Sun Salutation (prayer in motion)


The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is a dynamic series of yoga postures used to greet and honor the Sun as an aspect of God and vital to all creation. In Sanskrit, Namaskar means ‘to bow to’ or ‘to adore.’ Each Salutation begins and ends with the Anjali mudra (joined hands) in front of the heart center to show respect and honor.

“The sun salutation is a prayer in motion. It allows us to use the body as an instrument of higher awareness, so that we can receive wisdom and knowledge. The ancient yogis taught that each of us replicates the world at large, embodying rivers, seas, mountains, fields…stars and planets…the sun and moon. The outer sun, they asserted, is in reality a token of our own “inner sun” which corresponds to our subtle, or spiritual, heart.” —author unknown

The Sun Salutation consists of 12 positions, which correlate, with the 12 Sanskrit names of the sun. As one round ends, another one begins, to make a circle. Sun Salutations are often practice to warm-up at the beginning of yoga class or as a practice in itself. Transition from one posture to the next is coordinated with either an inhalation or exhalation.
It can be practiced slowly for a more calming effect or more rapidly to make it more invigorating. There are many varieties of the Surya Namaskar.
The most common Sun Salute consists of the following postures:

  • Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
  • Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  • Lunge
  • Plank Pose
  • Chaturanga Dandasana (Knees-Chest-Chin)
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra) or Urdhva Muhka Svanasana (Upward facing dog)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

Benefits of Sun Salutations:

  • Gets the heart pumping, raises body heat, and improves circulation
  • Brings body through a full range of motion, lubricating/loosening joints
  • Brings flexibility to the spine and stimulates/nourishes the nervous system and organs
  • Strengthens and tones muscles in legs, back, arms and core
  • Breath coordinated with movement calms the mind

Sun Salutations can be done at any time and anywhere but it is optimal to be outdoors at sunrise and/or possibly facing the sun (east).
Below are 2 videos to help learn the Sun Salutation. Namaste.