4 Reasons why Sun Salutations could change your yoga practice


lady doing sun salutation in the morning in her bedroom with a live online yoga class.

Sun Salutations are like the bread and butter of yoga asana. Build them into your daily routine for an instant energy boost.


Wake up with purpose...


Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, are the very lifeblood of yoga asana. First appearing in asana practice in the 1930s, they are an excellent addition to a yoga practice for lots of different reasons, and with the right modifications are enjoyed by many different people! Chances are, whether you’re a yoga beginner or you have a regular practice, you’ll have flowed your way through Sun Salutations in some form. No matter how much you know about them, they may be one of the first things that springs to mind when you hear ‘yoga’…


What are Sun Salutations?


Sun Salutations are a combination of yoga poses, designed to be practised in a continuous flow that is consciously linked to the breath. Breathing in and out as you flow through the postures, Sun Salutations can be energetic (by moving through each pose with just one breath), or have a calming effect (by slowing it down with a couple of long breaths between postures).


Unsurprisingly, Sun Salutations were traditionally practised at sunrise, in homage and reverence to the light and warmth of the rising sun. It’s no coincidence that Sun Salutations end with prayer hands at the heart, paying respect to the sun’s life-giving energy. You don’t have to practice at the crack of dawn to reap the benefits – whatever the hour, Sun Salutations are the perfect way to warm up the body and clear the mind.


Which yoga poses are involved?


There are actually three different Sun Salutation sequences, and within these you'll find many different variations and modifications that enable students to get the most from their practice. There is the classic sun salutation and then two other variations, handily called ‘A’ and ‘B.’ The classic sun salutation is probably the most recognised and is a gentler sequence, making it ideal for beginners and early morning practice.


Each flow is designed to be repetitive, so you can take it completely at your own pace, and stop when you feel ready. The number 108 contains a lot of religious and cultural significance in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, so some yogis practice a whopping 108 Sun Salutations! No pressure. We think a 2 or 3 rounds is a respectable number to aim for, but if you make it to 108 then kudos to you!


Classic Surya Namaskar


A great way to start any asana practice, this sequence of asana has many physical, mental and emotional benefits for the body and mind. There are 12 poses and one round includes practicing all on the right side and then on the left.

  1. Sthithprathanasana (Standing Prayer Pose)

  2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

  3. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Fold)

  4. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

  5. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog)

  6. Ashtanga Namaskara (Knees-Chest-Chin)

  7. Cobra (Bhujangasana)

  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog)

  9. Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

  10. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Fold)

  11. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

  12. Sthithprathanasana (Standing Prayer Pose)



Surya Namaskar A


Surya Namaskar A is a stronger practice and more deeply warms the entire body. It starts and ends the same as the Classic version, but adds four new elements, including halfway lift, plank pose, chaturanga and upward facing dog, which in turn makes it a little more challenging.


  1. Sthithprathanasana (Standing Prayer Pose)

  2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

  3. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Fold)

  4. Ardha Uttanasana (Halfway Lift)

  5. Phalakasana (plank pose)

  6. Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff pose)

  7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog)

  9. Ardha Uttanasana (Halfway Lift)

  10. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Fold)

  11. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

  12. Sthithprathanasana (Standing Prayer Pose)



Suyra Namaskar B


Surya Namaskar B adds on to Surya Namaskar A and introduces two more asana, chair pose and warrior I. This is the most challenging version of the Sun Salutation and is generally more appropriate for more experienced practitioners. It offers a deep exploration of the hip flexors and the relationship between the pelvis and the spine.


  1. Sthithprathanasana (Standing Prayer Pose)

  2. Utkatasana (chair pose)

  3. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Fold)

  4. Ardha Uttanasana (Halfway Lift)

  5. Phalakasana (plank pose)

  6. Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff pose)

  7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog)

  9. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

  10. Chaturanga Dandasana (four-limbed staff pose)

  11. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)

  12. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog)

  13. Ardha Uttanasana (Halfway Lift)

  14. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Fold)

  15. Utkatasana (chair pose)

  16. Sthithprathanasana (Standing Prayer Pose)


4 Reasons why Sun Salutations are game changing for a yoga practice


1. They are for all levels


If you’re a yoga beginner, Sun Salutations are a great way to warm into your practice with simple movement and easy flows. With the right modifications and variations, most students can do them. The repetitious nature of Sun Salutations means that if you don’t get the hang of the poses the first time, you’ll have a second, third, and all the way to 108 (joking!). Once you’ve nailed the classic Surya Namaskar, there is always ‘A’ and ‘B’, which are slightly more challenging. For more experienced yogis there is also (as always in yoga) much to learn. You could slow it right down and practice jumping into chaturanga instead of transitioning through a low lunge. Or work on your alignment. Or simply enjoy the mental escape. You’ll never be too experienced to gain something from a Sun Salutation.


2. They’re great if you’re time-poor


Each Sun Salutation has around 12 yoga asana, which are simply repeated as many times as you like. You don’t need to commit to a full lesson. You don’t need to carve out more than 10 minutes. If you just need a bit of an energy boost or are feeling anxious or stressed, why not print out a picture of the Classic Sun Salutation flow (there are loads of images available online), stick it somewhere visible and give yourself a small but super beneficial practice. It’s yoga for when you think you really don’t have time for yoga.


It'll warm and awaken your entire body, soften the muscles, open the joints and stimulate the neurological, circulatory and subtle energetic pathways, leaving you feeling energised and ready for anything!

3. You’ll get a physical workout


Aside from the spiritual significance of practising Sun Salutations in the morning, these yoga poses are the ideal way to kick start your energy levels for the day. They gently work the muscles, stretching out the back, legs and arms after a night’s rest, and they realign the body by engaging the core. If you feel up to it, the combination of postures can be a challenging cardio workout if you move quickly (yet mindfully!), flowing into the next posture with one breath. Alternatively, wake up with ease by elongating the flow, holding each posture for several rounds of breath. Whichever you choose, Sun Salutations will tone and work various muscle groups – you can’t avoid those chaturanga push ups, after all!


4. They help to clear your mind


The real gains of Sun Salutations are experienced in the mind. By tuning into your breath and really focusing on it, the flow becomes almost like a moving meditation. The repetition of postures is wonderfully calming – you don’t need to concentrate on anything else. Jump onto your yoga mat, breathe, flow, and breathe again. It’s amazing for calming an anxious mind at the start, or even the end, of the day.


So that’s Sun Salutations in a nutshell. Give them a shot – they really are a game changer!




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Carmel Hendry


Carmel is a travel professional and lover of literature and Latin America. In her day job at a tour operator she whisks people away to far off destinations, while in her spare time she moonlights as a freelance copywriter. You can find her portfolio here https://carmelhendry.journoportfolio.com. While not writing, or dreaming about travel, she can be found playing the piano, cycling or practising yoga. She’s spent the last year learning how to do a headstand, but mostly can be found relaxing in child’s pose! Join her and the Frog Project Community with 15 days of free unlimited classes. It’s just yoga.


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