How to practice: Surya Namaskara A (Sun Salutation A)

by Delight Yoga

For thousands of years, Hindus have revered the sun, which they call Surya (the god of health), as both the physical and spiritual heart of our world and the creator of all life itself. The sun has immense power and becoming aware of the effects of the sun on our lives we will begin to awaken our inherent solar forces.

Handed down from sages of ancients times Salute to the Sun, sun worship is presented in many ancients cultures: Egyptians, Mayans, Incas, Aztec, Atlantis, Stonehenge, North Americans Indians, Chinese Yin and Yan. Practising the Surya Namaskara we superimpose this solar energy and form on our present body/mind complex. This is the transforming force for a fuller and more active life and a greater appreciation of the richness of the world we live in.

As we start our Astanga practice with the dynamic flow of Surya Namaskara A and Surya Namaskara B, we set the foundation and tone of our whole practice – it is in fact at this very beginning that we establish the connection of breath and movement (vinyasa), setting the rhythm and the tone, the grace and the stability of the whole practice. And repeating these fluid movements with dedicated awareness for 5 times will make the body ready and set the mind in the correct attitude.

When we understand the ‘correct method’ for practising Surya Namaskara, we will understand the whole Astanga Vinyasa system, as each series of postures, can be simply considered an extension and refinement of the movements of the sun salutations.


Sūrya Namaskāra A Instructions


1. ekam 
Inhale, raise arms overhead, palms touching
Dhristi: to the middle of the thumb (añguṣṭhamadhye)

2. dve
Exhale, fold forward, hands to the floor (Uttānāsana)
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

3. trīṇi
Inhale, lift the head, straighten the spine
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

4. catvāri
Exhale, hands down, float back, elbows close to chest (Caturāṅga Daṇḍāsana)
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

5. pañca
Inhale, roll on  tops of feet, open the chest, straighten arms (Ūrdhva Mukha Śvānāsana)
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

6. ṣaṭ
Exhale, roll over the toes, push back, lift hips, straight arms (Adho Mukha Svānāsana), 5 breaths
Dhristi: to the navel (nābicakre)

7. sapta
Inhale, float forward, feet in between the hands, lift the head, lengthen the spine
Dhristi:  in the middle of the eyebrows   (bhrūmadhye)

8. aṣṭau
Exhale, head to knees (Uttānāsana)
Dhristi : to the nose (nāsāgre)

9. nava
Inhale, come up, raise arms overhead, palms touching
Dhristi : to the middle of the thumb (añguṣṭhamadhye)

Exhale, lower arms by the sides, Samasthitiḥ
Dhristi : to the nose (nāsāgre)


Sūrya Namaskāra A Benefits


- Improves posture 

- Strengthens the spine, arms, legs and wrists 

- Stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders, abdomen, hamstrings, calves, arches and hands 

- Tones the abdomen and stimulates the abdominal organs

- Energizes the body and improves digestion 

- Relieves stress, mild depression, sciatica headache, insomnia, back pain, fatigue and the symptoms of menopause 

- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

- Calms the brain