There are many variations of Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar but here’s a guide to one of them – Surya Namaskar A – with instructions on how to synchronize your breath with your movements.
Surya Namaskar A – step by step
Begin by standing in Tadasana (Mountain pose), hands in Anjali Mudra (prayer position). Take a moment or two to ground your feet, still your eyes and connect with your breath.
1. Inhale and sweep the arms up above your head to Urdhva Hastasana. Reach through the fingertips and lengthen the sides of the waist.
2. Exhale, draw the belly back and your thigh muscles upwards, soften your knees slightly and fold forward into 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.
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.
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.
6. Exhale, lowering halfway down to the floor and come into Four-Limbed Staff pose (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.
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…
9. Inhale and step the right foot forward to your right thumb, returning to a High lunge.
10. Exhale, step the left foot forward to join the right and come into Standing Forward Fold (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.
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.