How to do a Sun Salutation with a guide to the breath

Learn how to do a basic Sun Salutation - one of many variations - and synchronise your breath to the movements of your body.

Esther Ekhart, Sun Salutation A

There are many variations of Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A) but here’s a guide to one of them, with instructions on how to synchronize your breath with your movements.

Begin standing in Tadasana (Mountain pose),聽hands in Anjali Mudra (prayer position). Take a moment or two to ground your feet, still your eyes and聽connect with your breath.

Tadasana Anjali mudra
Tadasana

1. Inhale and sweep the arms up above your head to Urdhva Hastasana. Reach through the fingertips and lengthen the sides of the waist. 

Urdhva Hastasana
1. Urdhva Hastasana

2. Exhale, draw the belly back and your thigh muscles upwards, soften your knees slightly and fold forward into Uttanasana.

Uttanasana
2. Uttanasana

3. Inhale and lengthen the spine into Extended forward fold (Ardha Uttansana), still drawing the belly in and up to protect the lower back. You can place your hands on the shins or fingertips on the floor in front of you. 

Ardha Uttansana
3. Ardha Uttansana

4. Exhale, bend the knees and step the right leg back into a High lunge. Firm the top of the right thigh up, draw the left hip slightly back and keep the spine long.

High lunge
4. High lunge

5. Inhale, plant the palms and step the left leg back to join the right in High plank. Press strongly into the hands, firm the front of the body into the back of the body and keep the neck in line with the spine.

Plank pose
5. High Plank

6. Exhale, lowering halfway down to the floor and come into Four-Limbed Staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana).

Chaturanga Dandasana
6. Chaturanga Dandasana

7. Inhale and roll forward and upwards into Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). Press the hands into the floor, shine your heart up and out and roll the shoulders down the back.

Upward Facing Dog
7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Cobra pose
Cobra pose

Alternatively – keep the elbows bent and come into Cobra pose, drawing the hands energetically back towards the waist and lift the chest forwards and upwards. In both versions – Upward Facing Dog and Cobra – try to keep the back of the neck long. 

8. Exhale, draw the belly in and up and press back into Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Ground your hands and feet into the floor, press the tops of the thighs back and extend the whole spine. Take three long, deep breaths…

Downward facing dog pose
8. Downward facing dog

9. Inhale and step the right foot forward to your right thumb, returning to a High lunge

Lunge pose
9. High lunge

10. Exhale, step the left foot forward to join the right and come into Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana).

Uttanasana
10. Uttanasana

11. Inhale, ground through the feet, soften the knees a little, firm the belly and sweep the arms out and up, returning to Urdhva Hastasana.

Urdhva Hastasana.
11. Urdhva Hastasana.

12. Exhale, press the palms lightly together and draw them down the midline, returning to Tadasana. Take a few moments to centre and reconnect to your breath before doing the whole sequence on the other side. 

Tadasana

Try our 21 days of Surya Plays program!

This 3-week program consists of 21 days of variations of the Sun Salutations. These all level classes will help you develop a playful and creative Surya Namaskar home practice. 

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Kirsty Tomlinson
Kirsty Tomlinson