Updated: Jan 16
Are you someone that focuses on the technique of every sun salutation? Or do you tend to see these as a warm up for the rest of your practice?
I personally think sun salutations can serve as a great warm up for the body and way to bring the focus of your mind inwards and towards your breath. But also are extremely useful from a technique perspective to improve your flexibility, strength and alignment in yoga postures and transitions.
Whether you’re looking how to learn sun salutations for beginners or to develop and learn sun salutations A and B in Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga here are three key steps that can help you progress in your practice.
In this blog we’ll explore why you should learn sun salutations off by heart and how you can use them to kick start your home yoga practice.
Step 1: Practice Sun Salutations Every Day
Physically sun salutations warm up our bodies by dynamically moving through a series of yoga postures. After a few rounds of sun salutations we feel heat rising in the body, our heart beating a little faster, and start to feel more flexible and strong.
On a more subtle level sun salutations help us focus on linking our breath with each movement. Allowing us to focus our mind on our yoga practice, feel more focused and less stressed.
As you start to practice sun salutations every day—or at least more regularly—you’ll quickly learn the movements off by heart. Once you don’t need to be guided through the sun salutations A and B and are able to practice on your own you can really allow your focus to sink down into your movement and breath.
Once you’re familiar with the physical yoga postures and transitions you can start to bring more of your attention to maintaining a full and steady breath. Learn more about the importance of the breath in yoga.
Sun Salutations for Beginners
Sun salutations are typically one of the first things you’ll learn in an ashtanga, vinyasa or hatha yoga practice. There are easy sun salutations for beginners to do that can be gradually built on as you advance your practice.
Are you new to yoga and want to be guided through a beginner sun salutation sequence? Practice along with the below sun salutation video for beginners.
Sun salutations are also a great entry point into building your own home yoga practice. They give you a clear and simple framework to do without the guidance of a teacher.
If you enjoyed learning these sun salutations at home you can continue with the seven days of yoga challenge to help develop a home yoga practice.
Step 2: Develop Your Technique and Strength with Chaturanga
If you bring the right focus and attention to your yoga practice, you can build arm and shoulder strength in all your sun salutations. Helping you learn how to practice Low Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) and how to work on jump back and jump forwards to transition lightly throughout an entire sun salutation.
In the below video you will learn how to work on sun salutation A (Surya Namaskara A) to build the strength for Low Plank (Chaturanga) and jump backs.
You'll learn the technique and alignment on how to use every part of the sun salutation to build the strength in your Chaturanga effectively.
You’ll notice that we explored not only the action of lowering down into Chaturanga, but all aspects of the sun salutations where the arms and shoulder strength are used.
Plank pose and chaturanga help you engage your arm and shoulder strength. The movements within the sun salutation, that can be repeated several times to isolate the areas in your body you need to engage for a good technique in your Chaturanga pose.
This is very helpful to understand when developing your beginner sun salutations to an intermediate and advanced practitioner.
Step 3: Learn Ashtanga Yoga Sun Salutations in Sanskrit
As you start to progress with your yoga practice and are familiar with sun salutations A and B you might be interested in learning the traditional Sanskrit count. Sanskrit is the ancient language that forms the root of many Indian languages, and is used within classical yoga.
The Ashtanga Primary Series begins with five rounds of Sun Salutation A and B. If you’re just beginning with this practice see if you can start to build up your practice of Sun Salutations up to three to six times a week. Learn more about Ashtanga yoga for beginners.
The below video is a guided Ashtanga Yoga practice of the Sun Salutations A and B (Surya Namaskara A and B) with the traditional Sanskrit count. This practice includes little cues and guidance, allowing you to focus on the movement and your breath, as well as learn the Sanskrit count.
See if you can link your breath to one breath per movement. Allowing over time each movement to take the same amount of time.
Good luck and happy practicing!
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