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

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

Esther Ekhart, Sun Salutation A

There are many variations of Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar. Here’s a guide to one of them – Surya Namaskar A – with instructions on how to synchronise 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, close your eyes or soften your gaze or and 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, lengthen the spine into Extended forward fold (Ardha Uttansana) and draw the belly in and up to support your lower back. You can place your hands on your 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. Draw the top of your right thigh up, 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 into the hands, draw 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, broaden your collar bones and roll the shoulders down the back.

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

Alternatively – keep your elbows bent and come into Cobra pose. Draw your 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 your neck long. 

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

Downward facing dog pose
8. Downward facing dog

9. Inhale and step your 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, soften your knees a little and draw your belly slightly in and up. Sweep your arms out and up and return return 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 pause and reconnect to your breath before doing the whole sequence on the other side. 

Tadasana

Learn Sun Salutations as part of our Vinyasa Yoga for Beginners program!

The original inspiration for Surya Namaskar

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Kirsty TomlinsonKirsty moved to the Netherlands from the UK to work for EkhartYoga in 2015. She trained with Esther Ekhart and Julie Martin, and has done many courses in meditation, mindfulness and Yoga Nidra. Kirsty previously worked in publishing, graphic design and recruitment. Her role at EkhartYoga focuses on copywriting, editing and content creation.