Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence: How-To Tutorial & Alignment Tips

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Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation is a sequence of asanas performed to build heat in the entire body. This sequence is often used as a warm-up routine for Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Power Yoga, but can also be done as a complete practice in itself.

Surya Namaskar coordinate movement with breath: Each extension of the body corresponds to an inhale, while each bend corresponds to an exhale. Throughout the practice, breathing is done through the nose only.

There are many variations of Surya Namaskar. The sequence in this tutorial is the most basic version – the Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence, or Surya Namaskar A.

Traditionally in Ashtanga Yoga, Sun Salutations are performed in sets of five. However, if you are new to the practice, you may wish to start with two rounds and build your stamina from there. If you intend to use Sun Salutations as a standalone practice, then you can perform as many rounds as you would like – this is also a very effective way to calm your mind, boost energy, stretch and strengthen your entire body before you start your day.

There are 9 poses in the Ashtanga Sun Salutation A. Follow the steps in the tutorial to familiarize yourself with the essential asanas and their alignment. In case you would like a convenient cheatsheet, you can get it at the link below.

Get cheatsheet HERE


Summary of Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence

To begin, bring yourself to the starting position Samasthiti, mountain pose

Starting Position: Mountain Pose

Sanskrit Name: Samasthiti

Sanskrit Count: NA

Breath: NA

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Samasthiti

1. Upward Tree or Upward Salute

Sanskrit Name: Urdhva Vrikshasana / Urdvha Hastasana

Sanskrit Count: Ekam

Breath: Inhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Urdvha Vrikshasana / Urdvha Hastasana

2. Standing Forward Fold

Sanskrit Name: Uttanasana

Sanskrit Count: Dve

Breath: Exhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Uttanasana

3. Half Standing Forward Fold

Sanskrit Name: Ardha Uttanasana

Sanskrit Count: Trini

Breath: Inhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Adha Uttanasana

4. Four-Limbed Staff Pose

Sanskrit Name: Chaturanga Dandasana

Sanskrit Count: Catvari

Breath: Exhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Chaturanga Dandasana

5. Upward Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Sanskrit Count: Pancha

Breath: Inhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Urdvha Mukha Svanasana

6. Downward Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Sanskrit Count: Sat

Breath: Exhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Adho Mukha Svanasana

7. Half Standing Forward Fold

Sanskrit Name: Ardha Uttanasana

Sanskrit Count: Sapta

Breath: Inhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Adha Uttanasana

8. Standing Forward Fold

Sanskrit Name: Uttanasana

Sanskrit Count: Astau

Breath: Exhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Uttanasana

9. Upward Tree

Sanskrit Name: Urdhva Vrikshasana

Sanskrit Count: Nava

Breath: Inhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Urdvha Vrikshasana / Urdvha Hastasana

Back to Starting Position: Mountain Pose

Sanskrit Name: Samasthiti

Sanskrit Count: NA

Breath: Exhale

Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A) - Samasthiti

By the end of a few cycles of Surya Namaskar A, you should be rather warmed up. Continue your practice either by doing more Surya Namaskar A, or practising the Surya Namaskar B series.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. Remember that you can take this tutorial offline with our 1-page cheatsheet – this can be used as a quick reference to help you remember the sequence as well as alignment cues whether you are practising at home or in the studio.

Get cheatsheet HERE


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Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A)
Ashtanga Sun Salutation A Sequence (Surya Namaskar A)

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