Black and white photo of a group of people doing sun salutations (yoga) outside with their arms raised up and their gaze toward their hands. There is an overlay of text that says 'sun salutation a: surya namaskar a' and one beneath it that reads 'themigrantyogi.com'

sun salutation a – surya namaskar a

(Last Updated On: June 17, 2019)

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Sun Salutation A is by far the cornerstone of any vinyasa yoga practice. The series is traditionally practiced in the morning to greet the new day and to loosen up the body first thing.

It’s a great energizer and mood booster, not to mention, it’s my favorite way to start the day when I’m traveling. Sometimes I wind up going into different postures, sometimes I wind up doing a few rounds, and sometimes I’m just not feeling it and I’m done after one.

It doesn’t matter! A little bit of movement in the morning to get your joints going and blood pumping is better than none.

surya = sun

namaskar = to bow to

Black and white photograph of a group of people outside practicing yoga.  Their hands are up toward the sky and they are gazing at their hands.  An instructor is standing with her back to the camera, long dark curly hair.  In the background are the people practicing yoga.  There are trees in the background but they are not easy to see because the photo is sharp black and white.
That’s my mom in the white (front)!

In a vinyasa class, the sequence is used as a warm-up for the body. Sun A’s get your heart pumping and aid in opening up the areas that need a bit of prep to be able to practice more advanced poses. Sometimes referred to as a ‘vinyasa,’ one round of Sun A is used as a transition between poses in a vinyasa-style class.

In Sanskrit, vinyasa means ‘to place in a certain way.’ The prefix ‘vi’ means ‘in a certain way,’ and ‘nyasa’ means ‘to place’. In a vinyasa practice, this refers to the sequence of poses and the transition from one pose to the next.

The poses are traditionally practiced with one movement syncing with one breath. Here’s a tutorial for Sun Salutation A, the cornerstone of a vinyasa yoga practice!

tadasana – mountain pose

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in tadasana, mountain pose.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Tadasana
  • Bring your feet together so that your second toes are parallel – heels slightly parted, base of big toes touching
  • Engage your quadriceps so that your kneecaps lift
  • Find a slight internal rotation of the thighs
  • Turn your palms to face forward, for external rotation of the upper arms, keep your hands active
  • Keep your neck long and shoulders down & back

urdhva hastasana – raised hands pose

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in urdhva hastasana, essentially mountain pose with your hands raised overhead.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Urdhva Hastasana
  • Maintaining the alignment of tadasana, on an inhale raise your arms over your head
  • Keep your arms and hands active, slightly turning your pinkies toward each other to externally rotate the upper arms
  • Draw your shoulders down and lengthen your spine from neck to tailbone

uttanasana – standing forward fold

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in uttanasana, standing forward fold.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Uttanasana
  • On an exhale, hinge from the hips and fold forward. Palms can be together and come down in front of your midline, or you can swan-dive your arms as you fold
  • Bend your knees if you have tight hamstrings
  • Ground down into your feet and bring your weight further toward the balls of your feet – this will bring your hips over your ankles
  • Let the back of your neck be soft

uttanasana tutorial

ardha uttanasana – half forward fold (aka half lift)

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in ardha uttanasana, half forward fold or half lift.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Ardha Uttanasana
  • Bring your fingertips or hands to the floor or your shins
  • On an inhale, straighten your arms and lengthen your spine forward
  • Direct your gaze six inches in front of you, being mindful not to compress the back of your neck

chaturanga dandasana – low plank pose

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in chaturanga dandasana, low plank.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Chaturanga Dandasana
  • On an exhale, plant your hands into the ground and either step back to plank pose, or float your legs back.
  • If you are floating your legs back, come directly into chatarunga
  • Elbows stacked over wrists and upper arms parallel to torso
  • Keep one long line of energy from your heels to the crown of your head

chaturanga tutorial

urdhva mukha svanasana – upward facing dog

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in urdhva mukha svanasana, upward facing dog.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  • On an inhale, come onto the tops of your feet and let them press down
  • Press into the ground and straighten your arms
  • Engage your legs so your knees and thighs are lifted off the floor
  • Draw your shoulders back, shoulder blades in and toward one another
  • Keep the back of your neck long
  • Lift through the sternum and broaden across the collarbones
  • Isometrically spiral your hands outward to externally rotate your upper arms

up dog tutorial

adho mukha svanasana – downward facing dog

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in adho mukha svanasana, downward facing dog.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • On an exhale, come back on to the balls of your feet, press your hips up and back
  • Hands and feet shoulder width apart, firmly rooted into the ground
  • Shoulders away from your ears
  • Stay long in the neck
  • Press thighs to back of the room, press chest to thighs

down dog tutorial

ardha uttanasana – half forward fold (aka half lift)

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in ardha uttanasana, half forward fold or half lift.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Ardha Uttanasana
  • On an inhale, bend your knees. Exhale, step or float your feet to the top of the mat
  • On an inhale, straighten your arms and lengthen your spine forward
  • Stay long throughout your spine and be careful not to compress your neck

uttanasana – forward fold

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in uttanasana, standing forward fold.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Uttanasana
  • On an exhale, sink back down into a forward fold
  • Keep your head heavy and the back of your neck soft

urdhva hastasana – raised hands pose

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in urdhva hastasana, essentially mountain pose with your hands raised overhead.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Urdhva Hastasana
  • On an inhale, come to stand with the arms overhead
  • Keep your arms and hands active
  • Draw your shoulders down and lengthen your spine from neck to tailbone

tadasana – mountain pose

Calligraphy stick figure of a person standing in tadasana, mountain pose.  The ink is black and it is a solid white backdrop.
Tadasana
  • As you exhale, bring your hands to heart center palms touching

From here you have options. You can transition into a different pose. Or, you can practice more rounds of Sun A if you want to keep building heat and warming your muscles.

sun salutation b

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