Sun salutations or Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit is very common place in many styles of yoga. There are a multitude of ways to practice them and a lot incorporate different poses depending on lineage or teacher. For the sake of keeping it simple, I am going to show you a basic Surya Namaskar A, which is common to Vinyasa practice. Also, a kneeling version of the same sequence for those that want to stay closer to the ground or not invert with a forward fold or downward facing dog, like people with high blood pressure. Do I have to do this in my home practice, you ask? No! Is it a great way to warm up main muscle groups and joints for practice? Yes! I personally wouldn’t recommend doing these vigorously an hour before bed if your someone who struggles to fall asleep, they can be very energising for some people. This is also a reason you may see them at the beginning of practice, as they can feel like a cup of coffee. For others, it may have a calming effect... find out for yourself how your home practice fits you best. Surya Namaskar don’t just work physiologically on the body, they also works with the breath and mind. You are focusing the mind on breathing, think of it as a warm up for this connection as well. I know I’m talking about breathing again! Well, that’s because it really really important to Yoga practice. If you are doing a sun salutation and you feel like you’re maybe running out of breath or holding your breath, slow down or take a few extra breaths in each pose. Breathing in and out of these poses is just as if not more important as the physical form you are trying to make. Breathing can also make a practice more challenging without changing anything about the physical forms. Here is something to try: 1. A slow sun salutation with 2-3 breaths in each pose 2. A slow sun salutation with 1 long breath to each pose (like the video below) 3. A faster sun salutation with 1 breath to each pose Just notice how the body feels going though each one. The body and the sequence stays the same but the breathing changes. You by no means have to have sun salutations in your home practice, especially if your intentions (reference "getting started" blog post) for practice don’t align with doing them. This is just a brief look at them if you have chosen to include them and the vinyasa style is something your interested in. 😉 Another interesting aspect of Surya Namaskar is this sequence works on energy centres in the body, these are called Chakra’s. More on this another time, though.
Is this considered a complete practice if I stop here? The simple (or complex haha) answer is: It can be if it serves you. That’s kinda what this Yoga thing is about, finding what works for you, listening and running with it. If you want to add more things on then I am going to go over standing Asana (Sanskrit word for pose) and others like seated, supine, and inversions and closing meditation in the next blog posts. If it doesn’t serve you to do sun salutations... then don’t do them! If you think I do 30 of these every morning you would be very wrong 🤣 And this might be a revelation, but, you don’t have to learn or master these to be “good at yoga”. You also don’t need to be able to do very advanced asana or be “flexible”, but (broken record) do it if it serves you! And to come full circle, maybe it serves you when it fulfills your intention? Just something to think about.