Sun Salutation A in 10 Easy Steps
It can be really daunting to participate in a yoga class and not know the technical breakdown of a Sun Salutation A, yet be instructed by the teacher to move through roughly 28 high-to-low planks (Chaturanga Dandasanas) in a one-hour power yoga class.
To serve you, here's a Serve Yoga breakdown of this small series of postures we flow through at the start of every class, which includes detailed cues to keep in mind regarding the chaturanga dandasana. Please note, each breath is linked to one movement, creating what we call a 'vinyasa flow'. This foundational series is known to be an integral part of the power yoga practice and builds essential strength & endurance in the arms, back, core & throughout the legs.
Understanding how everything works together as one unit is crucial to really master this series - so a great thing to do is p r a c t i c e it, try out these different Serve Yoga suggestions a few times until it starts to piece together as one breath-to-movement flow. Hopefully these tips help make your Sun Salutation A more accessible and in-fact a part of your practice you now look forward to. :)
1) Downward Facing Dog
From all-fours on hands knees, take an inhale & on your exhale walk your feet to the back of the mat & bringing them hip-width distance apart. Imagine you are squeezing your legs internally towards each other. On your inhale lift your hips away from your wrists and create a flat-back with your spine, on your exhale release the heels towards gravity. (OK to have bent knees, priority is the spine!) Breathe. Bring your hands just a slight bit wider than your shoulders and spread your fingers super wide. Find very broad shoulders!
2) Forward Fold
Inhale, press into your palms & exhale, jump your feet towards your palms. (Engage through the core as you do this!) Inhale, press down through both feet, bend your knees & exhale drop the crown of our head your head close to the floor & forehead to your knees. Breathe! Bring your hips slightly forward!
Take a deep breath in & look up. Gaze forward & pull your shoulder blades towards each other. Exhale to release the shoulder blades down your back to find a flat spine. If you are open through the backs of the legs, feel free to reach hands towards the floor. *If you are newer to the practice, or not as flexible, bring your palms to your thighs, take and inhale and exhale and push your head forward and away from your thighs!
4) Forward Fold
Exhale bring your head close to the ground once again press through the big toes. Your next inhale takes you up to...
5) Mountain Pose
With a deep breath in, reach your arms to the sky and shift your gaze up to feel tall! Exhale to press down equally through both feet and relax your shoulders into their sockets. Engage through the core, lift through the thighs and breathe! Inhale to find a lift through your heart and chest. Exhale takes your head down to...
6) Forward Fold
Feel the blood rush to the head & better circulation throughout your body at this point! Exhale to bring the hands to press onto the floor next to your feet. Inhale to bend the knees, exhale to lift the tailbone higher. Breathe here!
7) High Plank
On your next inhale, step both legs to the back of your mat and spread your fingers wide! Exhale to push the earth away from you and shoot your heels back. Inhale to feel both sides of the body working equally, hug muscle to bone especially in in the arms. Exhale to engage the lower abdominals as much as possible & find one line of energy from the heels through the crown of your head. On your next inhale...
With your breath in, really shift the shoulders far forward and exhale to bend your & elbows lower your chest down - p a u s e when your elbow and wrist find a 90 degree angle and keep your elbows hugging in towards the torso. Exhale to engage the low belly and knit the ribs in. Triceps are working very hard here & pull the shoulders to relax down your back. Breathe! Keep your gaze forward & head looking up.
9) Upward-Facing Dog
Inhale to lift the chest open to the sky & pull the shoulder blades closely together. Squeeze through your thighs & be mindful of the wrists here, ensure your arm muscles are really working. Exhale deeply to press the toes into the mat and soften the glutes a bit. Breathe here!
10) Downward Facing Dog
Exhale to push the earth away once again & inhale to lift your hips high to create your longest spine ever! Exhale to bring your gaze between the thighs. Keep the feet parallel & your inhale draws awareness to press through every part of your palms. Your Sun Salutation A has found a full circle!
Repeat these Steps 1-10 five times to start your practice, or as many times as feels good for you! Prepare the wrists, ankles, elbows & knees before moving through this series to protect those joints! Enjoy!