The Sun Salutation yoga sequence is generally practiced at the beginning of a Vinyasa class (This
may vary depending on the type of yoga you are practicing).
Sun Salutations awaken the body and get your muscles warm and ready for practice. It is also a time to come into your breath and set your pranayama breathing for the rest of class.
When you begin to flow in sun salutations from Mountain to Downward Facing Dog, in and out of Warrior I, and back to Mountain, it will feel as if you are dancing which can make your practice more of an art and more enjoyable.
Two Types of Sun Salutation Yoga
Sun A generally comes before Sun B and is less challenging but very important. This is where your body first starts to warm up as you come into your intention for class.
Begin in Downward Facing Dog and step or hop to the front of your mat into a forward fold. Lift your torso halfway up to a straight spine and then fold back down towards your thighs.
Lift up to Mountain, stretching your arms to the sky and then fold back down to a forward fold. Lift again halfway up and fold back down to your legs.
Jump or step back to high plank. Lean forward onto your tiptoes and lower down to low plank (chaturanga) with your elbows pressed into your body and your arms at a 90-degree angle.
Lift your torso up into Upward Facing Dog on the top of your feet. Pull your shoulders back onto your spine and gaze up towards the ceiling.
Use your abdominal muscles to pull you back into Downward Facing Dog with your hips to the ceiling and your abdominal muscles pulled in. Then repeat as many times as desired.
In every single pose, it is important to suck in your belly towards your spine, engage your thighs and tuck your tailbone down towards the floor. It seems like a lot of multi-tasking but once you get in the habit of it, your practice will change drastically.
Sun salutation yoga sequence B is very similar to Sun A, but a bit more challenging since your body is already warmed up. Sun B involves chair pose to work your thighs and Warrior I to work your entire body.
Begin in Downward Facing Dog and step or hop your feet to the front of your mat just like you did for Sun A. Halfway lift up and then fold back down to your legs.
Instead of lifting to Mountain, squat deep into your knees, and lift your chest arms up to the sky. This is called Chair pose, hence you should feel as if you are about to sit a chair behind you.
Fold forward to a Forward Bend, then halfway lift with a straight spine. Fold again into a Forward Bend. Jump or step back to high plank and chaturanga again ending in downward facing dog.
Bring one foot forward to meet your hands and rise up to Warrior I. Hold for as long as desired before taking another chaturanga into Downward Facing Dog.
Repeat on the other foot. Begin the sequence again as many times as desired for your practice.
Sun Salutation Yoga Benefits
Improves blood circulation throughout the body
Stretches and strengthens muscles which can result in a deeper and more beneficial yoga practice.
Refreshes the mind, making you ready to take on your day
When done quickly it can be a calorie burning aerobic exercise
Sun salutation yoga can prepare you for more complex poses
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