Yoga, the ancient Indian practice that involves body, mind, and soul, originated in the country thousands of years ago. Such a long period of time has elapsed since then, but its popularity continues to grow far and wide. No longer is it restricted to India’s frontiers and has spread across the world. People experimented with it as per their traditions and needs and thus, evolved various forms of Yoga, such as Yin, vinyasa, power, ashtanga, etc. One of the most crucial and prominent Yoga routines is ‘surya namaskar’, also called sun salutations. In literal terms, it means welcoming the sun, and is generally performed in the morning.
The traditional sun salutation is a collection of 12 powerful poses. When done in a sequence at the pace of the breath, it paces up the heartbeat, stretches the body, strengthens muscles and calms the mind. You can pace up or down the routine as per your needs and fitness level. Just like Yoga itself, ‘surya namaskar’ also has many forms or variations. In Ashtanga Yoga, which was popularised as the modern-day form of traditional Yoga, it has two variations: sun salutation A and B.
Sun salutation A consists of 9 poses and is generally suitable for beginners. While sun salutation A has 12 poses and can be done by those who are in the intermediate or advanced level in their practice. However, beginners can also do it. So let us see one-by-one on how to do the two variations:
Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A)
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There are 9 poses in this sequence and try to do them at the pace of your breath. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
- Stand straight with your legs hips-distance apart and hands to your sides.
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana): With legs as they were, extend your arms upward and make your palms touch each other.
- Forward Fold (Uttanasana): Fold forward and either touch your feet with your palms. If you have enough flexibility, hold your lower back legs with your palms.
- Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Gently raise your inner body to have a flat back. Look straight while palms continue to touch either the feet or your knees.
- Plank (Phalakasana): Next come in a plank pose, with your palms under your shoulder and legs strong. Make sure your spine is straight and your belly tucked in.
- Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana): Bring your legs down, your arms continue to be straight and look up so as to have a bend in your back.
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha Svanasana): Tuck your toes and lift your hips to come in a pose that looks like an inverted ‘V’. Make sure your head hangs heavy so as to not put strain in your neck.
- Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Walk or jump to the top of the mat and again come in the half-forward fold position.
- Forward Fold (Uttanasana): Next fold downwards for the forward fold.
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Rise up back into the mountain pose.
- Bring your hands down and repeat this sequence any number of times you want.
Sun Salutation B (Surya Namaskar B)
Here’s a step-by-step guide to this sequence:
- Stand straight with your arms on the sides and legs hips-distance apart.
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Extend your arms up to come in the mountain pose.
- Forward Fold (Uttanasana): Now fold downward to come in a forward fold, or uttanasana. With enough flexibility, you will be able to touch your head on your knees.
- Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Rise to a small degree to have a flat back. Your hands will be either on your feet or on your knees.
- Plank (Phalakasana): Next, come in a plant position.
- Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana): From there, bring your legs to touch the floor, as your arms remain straight. Look up and there will be a slight arch in your back.
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha Svanasana): Next come in the downward-facing dog position.
- Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I): Step your right leg forward in a lunge, while your left foot makes 45° angle with your lower leg. Extend your arms up. This is the warrior I pose.
- Plank (Phalakasana): Again come in the plank position.
- Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana): Continue with the sequence and come in an upward facing dog.
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha Svanasana): This is the next pose you have to do.
- Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana I): Again come in warrior I position but this time, your left leg will come forward.
- Plank (Phalakasana): Next is the plank pose.
- Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana): Again come in upward facing dog
- Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha Svanasana): Next comes the downward-facing dog pose.
- Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Come in a half-forward fold or Ardha uttanasana.
- Forward Fold (Uttanasana): This is your next pose
- Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Rise up into mountain pose
- Bring your arms down and stand straight
It is generally recommended that sun salutations or surya namaskar should be done in the morning. However, if you have paucity of time, do it as per your convenience for its amazing health benefits.
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