Surya Namaskar A, or Sun Salutation A, is the first sequence practiced in the Ashtanga Series. It is performed in 5 rounds at the beginning of your practice, linking breath to movement to form a rhythm.
Benefits of Surya Namaskar:
- Strengthens the body and improves muscle tone
- Improves posture
- Improves flexibility
- Increases blood circulation and warms up the body
- Helps relax mind, and build mental focus
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Work on creating a smooth rhythm, linking your breath and the movement between the poses.
When you reach Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog), hold the pose for 5 complete breaths, inhale and exhale; before moving through to the next pose. This will really fire up your body!
Surya Namaskar A is a fairly simple sequence, but there can be some difficulty for beginners. The most complicated part of the sequence is from Ardha Uttanasana transitioning down to Chaturanga. To go from a standing forward fold to a push-up in one breath can be intimidating, but it can be broken down into a few more breaths to make it more approachable.
[From Ardha Uttanasana]
(If your hands don’t quite reach the ground yet in Ardha Uttanasana, bend knees and fold forward until you can place both palms firmly on the ground)
Exhale: Step right foot to the back of the mat in a High Lunge position. Keep left knee stacked over left ankle as you straighten the right knee and press down into the toes.
Inhale: Step left foot back to right foot in a High Plank position or the high end of a Push Up. Keep the body long and back straight, pressing firmly through the palms.
Exhale: Lower down to Chaturanga Dandasana, a low Push Up position. Ideally, this is:
- Gazing straight ahead, but with a relaxed neck; don’t strain it!
- Shoulders are strong and squared, and pushed back
- Elbows at bent 90° with the arms squeezed into the torso
- Back is strong and straight,
- To lower down with more control, bring the knees to the floor first.
- Lower down directly onto the mat; keeping shoulders stacked over the wrists, and just lay stomach and thighs on the mat, keeping the chest lifted as much as possible.
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