How to Do a Basic Sun Salutation
A Sun Salutation is a series of poses performed in a graceful flow and linked by breath—a method called vinyasa. It's a great way to greet the sun any time of the day.
You will need
- Comfortable clothing suitable for stretching and moving
- A calm place where you won't be distracted or disturbed
- A yoga mat or folded blanket
Step 1 Mountain Pose Stand at the front of your mat in the Mountain Pose, with your feet hip-width apart and your weight evenly distributed between them, your spine erect, and your arms at your sides.
Step 2 Arms Reaching Upward Inhale into the Arms Reaching Upward Pose, extending your arms overhead, bringing your palms together, and expanding your chest.
For an extra stretch, arch your spine slightly backward into the Crescent Moon Pose—but don’t overdo it or you might strain your lower back.
Step 3 Standing Forward Bend Exhale into the Standing Forward Bend, bringing your chest toward your thighs and your hands toward the floor.
Step 4 Lung Pose Inhale into the Lunge Pose, placing your hands on the mat on either side of your right foot as you lunge your left leg straight back behind you. Expand your chest as you lengthen your spine.
Be sure your bent knee is aligned directly above your heel; if it juts out over your toes it will cause too much strain on your knee.
Step 5 Plank Pose Exhale into the Plank Pose, stepping your right leg back so your feet are now side by side. Look straight at the floor, keeping your arms extended and your body straight. Hold this pose for 3 to 5 full breaths.
Step 6 Kneel & lower head Exhale, slowly dropping your knees to the floor. Untuck your toes, bring your hips back to your heels, and lower your head to the floor with your arms still extended in front of you.
Step 7 Get on all fours Inhale, slowly bringing yourself up on all fours.
Step 8 Lower chest & chin Exhale, slowly bending your elbows and lowering your chest and chin to the floor so your hands, knees, and feet are touching the mat.
If this pose is difficult to hold, lower yourself all the way down to the mat instead.
Step 9 Upward Facing Dog Inhale into the Upward Facing Dog Pose, pushing your head and ribcage up off the mat by fully extending your arms as you press the tops of your feet into the ground. Your thighs and hips should rise a few inches above the mat.
If you do not have the upper body strength for this pose, lower your knees to the ground, but don’t let your hips sag to touch the mat.
Step 10 Downward Facing Dog Exhale into the Downward Facing Dog Pose, tucking your toes and lifting your hips up and back so that you’re bearing your weight on the balls of your feet. This should create an upside-down V shape with your body. Relax your neck and allow the weight of your head to lengthen your spine.
Step 11 Lung Pose Inhale into the Lunge Pose again, stepping your left foot forward.
Step 12 Standing Forward Bend Exhale into the Standing Forward Bend again, stepping your right foot forward next to your left foot so your weight is on both feet.
Step 13 Arms Reaching Upward Inhale into the Arms Reaching Upward Pose again.
Step 14 Mountain Pose Exhale, completing the Sun Salutation by returning to the Mountain Pose. The sun says right back at ya.
The Sun Salutation originated as a sunrise greeting to the Hindu sun deity Surya.