The Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskara A, is the foundational posture sequence from which the majority of modern yoga postures have evolved. Most yoga classes include this sequence in some way, shape, or form — and yet detailed instruction is rarely offered. To memorize and begin to master the Sun Salutation is a huge first step toward achieving a personal yoga practice.

Check out these helpful tips, below.


1) Push Forward Before Lowering to Chaturanga
When your body is parallel to the ground in plank pose, shoulders are over the wrists. As you prepare to lower down to chaturanga (where body is parallel to ground but with elbows bent), glide the whole body forward a couple of inches before lowering down. This action brings elbows over the base of the wrists. Make sure to keep the front of your shoulders lifted as you lower to avoid collapsing the chest, and prevent shoulder / back injury.


2) If You Can’t Hold Chaturanga: Take Cobra Instead of Upward DogFor safe transition from plank pose, down to chaturanga, and into upward facing dog–you must have the upper body and core strength to hold chaturanga for 5-10 seconds. If not, the safest option for you is cobra pose (feet press flat on floor, shoulders away from ears, elbows over the wrists and hugged in toward ribcage). Use Cobra pose to build strength in your core and upper body and you’ll get to upward dog safely in time.

3) Palms Under Elbows in Cobra
There are variations of cobra pose where you’d place hands under shoulders, or even in front of  shoulders. During a Sun Salutation, however, the ideal position for safe transition from cobra pose to downward dog is keep the base of your palm directly beneath your elbow. Keep heads of the arm bones/fronts of shoulders lifted as you inhale.  Now you’ll have less risk of shoulder injury when you exhale  and press back to downward dog. Sliding hips back to heels before downward dog is an even more gentle way to make this transision; especially on your lower back

4) Keep Shoulders Stable Throughout
The scapulae, the shoulder blades, should rest flat on your back during the entire sun salutation as they would when you stand in tall in tadasana (mountain pose). Keep your shoulders stable, drawn down away from the ears as you move fluidly through your sun salutation. Shoulders should never be hunched up or collapsed. A bonus of stable shoulders is a broad, open chest.


5) Rounded Back? Bend Your Knees in Downward Dog
If you tend to collapse forward into your hands in downward dog, or if your lower back is rounded; bend your knees. Still rounded in the lower back? Bend them even more! As you bend knees, lift your sitting bones higher up than you think you should while you press both palms and finger pads down and forward. Now get more length from your pinky-fingers to hip creases and avoid sinking the chest!

Start with 2 or 3 sun salutes and work your way up to 10 or more! Let your breath guide you. Namaste.