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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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, broaden your collar bones and roll the shoulders down the back.
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…
9. Inhale and step your 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, 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.
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.