When we think of the word Yoga, it’s easy to picture push-ups and back bends, downward dogs and warrior poses. I think we even like to chuckle at the thought of our friends contorting themselves into fish pose and falling out of tree pose. Yoga has a universal appeal that is undeniable and something you cannot ignore. It makes us feel alive and vital in the best of times. It relieves low back stiffness and helps us manage stress in the worst of times. Whatever images the word ‘Yoga’ draws up for you, I think we can all agree that modern yoga, which is mostly ‘Asanas’ or poses, isn’t going anywhere.
There is one sequence of poses that is so common that you can hardly go to a yoga class without practicing it. Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar in sanskrit, is a series of specific yoga poses linked together in a flowing sequence. Each pose can be practiced on its own, but it is commonly taught as a connected moving series at the beginning of class. Surya Namaskar is a popular sequence because it targets large muscle groups and helps students get warmed up before tackling poses that demand more flexibility and focus. This is why hip openers and tricky balancing poses often come later in class. It just makes sense to warm up with something accessible and familiar first.
Sun salutations are made up of about 12-15 poses depending on who you ask. There are many variations on the sequence because different teachers have added their own ideas and flair over the last 100 years or so. There are Sun Salutation A’s, Sun Salutation B’s, and even Moon Salutations which are similar but are usually practiced at a slower pace. Below is an outline of the basic sequence. If you follow along, you can see the alternating pattern of forward bending and backward bending poses. This is coupled with regular inhales and exhales to help us feel connected to the natural rhythm of our bodies and our energy levels. Remember you can stop by Tru Yoga on South Ave for any of our regularly scheduled flow classes to get a taste of Surya Namaskar for yourself.