The Sun Salutation is the only “cardio” portion of the practice. It is done as a warm-up before the main asana sequence to stretch out and bring blood flow to the muscles. It can also be practiced any time when a whole asana practice is not possible.
There are 12 spinal positions in the Surya Namaskar sequence. Each of the movements is coordinated with the breath. At first, you may practice while taking as many breaths as necessary, however, once you learn the sequence, try to synchronize your breath with the motions. You can practice facing the morning sun for an extra energetic boost! Once you are comfortable with the movements and breathing, begin practicing with the eyes closed for a more meditative practice.
- Stimulates cardio-vascular system
- Warms up and stretches the body
- Improves strength and flexibility
- Regulates the breath and focuses the mind
Start by standing at the top of the mat, feet together, arms relaxed by the sides.
- Inhale deeply, and exhale, bring the hands together in prayer position.
- Inhale, stretch the arms up, arch the upper back slightly. Keep the lower back flat. Head remains between the arms.
- Exhale, with a flat back, bring the arms down to the sides of the feet. Bend the knees to get the palms flat on the ground, fingertips and toes in one line.
- Inhale, bring the right leg back to lunge, the front knee at a 90 degree angle, back knee down, toe pointed back. Open the chest.
- Retain the breath, bring the left leg back to plank position, body in a straight line.
- Exhale, bring the knees, chest and forehead to the ground, hips slightly elevated, elbows in towards the body.
- Inhale, slide the head forward and up into low cobra.
- Exhale, lift the hips up and press back into Inverted V position, keeping the feet together. You do not need to step forward.
- Inhale, bring the right foot forward between the hands into lunge, the left knee is on the ground, toes point back.
- Exhale, bring the left foot to meet the right, palms flat on the ground if possible but the legs are straight here.
- Inhale, with a flat back stretch the arms forward, up, and arch back slightly.
- Exhale the arms forward, hands return to the sides, now standing in the initial position.
Repeat this sequence on the left side.
Practice 6 rounds, one round being both sides.
- If you have trouble stepping the foot forward in step 9, drop both knees to the ground before stepping forward. If your foot is still not between the hands, take hold of the ankle and bring it forward. This will slowly increase your range of motion.
- When you begin and end you should be in the same place on the mat. If you notice you are slowly shifting backwards on the mat go slowly and try the previous tip to help bring yourself all the way back to the starting position.