Rise and Shine: Everything You Need to Know About Sun Salutations
Written by Savannah (Copy Compass)
Sun salutations are often talked about in class as we approach new seasons. If you’ve ever wondered what a sun salutation is, and why they’re important, you’re not alone! Maybe you’ve even participated in one of our sun salutations workshops, where we complete 108 sun salutations to harmonize with nature and step into new seasons.
Sun salutations are rooted in ancient tradition, but we love incorporating them into our classes at Twisted Grit, especially because they help us energize our flows and connect to the sunrise or sunset.
What Are Sun Salutations, Anyway?
Otherwise known as “Surya Namaskar” in Sanskrit, sun salutations include a series of yoga poses performed as a flow. Traditionally, they’re practiced while facing the rising or setting sun, paying homage to its energy and vitality. Ready to bask in the glow of the sun and recharge your energy? Here’s how to nail your next set of sun salutations:
- Stand Tall and Strong: Start at the front of your mat with your feet together, and palms pressed together in front of your heart (Namaste position). Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly, grounding yourself into the mat.
- Reach for the Sky: Inhale deeply as you slowly lift your arms overhead, stretching upwards and arching slightly backward. Imagine you’re greeting the sun and soaking in its warmth!
- Dive into Forward Fold: Exhale as you hinge at your lips, folding forward with a straight spine. You can always bend your knees or use props as needed to let your hands ground into the floor or a block.
- Halfway Lift: Inhale and lengthen your spine, bringing your hands to your shins (or thighs). Your back should be flat and parallel to the ground, extending the crown of your head forward.
- Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank Pose): Exhale as you step (or jump) back into a high plank position before lowering yourself down. Keep your elbows hugging your sides to maintain control, and keep your core engaged.
- Upward Facing Dog: Inhale as you straighten out your arms and lift your chest to gaze towards the sky. Ideally, your hands, thighs, and the tops of your feet should be the only parts of your body touching the ground.
- Downward Facing Dog: Exhale as you lift your hips up and back, forming the familiar inverted V shape with your body. Press your palms into the mat with your heels reaching towards the ground (but don’t overdo it). You’ll find length through your spine here.
- Step or Jump Forward: Inhale deeply and step (or hop) your feet between your hands, arriving to a halfway lifted position once again.
- Return to Forward Fold: Exhale as you fold forward once more, releasing any tension in your neck and shoulders. Don’t forget to continue breathing, letting your breaths guide your flow.
- Rise to Stand: Inhale as you slowly roll back up to standing, stacking each vertebra on top of the next. Once you’re back in mountain pose, reach your arms overhead.
That’s it! You’ve done one full round of sun salutations. Now, you can repeat this pose as many times as you like, flowing smoothly from one pose to the next. Some people like to start and end each day with a series of sun salutations – what a great habit to create! Don’t forget to sync each movement with your breath.
Why Are Sun Salutations Important, Anyway?
Other than the fact that they’re like a shot of espresso for your body and soul? Sun salutations are a great way to warm up your muscles and get your blood flowing. They can improve flexibility, strength, and circulation, leaving you ready to tackle the day with energy.
Sun salutations are also a great way to connect with your breath or cultivate mindfulness. As you flow through each pose, pay attention to how your body feels and the rhythm of your breath. Can you keep things steady and consistent? Sun salutations are like a moving meditation.
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a newbie, sun salutations can help you embrace the sun and let your inner light shine bright.