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Yoga Routines | step-by-step Sun Salutation series

Updated on June 15, 2009

Dynamic Yoga Series

Introduction to Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations)

The basic translation of Surya Namaskara is salutations to the sun. It is a very ancient tradition which has been in existence since the Vedic age. In the context of sun salutations, spiritual consciousness is worshiped, consciousness being represented by the sun and salutations being a form of worship.

Although a very traditional series of asanas, sun salutations were not added to the yogic system until after the hatha yoga practices were developed. But it is an extremely effective system and is typically used for loosening up, developing, relaxing, and toning all of the physical structures including organs, muscles, joints, and bone structures of the body. Perhaps one of the most effective and dynamic asana practices, sun salutations provide stimulating and vigorous activity for the body and mind while also preparing the individual for future spiritual practices, some of which require a developed sense and awareness of the body and other forces within the human system.

When sun salutations are practiced in their fullest form, all aspects of yoga are put into practice including the practice of asana, pranayama, mantra, and meditation. Sun salutations are typically practice in the morning. For the evening practices another serious is used known as Moon salutations.

The techniques you'll be learning today will be a basic but vital introduction to the series of Surya Namaskara. The practice of this asana should be performed in a steady, rhythmic, and fluid sequence in which all parts of the mind, body, and soul work together in one harmonic movement. Concentration is of the utmost importance; whether focusing the mind on the body, the energy within the body, or the movement of the mind, one should keep focused throughout the entire practice.

While standards for Surya Namaskara do exist, there are many variations of the series and every school or ashram has its own unique style of moving through the practice. This series of Surya Namaskara is commenly used in the Tureyananda Style of Yoga from the Tureya Yoga Ashram in India.

more videos and lessons on yoga can be found at http://www.tureyayoga.com

Asana 1: Pranamasana

keep eyes closed.

The feet should be together and you should be standing in an upright position.

Then the arms that the elbows bring the palms together near the chest in a salutation gesture. Try to focus the mind on offering homage were greetings to the sun, the source of all energy and ultimately life.

Breath should be calm and relaxed without any type of restriction or modification.

Asana 2: Hasta Utthanasana

Now lift the arms above the head reaching towards the sky.

Keep the hands and arms separated from one another palms facing towards the ceiling or sky.

Bend the head, arms, and upper back backwards towards the space behind you giving a slight arch to the body.

As you reach up towards the ceiling and into the final position inhale the breath lifting the chest and expanding the shoulders.

Asana 3: Padahastasana

Bend forward reaching the hands towards the feet. If possible place the hands outside of the otherwise placed a hand on the shins, or thoughts in a position where you're not causing too much strain on the back.

It is possible touch the knees to the forehead but do not stray. In the final position the knees should be straight not bent.

As you bend forward, exhale. In the final position exhale all of the air inside the abdomen trying to expel all the air within the lungs.

Asana 4: Ashwa Sanchalanasana

Starting from the previous position place the hands on the outside of the feet, and if necessary been the knees so that the hands may touch the floor, pressing the palms into the ground.

Stretch the right leg back as far as possible.

While moving the right leg back then the left knee keeping the left foot on the floor in the same position as it was in the previous position. The arms should remain straight, elbows locked. As you reached the final position, the body weight should be supported by the hands. The head should be tilted backwards looking towards the ceiling, the back bench in an arched position.

As you move the right leg back begin the inhalation. As you reached the final position finish the inhalation.

Asana 5: Parvatasana

Move the left leg back beside the right foot. The feet should be approximately hip distance apart from one another. As you moved the left foot back the buttocks will raise towards the ceiling and the head lower between the hands. As you move into the position you should find that the body makes the shape of a triangle hence the name mountain pose.

Ideally the legs and arms should be straight in the final position. Again do not cause extraneous to the body or any of the joints. If you can place the heels flat on the floor in the final position moving the head towards the knees. Exhale while taking the left leg back.

Asana 6: Ashtanga Namaskara

Lower the knees, chest and chin to the floor.

As you reached the final position, only the knees, chest, chin, hands, and toes should touch before. This is why it is called the eight parts or points asana. The knees, the chest, and the chin should all touch the floor at the same time. If this is not possible, lower the knees first, then the chest, and finally the chin. When you reach the final position, the Bucs, hips, and abdomen should be raised off the ground.

In this pose there is no breath. Respiration is held within the body.

Asana 7: Bhujangasana

Lower the buttocks and hips to the floor.

Began to straighten the elbows. This will lift the chest off the ground. As he straightened the arms, the back will begin to arch. As you raised off the floor move the chest forward.

Bend the head back looking towards the ceiling or to the third eye.

The thighs, hips, and toes should remain on the ground. The legs to come together, by touching one another, and inner ankles touching each other.

You may not be able to extend the arms fully in this position, and this is natural as the spine may not be flexible enough to go into the full posture.

In this asana, and inhalation is taken while raising the torso off the ground and arching the back.

Asana 8: Parvatasana

Now we begin to reverse the sequence of position.

Press into the hands, extending the arms, and raised the hips off the floor.

The feet should be approximately hip distance apart from one another. As you moved the left foot back the buttocks will raise towards the ceiling and the head lower between the hands. As you move into the position you should find that the body makes the shape of a triangle hence the name mountain pose. Ideally the legs and arms should be straight in the final position. Again do not cause extraneous to the body or any of the joints. If you can place the heels flat on the floor in the final position moving the head towards the knees.

Exhale while taking the left leg back.

Asana 9: Ashwa Sanchalanasana

Starting from the previous position , move the right leg forward all the way to the hands, placing the foot in between the two hands.

As you move the right leg forward, lower the left knee towards the ground. Simultaneously move the hips and pelvis towards the floor.

The arms should remain straight, elbows locked. As you reached the final position, the body weight should be supported by the hands. The head should be tilted backwards looking towards the ceiling, the back bench in an arched position.

As you move the right leg forward begin the inhalation. As you reached the final position finish the inhalation.

Asana 10: Padahastasana

Pringle left leg forward to meet the right leg. The feet should be gently touching or hip distance apart from one another. If possible place the hands outside of the otherwise placed a hand on the shins, or thoughts in a position where you're not causing too much strain on the back.

It is possible touch the knees to the forehead but do not stray.

In the final position the knees should be straight not bent. As you bend forward, exhale. In the final position exhale all of the air inside the abdomen trying to expel all the air within the lungs.

Asana 11: Hasta Utthanasana

Now lift the arms above the head reaching towards the sky. Keep the hands and arms separated from one another palms facing towards the ceiling or sky.

Bend the head, arms, and upper back backwards towards the space behind you giving a slight arch to the body.

As you reach up towards the ceiling and into the final position inhale the breath lifting the chest and expanding the shoulders.

Asana 11: Pranamasana

Finally concluded the round with Pranamasana, bringing the hands together near the chest.

Conclusion and overview

This constitutes one half of the full surya namaskara series. The second half is completed in the same manner however instead of bringing the right leg back in asana for, we bring the left leg back. Similarly in asana nine, bring left leg forward to meet the hands as opposed to the right.

Guidelines for the duration of the practice state that those who wish to achieve physical strength and health should practice 3 to 10 rounds at a quick pace.

Those who wish to achieve more subtle and perhaps spiritual benefits from this series should practice 3 to 12 rounds at a slow, consistent, and smooth pace.

Comments

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    • Kotori profile image

      Kotori 

      7 years ago from Chicagoland

      Very informative hub. I included a link to this hub on my new yoga for back pain hub. It's in the back strengthening section.

    • lex123 profile image

      lex123 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for writing such an informative hub. I do practice surya namaskara regularly. I have voted up.

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