summer is a celebration of longer days, warmth, and sunshine. What better way to show gratitude for this than by beginning our mornings with a few rounds of Surya Namaskar (sun salutation)!
Sun salutations gracefully link together a series of asanas (yoga poses) and provide the student with an excellent cardiovascular workout. They also help build full body strength and flexibility—all in all, the perfect short morning flow!
This particular form of sun salutation comes from the Ashtanga Vinyasa lineage. Each pose is held for only one part of the breath. If the weather allows, I encourage you to do this practice outdoors, perhaps even at sunrise:
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand up tall at the top of your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders back and turn your palms forward. Push into all four corners of both feet. Exhale fully.
2. Raised Arm Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)
Inhale to reach your arms up overhead. Bring your palms together as you look up.
3. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
Exhale to fold forward toward your toes. Bend your knees as much as you need to in order to protect your lower back.
4. Standing Half Forward Bend Pose (Ardha Uttanasana)
Inhale to lift your chest up halfway, parallel to the mat. Place your fingertips on the mat in front of you or on your shins if needed. Roll your shoulders back, and keep the weight in your toes.
5. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Exhale to step your feet back into plank pose and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Keep your upper arms close to your rib cage and your core engaged. You can make this easier by lowering your knees to the mat. Intermediate and advanced students can hop the feet back into four-limbed staff pose immediately and skip the plank pose.
6. Upward-Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
7. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Exhale to lift your hips up and back into downward-facing dog. Your feet should be hip-width distance apart with your hands shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees as much as you'd like as you reach your tailbone up.
8. Standing Half Forward Bend Pose (Ardha Uttanasana)
From downward-facing dog, bend your knees to look at the top of the mat. Step or hop your feet in between your palms and inhale to find your standing half forward bend pose once more.
9. Standing Forward Bend Pose (Uttanasana)
Exhale to fold forward.
10. Raised Arm Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)
Inhale as you come all the way up to standing, leading with your chest and circling your arms up overhead.
11. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Exhale back into your standing position. Repeat for four to nine more rounds as is appropriate for your body.
Excerpt from Year of Yoga, published by Mandala Publishing, copyright © 2022 by Kassandra Reinhardt, photo copyright © 2022 by Jessica Hodgson.