Sun Salutation Pose


Sun Salutation Pose: Dynamic yoga for the entire body

Translated from two Sanskrit words, Surya and Namaskar, Sun Salutation pose is an ancient yogic asana sequence made up of twelve yoga postures that are done in a specific order with each set (*Surya stands for the Sun, revered by some as the heart of the world, and Namaskar means to bow and/or adore).  Sun Salutation pose (Surya Namaskar) provides various health benefits for the human body and mind, from head-to-toe.  Learn more about Sun Salutation pose and see posture dialogue with instructions below.

Practicing Surya Namaskara

Traditionally, Sun Salutations are practiced in the beginning, morning part of the day to properly greet the sun upon rising from rest but, Surya Namaskar can also be done and/or is safe and beneficial to do at any part of the day and even evening time hours.  In addition, Sun Salutation pose makes for a perfect warm up posture to compliment any yoga practice (or fitness practice for that matter), helping to prepare the body and mind at the beginning of any series of yoga asanas and other sets of exercises and work-out routines.  For a majority of yoga schools, studios and instructors practicing Surya Namaskar around the globe, Sun Salutations are usually done in sets of 3-5 with the first few sets done at a slower speed and the last 1-2 sets performed at a little faster speed.

Saluting the sun in Surya Namaskar

For maximum benefits with Sun Salutation Pose, keep both of your eyes closed throughout the entire sequence and bring your mind to your breath by following the queues (provided in the instructions listed below) for when to breathe in [with your nose], when to breathe out [of your mouth] and when to hold your breath entirely so that you can effectively synchronize your breath with the movements of your body and your blood flow.  Results from Surya Namaskar are uplifting and yet at the same time, grounding.


12-Step Instructions for Surya Namaskar aka Sun Salutation

1. Stand with your FEET a little-less than hip width distance apart, close your eyes and focus your mind on your breath

2. Bring your HANDS together, PALMS touching, at the center of your CHEST in prayer (Namaskar), INHALE through your NOSE and lift both your ARMS up to the sky with palms facing up, your CHEST arched and your BACK slightly bent (*there should be no strain in or on your lower back -be gentle with your lower back- lift up from your waist and lean your upper body back as you arch your chest)

3. EXHALE out of your MOUTH, bend forward from your lower SPINE, bring your ARMS down toward the floor and place your HANDS on the floor in front of you with PALMS facing the floor

4. Next, step your LEFT FOOT back, place your LEFT KNEE on the floor, bend your RIGHT KNEE (*right thigh should be parallel to the floor), INHALE through your NOSE, tilt your HEAD BACK and lift your NOSE UP 

5. HOLD YOUR BREATH, lift your LEFT KNEE off the floor, step your RIGHT FOOT back to meet your left foot and, with both feet on the floor, charge your UPPER BODY forward, lift your HIPS UP and roll your weight on to your TOES (Downward Facing Dog)

6. EXHALE through your MOUTH and lower your BODY to the floor, touch your KNEES to the floor FIRST then touch your your CHEST on the floor

7. Place your HANDS by the side of your CHEST (*with your PALMS facing/touching the floor) INHALE through your NOSE, lift your UPPER BODY UP and back, arch your CHEST and tilt your HEAD back and UP to the sky (Cobra Pose)

8. HOLD YOUR BREATH, push your BODY up (to Downward Facing Dog Pose) with both FEET on the floor, both PALMS on the floor, lift both your HIPS UP and roll your weight on to your TOES

9. STILL HOLDING YOUR BREATH, walk your LEFT FOOT forward, place your RIGHT KNEE on the floor, bend your LEFT KNEE (*with LEFT THIGH parallel to the floor), tilt your HEAD BACK and lift your NOSE UP

10. Step your RIGHT FOOT forward, parallel with your LEFT FOOT and EXHALE fully out of your MOUTH with your BACK flat, spine STRAIGHT and touch both your PALMS to the floor in front of your FEET

11. INHALE through your NOSE, lift your BODY and ARMS up together towards the sky, arch your CHEST, bend your UPPER BODY BACK and tilt your HEAD with your PALMS open and facing UP to the sky

12. EXHALE through your MOUTH, move your HEAD, BODY and ARMS forward to stand straight and bring your PALMS together in prayer at the center of your CHEST

❤ That completes one full set of Surya Namaskar and you can choose proceed to the next set immediately by following Steps 1-12 listed above or, you can choose to leave your HANDS in prayer for a few moments prior to beginning the next set (*try to do at least 3 sets in a row if possible and, once you are done with your last set for Sun Salutation Pose, gently lower your HANDS down by the side of your body, PALMS OPEN and facing forward and take a few moments in stillness to feel the effects from the sequence).

Posture Notes and Suggestions for Practice

Surya Namaskar: Asana by asana

Sun Salutation Pose consists of eight different postures with four of the eight postures being repeated during each set, for a total of twelve yoga asanas altogether.  See the yoga asanas for Surya Namaskar numbered below (in Sanskrit).

The 12 yoga asanas of Surya Namaskar

  1. Pranamasana
  2. Hastauttanasana
  3. Hasta Padasana
  4. Ashwa Sanchalanasana
  5. Dandasana
  6. Ashtanga Namaskara
  7. Bhujangasana
  8. Parvatasana
  9. Ashwa Sanchalanasana
  10. Hasta Padasana
  11. Hastauttanasana
  12. Pranamasana

Practice makes progress

Try to implement a regular practice of Surya Namaskar into your daily yoga so that you can reap (and live) the therapeutic and healing benefits of this ancient yoga posture.  Remember, any conscious effort to practice, regardless of how small (or short in duration of "time") is practice so be kind and be conscious with your self and your practice.

Suggestion for your practice

Give three days to your self.  Upon rising (after your normal morning routine with water/hydrating and bathroom duties but, ideally before eating any heavy foods), practice at least 4 sets of Sun Salutations.  During and after these three days, notice how you feel (in terms of energy levels, mood, hunger, thoughts, sleep and digestion) and consider noting these feelings in a yoga journal of some sort for your further review and analysis.

Questions, comments, thanks and praise

Send a message with any posture questions or comments that may come up, always more than happy to hear from you and further support you.  Blessings and, Namaste. 


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Side Notes

Sanskrit is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism.. See more ➝ 

Surya Namaskara: A Technique of Solar Vitalization.. See more ➝

Can I Practice Sun Salutations in the Evening?.. See more ➝ 

Yoga for Kids: Learn Surya Namaskar (slightly different dialogue).. See more ➝ 

Practice Sun Salutation Pose at Yoga Retreats Around the World.. See more ➝