All About Sun Salutations

June 11, 2021

Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar A and B) are foundational sequences that initiate the rhythm of a yoga flow. The name is derived from the Sanskrit words “Sūrya” meaning sun and “Namaskāra” meaning greeting or salute. Completing just a few rounds of these sequences can build heat through the entire body and link breath with movement for a mindful yoga practice.

The sun salutation sequence is made up of eight asanas:

  • Tadasana (mountain pose)
  • Urdhva Hastasana (upward salute)
  • Uttanasana (standing forward fold)
  • Anjaneyasana (low lunge)
  • Kumbhakasana (plank pose)
  • Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff)
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)

What is the history of Sun Salutations in yoga?

The precise dates and origin of the Surya Namaskar sequence aren’t widely agreed upon. Some historians insist that its roots lead back to 2,500 years ago. It may have been developed during the Vedic times as a ritual to worship the sun and the energy it provides all life on earth. Others claim that the roots of the sequence are more modern, originating somewhere around the early 1900’s.

It’s not overly surprising that the exact origins are unknown, seeing as Sun Salutations are widely customized and adapted in modern yoga practice. Many vinyasa yoga practitioners and teachers perform this sequence in a non-traditional way, incorporating other asanas and adapting it to suit their needs. Read more on The Role of Sun Salutations in Your Vinyasa Flow.

What are the benefits of practicing sun salutations in yoga?

Regularly incorporating sun salutations into your yoga practice will build strength, mobility and a greater awareness of alignment. Although these sequences are dynamic movements, they offer an opportunity to slow down and tune into one asana at a time. The repetition of these sequences makes them predictable and easier to notice improvements and changes to the body over time.  

Practicing Surya Namaskar can also be used as a moving meditation. The next time you step on your mat, consider flowing through the sequence independently. Memorizing the sequence and flowing through it on your own can be a great way to find yourself in a “flow state” with your mind and body connected through movement.

Victoria Maybee l Mukha Yoga

By Victoria Maybee; All Rights Reserved @2021

Victoria Maybee l Mukha YogaBy Victoria Maybee; All Rights Reserved @2021

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