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Your Step-by-Step Guide to Flowing Through Surya Namaskar A

If you only have 10 minutes to squeeze in your practice, flow through this ancient series of yoga postures, commonly known as Sun Salutations.

AUGUST 13, 2021

It’s been said—and memed—that “Movement without awareness is exercise. Movement with awareness is yoga.”

It’s easy to aspire to the latter. (Don’t we all?) It’s not always easy to achieve it, though. Especially when you’re taking yourself through your practice without a teacher cueing a sequence. Or when you’re desperately trying to cram 10 minutes of your practice in as your weekday meeting marathon looms.

There’s actually an ancient yogic antidote specifically designed for those mornings. It’s a series of yoga postures known as Surya Namaskar A, more commonly known as Sun Salutations. This set sequence of postures dates back more than 2,500 years to a time when ancient cultures revered the sun. Salutations are believed to have been regarded as a literal salute to sunrise and were perceived to ready the body for all that would happen during daylight. (Had they only known about Zoom…)

This sequence of postures is essentially a series of prescribed motions that begins and ends with Tadasana (Mountain Pose). The poses take you through all manner of stretches, forward folds, and backbends that build heat and happen in a rhythmic cadence that’s aligned with your breath. The start of an inhale initiates your transition from one pose to the next, followed by a lull in both the breath and body as you come into the pose, with the beginning of an exhale acting as a cue for your next transition. Breath, movement, and stillness fall into a rhythm. The trajectory of the sequence, like that of its namesake star, has a predictable arc and is cyclical, making it easy to become quietly absorbed in the looping repeated motions. A moving meditation.

Photo: Baleika Tamara

You may already be vaguely or intimately familiar with Surya Namaskar A but haven’t committed the poses and their order to memory. That’s OK! We lay it all out for you here. Less thinking. More flowing.


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