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Yoga 101: Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations – or Surya Namaskar –  is a sequence of exercise that are traditionally performed at sunrise in India.  However, now they are performed at any time of the day and are an ideal warm-up for the start of a Yoga class.

The sequence mobilises the entire body. Sun salutations stretch and elongate the spine, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is performed  in rapid succession and coordinated with breathing. Sun salutations are often performed with increasing speed until the whole body is warm and ready for further asana practice. There are numerous variations of the sequence and with more experienced classes, a few standing postures can be added into the sequence once participants are warm.

Sun salutation poses/exercises

Caution

If you suffer from low blood pressure, then you may need to come up slower from the forward bends. If you suffer from high blood pressure then do not elevate your hands above your head. Rather keep them shoulder height or in prayer position. (In Sanskrit, ‘prayer position’ is translated as Anjali Mudra.)

Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A)

Points to remember in this sequence are to:

  • Coordinate each posture with your breathing and move smoothly from one posture to the next.
  • Try to inhale and exhale a fraction of a second before the movement.
  • Inhalations and exhalations should be of equal length.
  • Make the necessary adjustments so that your breath and movement are synchronised as one.
  • Practise slowly to start and then speed up when necessary.

Movement

  • Start in Tadasana (which is translated as ‘mountain pose’) with your hands in Anjali Mudra (prayer pose).
  • Inhale in Urdhva Hastasana (raised hands pose).
  • Exhale in Uttanasana (standing forward fold).
  • Inhale during the lunge.
  • Exhale in Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog).
  • Inhale in plank pose.
  • Exhale in knees, chest and chin pose.
  • Inhales in Bhujangasana (cobra pose).
  • Exhale in Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog).
  • Inhale during the lunge.
  • Exhale in Uttanasana (standing forward fold).

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

During Tadasana, the spine is stretched. The muscles supporting the trunk are straightened and the legs, abdominals and shoulder muscles are strengthened. This pose helps to strengthen flat feet and helps with sciatica. Mastering the art of standing correctly eliminates fatigue and clears the mind. In addition, it helps with headaches, insomnia and lowering blood pressure.

Technique

  • Stand straight with your feet together and your big toes touching. Spread your toes out and press them firmly into the floor.
  • Tighten your kneecaps, draw in and tense your thigh muscles. Contract your hips.
  • Pull your naval I, tense your abdominal muscles and keep your spine and neck in a straight line.
  • Lengthen your neck by pulling the crown of your head upwards and tucking in your chine slightly towards your chest.
  • Your shoulders should drop down and your arms should be placed alongside your body with your forearms facing in and your fingers stretched.
  • Hold for between one and three minutes.

A note to beginners: If you feel unstable, stand with your feet slightly apart.

Check your alignment with your back against a wall. Make sure that your heels, sacrum and shoulder blades are touching the wall but ensure that the back of your head isn’t touching the wall.

Urdhva Hastasana (Extended Mountain Pose)

This is a variation of Tadasana:

  • Lift your arms above your head. Make sure that your palms are together or parallel to each other.
  • Your gaze should follow your hands with your head slightly raised. Do not arch your upper back. You can also interlace your fingers, extend your arms straight Infront of your torso.
  • Turn your palms away then stretch your arms upward perpendicular to the floor so that your palms face the ceiling.
  • Cross your arms behind your back and hold each elbow with the opposite hand. Repeat by reversing the cross of your forearms.

Contact Trifocus Fitness Academy

Do you want to learn more about Yoga asanas and how to teach others how to do these? Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Yoga Certification Course is the perfect vehicle for you to achieve this goal! For more information, please follow this link.

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