Asanas – Poses – Intro – Sun Salutation Series

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Welcome to the Third Limb of Yoga, Asanas. Today we are learning Sun Salutations! Asana (AH-sa-nuh), or “pose” in Sanskrit, is what most new Yogis think of when they hear the word “Yoga” 

Whether Asana and Yoga are truly synonymous is up to interpretation. As we have learned, Asana is just one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Some deeply philosophical Yogis consider Asana practice as only one part of Yoga, and its main purpose is to increase flexibility and stability and minimize pain, in order to prepare the body for meditation and then the Upper Limbs of Yoga. Many other Yogis only enjoy the physical Asana practice, and do not care to pursue learning more about the other practices. Whether Asana is your entire practice or just a part, depends on what works for you and your journey!

Asana/Yoga classes come in many styles. These range from more active styles like Vinyasa which combines breath and movement into a rigorous workout that seems like a dance, to Restorative Yoga where relaxing poses can be held for up to 10 minutes. 

Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is a traditional Asana series – Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutations Series. We recommend adding to your morning routine as recommended by the traditional Yogic texts – try three on each side. We are covering a modified Sun Salutations C that adds extra chest opening. This Asana sequence is extremely common in most Vinyasa and “flow” classes.

Today I will introduce the full traditional Surya Namaskar sequence, and then over the next few days, we will cover each of these Asanas or poses in detail. Click the photos or links for a detailed breakdown of the pose. Whether you are new to Yoga or an advanced Yogi, please feel free to add your own experience with making these poses more accessible

Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutations

Begin standing with feet grounded, toes together, standing up straight
Tadasana – Mountain Pose

Tadasana – Mountain Pose

INHALE – Raise your arms over head, interlock fingers if comfortable, and come into
Talasana – Palm Tree OR Standing Backbend

Talasana – Palm Tree Pose

EXHALE – Swan dive forward and bend at the hips, keeping knees bent if more comfortable, and come into
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend

Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend

Hold your breath as you step your left leg back and drop your knee to the mat to come into Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge, Right foot forward OR stay up on the ball of your left foot and balance in Ashta Chandrasana High Lunge, Right foot forward for knee injuries.
INHALE your torso and arms up into High or Low Lunge

Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge

EXHALE arms down to the mat perhaps pausing briefly in runner’s lunge, INHALE and step your right leg back to come into
Phalakasana – Plank

Phalakasana – Plank Pose

EXHALE and lower slowly down to the mat into
Chaturanga Dandasana – Four-limbed Staff Pose OR Ashtanga Namaskara – Knees-Chest-Chin

Chaturanga Dandasana – 4-Limbed Staff

INHALE push your hands into the mat and lift torso into gentle backbend
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog OR Bhujangasana – Cobra

Urdhva Muhka Svanasana

EXHALE push your hands strongly into the mat and lift your hips into
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog
TAKE A FEW BREATHS, perhaps bend one knee and the the other to walk the dog” into the pose

Hold your breath as you step your left leg forward and drop your right knee to the mat to come into Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge, Left foot forward OR stay up on the ball of your left foot and balance in Ashta Chandrasana High Lunge, Left foot forward for knee injuries.
INHALE your torso and arms up into High or Low Lunge

Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge

EXHALE step right foot to meet the left, and keep bent at the hips to come back into
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend. Perhaps bend your knees deep enough to rest torso on thighs

Uttanasana – Standing Forward Bend

INHALE – Raise torso and arms, perhaps interlocking fingers into
Talasana – Palm Tree OR Mountain Pose, arms over head

Talasana – Palm Tree Pose

EXHALE arms back down to
Tadasana – Mountain Pose

Tadasana – Mountain Pose

REPEAT switching legs for low lunge – first round of Sun Salutations starts with lunge with right foot forward, then left. The second sound of Sun Salutations starts with lunge with left foot forward, then right.

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You may want to consider getting blocks for modifications to various poses as we progress through our detailed breakdown of each pose in the Surya Namaskar Sun Salutations Series.

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Top 5 Yoga Mats

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Please comment to share your experience with this Sun Salutations series or if you have any questions! I enjoy Talasana / Palm Tree after Mountain / Tadasana in my practice, since I have tight arms, neck/shoulders, and chest, from sitting at a desk, and this pose stretches out all three. What did you think? Which poses did you use when two options were offered? Would you benefit from more detailed instructions to get into each pose?

Please stay tuned for our series the next couple days breaking down the correct expression of each pose in detail. Always remember, be kind!

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49 thoughts on “Asanas – Poses – Intro – Sun Salutation Series

  1. I have only taken a handful of classes in the past few years, so I consider myself a new yogi. I really enjoyed the Sun salutation flow this morning and can see easily adding this to my daily routine. I added in some cactus arms to open up my chest in runner lunge and then lifted into warrior 1 for some variation.

    1. I’ve only taken a few yoga classes at my gym years ago so I’m definitely still a beginner. But these poses were somewhat familiar and I was pleasantly surprised how quickly everything came back to me! I also have tight shoulders/chest from weightlifting and stress so I really liked Talasana/Palm tree as well.

    2. Oooo I LOVE the cactus arms suggestion, thanks so much! I used cactus arms in my low lunges for some extra chest/heart opening this morning. Great idea.. might make this cactus arms variation a part of my own sun salutations morning routine <3

  2. I do my yoga in the evening, I guess I am saluting the sunset instead of the sunrise! This hasn’t been in any of the beginner videos I’ve been doing so I added it to the end of my routine today. Thanks!

  3. I am a beginner a yoga as well. I find this series really beneficial for the tension from sitting at a desk looking at stones all day! Could you please explain in more detail the difference between the high & low lunge on the ball of the foot and how it relates to knee injuries? Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your question Heidi!!

      If you click the photos or pose name, it should take you to detailed instructions for each pose. The main difference between High and Low Lunge is the placement of the back leg/knee – off the ground vs on the ground. Low lunge puts a lot of weight on the supporting knee. For those with knee injuries (or even those without injuries, but using a thin yoga mat) this pressure on the knee can cause pain. Risking pain or injury is not worth the added quad stretch you’d get moving from high to low lunge… plus high lunge is an added balance challenge.

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