The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaska) is a traditional sequence that links balancing, forward bending, back bending and centering poses together through movement and breath. Surya Namaskar are traditionally performed in the morning to greet the new day. The sequence of postures can be a complete practice in itself or can prepare you for a longer asana routine.
1. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Distribute your weight evenly over both feet. Breathe slowly. Find your center.
2. From grounded legs, inhale and raise your arms out to the side and up until they are parallel to your ears in Urdhva Hastasana (Volcano Pose). Keep your legs strong and your head between your arms, as you gently arch backward.
3. Exhale, hollow your belly, and dive toward the floor into Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). If your lower back is tight, bend your knees. Lower your arms and place your hands on blocks, on your thighs, or if you are flexible enough, place your fingertips on the floor shoulder width apart and in line with your feet. Keep your legs firmly engaged. Keep the weight of your body evenly distributed between the front, back, and sides of your feet.
4. Exhale, bend your legs and step the left leg back into a lunge. If reaching the floor is difficult or if your back leg does not extend easily, place your hands on blocks.
5. Step the right leg back to meet the left in Plank Pose. Your wrists should be flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart and your feet should be hip distance apart. Take a full breath in as you lengthen through your spine.
6. Exhale, lower your knees to the ground, followed by your chest, keeping only your hips elevated. (Take care to place your chest directly between your hands so that the hips can be lowered into the proper position without shifting other parts of your body). Keep your elbows close to your body. Next, lower your hips and stretch your feet back so that your body is resting flat on the ground.
7. Inhale and draw your legs and feet together, toes pointing back in Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Raise the chest as you roll your shoulders down your back. Gaze upward but do not force. Instead, adjust your spine until it feels even and balanced. As you extend your legs strongly away from your hips, slide your pelvis forward into your lifting chest.
8. Exhale and without interrupting the flow of movemen, lift your hips and bring your body into a pike position then straighten your legs into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward- Facing Dog). Shift your weight from the toes to the heels as you try to press the heels toward the floor. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs. Relax your neck.
9. Inhale and step the right leg under the torso placing the foot between the hands in a lunge.
10. Exhale and bring the left food up to meet the right as you straighten your legs back to Uttanasana. Bend your knees as necessary to protect your lower back. Check to see that the weight of your body is evenly distributed between the front, back and sides of your feet. Allow your head, neck and shoulders to relax forward, your knees, surrendering into the fold.
11. Finally, reaching your arms out wide to your sides, inhale and slowly raise your torso. Upon reaching an upright position, bend back gently without straining, remembering to keep your arms in line with your ears and your legs straight and come to Urdhva Hastasana.
12. Exhale and slowly lower your arms returning to Tadasana. Remain here for a few breaths feeling the movement of energy through your body.
Repeat the sequence, this time stepping back with the right foot instead of the left in position 4, and continue to alternate with each repetition.