How do I perform the yoga sun salutation?

Sadie Nardini
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

This question could spark a yogi debate, since there are so many variations on this warm-up sequence, and everyone seems to think theirs is the correct one. Google 'Sun Salutation' and you'll see what I mean--and possibly become more confused in the process. Let's clear it up. I say: if you're in healthy alignment, and you're doing something to move your body, then more power to you! The exact poses and order isn't as important to me as getting connected to your breath, warming the muscles, and gaining the strength and flexibility this series promotes. Here's a simple sequence you can follow to begin your day in balance no matter what time you practice! Come to stand at the front of your mat in Mountain Pose. Inhale, reach arms overhead. Exhale, fold forward with bent legs if necessary to keep your spine long. Inhale, look forward with a firm low belly to support your back, Exhale, step back to Downward Dog. Inhale, draw in your belly and come forward to Plank (top of a pushup) with knees up or down if you're building arm and core strength. Firm your belly up--no sagging in the low back. Exhale, bend your elbows over your wrists and lower into Chaturanga (anywhere from 1 inch to elbow height down--no lower). Place your hips on the earth and inhale as you arch your chest up into Cobra. Exhale, use your knees and abs to press back into Down Dog. On your next exhale, step or walk forward between your hands. Inhale, look forward. Exhale, fold. Inhale, look forward, prepare. Exhale as you firm your low belly and reach out and up to stand. By the time you inhale, you're filling your pose, standing back in Mountain Pose with arms overhead. Exhale, return hands to your sides. Repeat this 3-10 times, adding in standing poses after the Down Dog as you wish.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.