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What Are Sun Salutations? Start Your Day Right With These Moves

Priyanka

Posted on Jul 17, 2021

It’s a simple question that we get asked a lot as yoga instructors.

What is a Sun Salutation and why is it important? After all, this simple series of asanas is included in almost every single yoga practice from beginner to advanced.

Obviously, there’s something important about it, right?

The answer is yes.

In my yoga class on myYogaTeacher, Beginner’s Guide to Sun Salutations, yogis learn all about this wonderful series of yoga poses and how impactful they are to a regular yoga practice and your day!

Not an MYT member yet? You should definitely check it out! Sign up for your free 2-week trial and get access to 35+ different group yoga classes every single day, at all times of day!

In the meantime, let’s talk about this traditional series of poses and how they help you start your day – and yoga practice – right!

What are Sun Salutations?

The Sun Salutation is a practice involving a flow of 8 different yoga poses linked together in a graceful sequence.

Because the sequence moves the body in all different directions, sun salutations help clear the energy centers of the body and heat it up so all the muscles and joints are ready for deeper poses. 

Sun salutations are also invigorating as a stand alone sequence! If you don’t have a lot of time for a full yoga practice, 5 minutes of sun salutations is a surefire way to rev up your body, boost immunity, and stretch out tight muscles.

The 8 basic poses of a Sun Salutation sequence

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

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 Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

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Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

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 Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) 

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Plank Pose

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Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

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 Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)

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Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

man-in-adho-mukha-svanasana-downward-facing-dog-yoga-pose.jpg

The movement from posture to posture is accompanied by an inhale or exhale. You’ll experience this in my Beginner’s Guide to Sun Salutations class. It’s really fairly simple, and there are plenty of ways to modify the poses to meet your fitness level!

Benefits of Sun Salutations

I briefly discussed some of the reasons we incorporate these poses into a yoga practice, but here’s a more in depth explanation of the benefits of sun salutations!

Body and mind preparation

First, I want to talk about how the sun salutation sequence can be a stand alone practice to start your day. Many people (even avid yogis) don’t want to wake up before the crack of dawn and spend thirty minutes to an hour doing yoga.

If yoga feels like a burden, then you won’t do it. And we definitely don’t want you to feel this way about your yoga practice!

You don’t need to practice yoga for a long time to prepare your mind and body for the day. The sun salutation flow is an excellent way to get in even 5-10 minutes of yoga in the mornings. And the best part is, once you memorize this easy sequence you:

  • Don’t need a computer, phone, or tv
  • Don’t need any voice guidance
  • Can do it almost anywhere
  • Don’t necessarily need a yoga mat or props

You can still reap the benefits of yoga with this flow. It awakens your mind, your muscles. It gets your breath going and revives you mentally, physically, and emotionally. And you can perform these moves throughout your day if you need a little pep in your step during that afternoon slump.

If you’re starting this flow in the morning, you might want to modify the first couple of rounds to allow your body time to loosen up!

Sun salutations build internal heat

So another great benefit of sun salutations is their ability to quickly warm up your muscles, ligaments, and tendons in preparation for bigger, deeper yoga poses.

Jumping straight into deep, engaged postures is not beneficial.

Sun salutations give our body time to rev up, kind of like a car before a big race! These poses allow for the release of synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints. They also require you to engage your core, which is an important aspect of almost all yoga poses. 

Just as importantly as releasing lubricating fluid for your joints and warming up your core, sun salutations gently stretch out tight or sore muscles. This prevents injury when practicing those deeper poses I mentioned.

Sun salutations clear energy pathways

Maybe this is a little woo for you, but the energy centers in your body are a real thing!

If you’re not familiar with your chakras, here’s a brief description of all of them:

  1. Root chakra - responsible for your sense of security and stability, located at the base of your spine
  2. Sacral chakra - located just below your belly button, responsible for sexual and creative energy and your emotions
  3. Solar plexus chakra - located in your stomach region, responsible for confidence, self-esteem, and helps you feel in control of your life
  4. Heart chakra - all about your ability to love and show compassion and empathy
  5. Throat chakra - helps you communicate verbally, express yourself
  6. Third eye chakra - located on the forehead between the eyes, linked to your intuition and imagination
  7. Crown chakra - located on the top of your head and represents your connection to self, others, and the universe/divine

Every asana from the sun salutation flow touches on one of these energy centers! And clear chakras promote stress relief, clear mind, increased focus, more creativity, more feelings of security and safety, and being more in touch with your emotions, feeling more compassionate.

Who wouldn’t want to feel this way?!

Combined with your breath, the sun salutation sequence will bring so much life to your...well, life!

If you haven’t taken the jump into the wonderful world that is myYogaTeacher yet, I’d love to have you check out one of the several yoga classes I teach, Beginner’s Guide to Sun Salutations!

Not sure yet? That’s ok! MyYogaTeacher offers a free 2-week trial! You can sign up for it here, completely risk free!

I’d love to see you on the mat!

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