Sun Salutation – Surya Namaskara

Traditionally the Sun Salutation was practiced in the early mornings at sunrise with the purpose to activate the energy in the body as a preparation to all kinds of powerful asanas. It is highly recommended to start every practice of yoga asanas with Surya Namaskara since it is an excellent general warm up exercise consisting of 12 poses for the spine. Sun Salutation is a sequence of exercises for the spine which gives flexibility to the spine and the other limbs of the body. Since it improves the overall flexibility of the body, Sun Salutation is very healing for anyone, but especially for the elderly and for people who are very stiff. Sun Salutation is not an asana, but a sequence of calm and fluent movements, coordinated with the breath. The purpose of the Sun Salutation is to warm up the spine and to improve the bodies energy.

Surya Namaskara is a good warm up which prepares the body for any following asanas or yoga poses. During Sun Salutation, you use hundreds of muscles, regulate the breathing and centre your thoughts. Sun Salutation is very healing and should be done 6 to 12 times.

Basic instructions

Starting position: Stand straight, with spine erect and shoulders relaxed. Your feet are hip-width apart. Your
knees are straight but not hyper-extended; your arms are relaxed next to your body.


1. Breathe in and out, bring your palms together in front of the chest

– Shoulders and elbows are relaxed
– Knees are straight but relaxed.
– Back of your neck is long.
– Reach up with the crown of your head toward the ceiling



2. Breathe in and reach with your arms—up and backward.

– Your arms are alongside your ears.
– Look diagonally upward, do not drop your head back.
– Knees are straight, hips pushing slightly forward.





3. Breathe out and bend forward, placing your palms on the floor, outside of your feet.

– If you cannot place your palms on the floor with your knees straight, you can bend your knees slightly.
– Reach with your nose toward your knees.




4. Keeping your hands there, inhale and bring your
right leg back as far as possible.

– Place your right knee on the floor and point your right foot
– Push the pelvis forward, without losing the 90 degree angle of your left knee
– Open your chest, look diagonally upward while
palms remain on the floor.

200 hour hatha yoga teacher training
200 hr hatha yoga teacher training

5. Hold the breath and bring your left leg back

– Your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels (push-up position).




6. Breathe out and drop your knees, chest, and forehead to the floor.

– Without moving your body backward, bring your chest down to the floor between your hands. Then bring your forehead to the floor.
– Knees, chest and forehead are touching the floor. Hips are off the floor




7. Breathe in and scoop up, looking up

– Open your chest and look up and back without dropping the head.
– Legs remain on the floor, feet are pointed.
– Do not move your hands as you come into this position.
– Elbows are slightly bent, tucked in toward your body, and your shoulders are pushing down.



8. Breathe out, curl your toes and push the hips up

– Without moving your hands or feet, push your hips toward the ceiling.
– Your hands are flat on the floor, heels can be slightly lifted off the floor. Head is between your arms. Look at your feet, trying to bring your chest to your knees.
– This pose is also known as the ‘Inverted V Pose’



9. Breathe in and bring the right foot forward in between your hands

– Keep your fingers and toes in one line.
– Drop your left knee to the floor, point your left foot, and push your pelvis forward and toward your right heel.
– Look diagonally upward—the same as in Position 4.




10. Breathe out, and keeping your hands where they are, curl the toes of your left foot and step your left foot forward, next to your right foot.

– Nose in between your knees, hands holding your ankles.
– Keep the knees straight




11. Breath in and reach with your hands out and

Arch backward—the same as in Position 2.





12. Breathe out, relax your hands

This completes half a round. Repeat to the left (left leg stepping first back and forward) to complete one full round of Sun Salutation. Perform 6 – 8 rounds, then rest in Corpse Pose.





More information

When you do Sun Salutation it is important to harmonize the movements of your body with your breath. Each inhalation and exhalation triggers the movement of your body and ideally the beginning and ending of a breath coincide with the beginning and ending of a movement. Thanks to this simultaneous moving of body and breath you learn to move your body in a flow and your breath and mind calm down.

Learn more about the Sun Salutation during one of the Arhanta Yoga teacher training courses in the Netherlands or India. Read our page Yoga Exercises and discover more yoga poses as well as the correct alignment and the benefits of the poses.

Read more about the King and the Queen of Asanas: Headstand (Sirsasana) and Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana)