Sun Salutation: Stretch Out with Some Summer Yoga
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Sun Salutation: Stretch Out with Some Summer Yoga

June 10, 2024 by PathForward
The plank pose is a key part of your sun salutation.
The plank pose is a key part of your sun salutation.

Whether you're just starting yoga or looking for something new in your yoga routine, sun salutations are your ticket to a calm mind and relaxed body this summer. Here's how to greet the summer season while getting yourself energized.

Wait, What's a Sun Salutation?

If you're looking for inspiration to take your summer yoga game to the next level you can’t go wrong with sun salutations. Surya Namaskar is the Sanskrit name for sun salutations. Surya means "sun" in Sanskrit, and Namaskar means "show gratitude" or "to bow down to."

Looking back on ancient traditions, you'll find that sun salutations were a part of Hindu morning prayer and worship rituals. As time passed, these poses became a key part of the yogis' routine of disconnecting from the distractions of daily life to get into a meditative state before starting their yoga practice. It's no wonder, then, that these poses are central to conditioning your body and calming your mind. All in all, sun salutations are a sequence of asanas or yoga poses. The exact poses you'll do will depend on the variation you're performing.

The first sun salutation sequence, sometimes called Surya Namaskar A, has fewer poses and is particularly suited for beginner yoga routines, while the second sequence is longer and has some slightly more challenging moves. You might already know some poses from the start of your Hatha or Vinyasa flow classes. No worries if you're new to yoga, though — while you'll find variations on the sun salutation sequence, a few key beginner-friendly poses will prepare you to greet the sun and summer.

What are the Benefits of Sun Salutation Yoga?

No matter which sequence you opt for, sun salutation yoga poses are there to engage, stretch, and invigorate your whole body while you focus on meditative breathing. You're in for a host of benefits as a result.

First, sun salutations are an ideal way to ease yourself into your yoga practice. Many of the poses are simple to do and easy to build on as you move on to more complicated sequences. And if you want a more challenging cardio workout, sun salutations are there for you, too. You've got your forward folds, your upward-facing dogs, and more. When you perform sun salutation yoga poses at your own pace and go through a few rounds, you can really work up a sweat.

At the same time, sun salutations include a range of asanas, which means you open up all the different areas of your body as you go through your practice. The result? You feel balanced when you get to your final stretch. You can tailor the practice to your personal needs, tweaking things each day to stay in tune with what your body craves at a given moment.

Do the sun salutations in one movement to ramp up your energy or perform it in multiple breaths. It all works to reduce your stress, help you relax, and quiet your mind. You can improve your sleep and feel more rested, refreshed, and at ease during the day if you make these summer-ready stretches part of your daily practice. Oh, and since the sequence honors the sun — you know, that provider of all the energy on the planet — you're in the right place if you're looking for a natural energy boost.

So are you ready to stretch out and start this beneficial practice? Let's dive into some key poses you'll need for the typical Surya Namaskar A sequence. This is the best place to start if you're new to yoga, but if you're more seasoned, taking on the challenge of perfecting your form and alignment as you move through the sequence provides plenty to aspire to.

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, is key to your summer yoga routine. Put yourself at the front edge of your mat, putting your hands at your heart. Keep your feet placed hip-distance apart, and feel how the four corners of your feet connect. Make sure you have a micro-bend at your knees, keeping your spine long, your arms by your side, and your palms facing forward.

Now is the time to pause and set an intention for your practice. Speaking with a Psychic Advisor is a great way to pinpoint intentions to build into your routine this summer. Then, take a breath in and exhale to start the sun salutation.

Uttanasana (Forward Bend)

To come to a forward bend, exhale and release your arms so they move to either side and fold over your legs. Pro tip: pretend you're swan-diving into a swimming pool to get the motion right. This will bring you into the forward bend pose. Get the tips of your fingers in line with your toes and flatten your palms or tent your fingers. If your hands don't reach the floor when you keep your legs straight, you can adjust your position, putting your hands on blocks or bending your knees a little.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Adho Mukha Svanasana, perhaps better known as downward-facing dog, also plays a key role in the sun salutation sequence. To perfect this pose, keep your knees mostly straight. You'll want to press your heels toward the mat while your chest faces your thighs and lift your tailbone. Keep your head relaxed and aligned with your biceps while your spine stays straight.

Phalakasana (Plank Pose)

Plank pose is another pose you can use again and again that forms an integral part of your sun salutation. To get into position during the salutation, plant your palms, then jump or step back into a plank. Ensure you have your shoulders over your wrists, forming a straight line from your head's crown to your heels. You want your upper back open, your butt neither drooping down nor sticking up, and your knees straight while you lift and engage your core to support your spine.

Ready for more personalized tips to lean into self-care this summer? Get a Psychic Reading at PathForward today!

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