Sun Salutation A: An Overview and Breakdown

Sun Salutation A, also known as Surya Namaskara A, is a foundational sequence in Vinyasa Yoga. It is a series of postures that are performed in a fluid, dynamic sequence, traditionally at the beginning of an Ashtanga yoga practice.


The word "Surya" means sun, and "Namaskara" means greeting or salutation, so Surya Namaskara A is a salute to the sun. It is a beautiful and invigorating way to start the day, connecting the body and breath in a moving meditation.

The sequence consists of 9 postures, which are performed in a specific order, with each movement coordinated with an inhale or an exhale. Here's a breakdown of the sequence:

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Begin standing at the top of your mat with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides, and palms facing forward.

  2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute): Inhale and sweep your arms up overhead, palms facing each other.

  3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): Exhale and fold forward from the hips, reaching for the floor with your hands.

  4. Ardha Uttanasana (Halfway Lift): Inhale and lift your chest halfway, lengthening your spine and gazing forward.

  5. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose): Exhale and lower your body to the floor, keeping your elbows close to your sides.

  6. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose): Inhale and press into your hands, lifting your chest off the floor, and straightening your arms.

  7. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose): Exhale and lift your hips up and back, coming into an inverted V-shape.

  8. Ardha Uttanasana (Halfway Lift): Inhale and come forward into halfway lift once again.

  9. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): Exhale and return to standing forward bend.

To complete the sequence, inhale and sweep your arms up overhead to return to Tadasana.

The Sun Salutation A sequence is typically repeated several times, with each round building on the previous one. It is designed to warm up the body, stretch and strengthen the muscles, and improve circulation and flexibility.

In the Ashtanga yoga tradition, Sun Salutation A is often used as a warm-up before moving on to the more challenging asanas (poses) of the Primary Series. However, it can also be practiced on its own as a standalone sequence, as a daily morning practice, or as a way to energize the body and mind during a break in the day.

In conclusion, Sun Salutation A is a beautiful and dynamic sequence that is a cornerstone of the Ashtanga yoga tradition. It is an excellent way to warm up the body, stretch and strengthen the muscles, and calm the mind. Whether you are an experienced yogi or a beginner, incorporating Surya Namaskara A into your daily routine can bring numerous benefits to your physical and mental wellbeing.