Align your asanas with this step-by-step sequence guide.
Downward facing dog. Warrior. Likely, you’ve heard of the these yoga poses but perhaps you need a refresher on how exactly to execute them. Here, learn the subtle nuances, correct alignment and how to connect each movement with the breath. This will ensure your flow remains smooth, steady and injury-free.
Among the most important sequences in the asana yoga practice, Surya Namaskara is both physically intense but infused with devotional energy. Surya means sun; Namaskara can be translated to bow. Physically, the sequences wake up the body with movement, creating internal heat, energizing, stretching, strengthening and preparing for other poses. Spiritually, these sequences express reverence and gratitude for the life-giving energy of the sun. These movements of the body connect us to the expansiveness of the earth and sky, serving as a form of devotion and prayer to the sun.
Surya Namaskara/Sun Salutation A
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Begin by standing with feet parallel and equally grounded at the top of the mat. Bring palms together in prayer at the front of the heart center.
Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
Inhale, turning palms out and sweep arms up and overhead; this subtle backbend lifts the heart while expanding the chest.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Exhale, fold forward from the hips while maintaining a soft bend in the knees to ease back strain.
Half Standing Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
Inhale, lift the chin, reach the spine long and look forward.
Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Exhale, place hands on the mat and step or jump back while shifting weight forward, slightly bending at elbows. Lower shoulders a few inches, keeping forearms close to the rib cage. Do not collapse the core or sink at the hips.
Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasa)
Inhale, come to tops of the feet while pressing hands down, directly beneath the shoulders. Roll shoulders back and down to broaden the chest and collarbones as the knees, thighs and hips come up and away from the mat.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Exhale, tuck toes under and pull hips up and back into an inverted V shape. Press hands and feet into the mat with equal weight distribution to avoid excess strain on wrists or ankles, while keeping all four points of contact firmly rooted into the earth.
Step or jump feet forward to hands. Inhale, look forward with a flat back. Exhale, bend forward from hips. Inhale, reaching arms up fully and exhale, returning to Mountain Pose.
Surya Namaskara/Sun Salutation B
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Inhale, reaching arms upward. Join palms in prayer above the head, gaze up and sit back as if into an imaginary chair.
Exhale, fold forward. Inhale, reach spine forward.
Exhale, step or jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.
Inhale, coming into Upward Facing Dog.
Exhale, move back into Downward Facing Dog.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana)
Inhale, lift the right leg up in the air, bringing it forward as the left foot spins on an angle, grounding the foot into the mat. With hips squared forward, raise arms up with biceps next to the ears, fingertips reaching to the sky. There will be a subtle backbend in this pose.
Exhale, pivoting the back left foot parallel to the edge of the mat as you turning hips and pelvis to the side. Expand the arms shoulder level, maintaining strength and length in the arms as the shoulder blades separate; your gaze (Drishti) will be over the front middle finger.
Cartwheel the arms forward and all the way down to the top of the mat, press hands down and step or jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana. Move through Upward Facing Dog and back into Downward Facing Dog. From Downward Dog, repeat the Warrior sequence on the opposite side. Once complete, stay in your last Downward Dog for 3-5 cycles of breath. Step or jump forward to the top of the mat, folding forward. Sit back into Chair Pose and rise up to stand in Mountain Pose.
Ensure proper form with this guide for the four-limbed staff pose.