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Surya Namaskar – Sun Salutation, The heart of Ashtanga Yoga

Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is undoubtedly the most practiced sequence of poses in yoga we could say it is the heart of Ashtanga Yoga system. Much like the sun, this beautiful sequence builds heat in the body and enlivens you with energy to prepare you for the main practice. There are a few variations of Surya Namaskar, in this article, we will explain the Ashtanga style comprised of two sequences; the basic “Surya Namaskar A” and the extended “Surya Namaskar B ”.

Ashtanga Surya Namaskar

A practice session of Ashtanga Vinyasa always starts with the Surya Namaskar sequences. These two sequences Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B remain the same through all the different series from the primary to the most advanced. They allow you to truly connect your body and breath, the postures will become familiar and you can flow through them without thinking, allowing your body to be moved by your breath.

Benefits of Sun Salutation

The traditional sun salutation sequence is designed to build heat in the body and act as a warm-up for meditation or a longer yoga flow. It can also be used as a stand-alone practice to squeeze in between long periods of sitting.

Sun salutation has a wide range of physical and mental health benefits:

  • Boost energy
  • Get a full-body workout
  • Increase blood circulation
  • Warm up muscles for more challenging poses
  • Build muscle tone and strength
  • Maintain a healthy lower back
  • Stretch your legs and arms
  • Improve posture
  • Counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve breath control
  • Helps insomnia
  • Aids in weight loss

Thirty minutes of Surya Namaskar can burn over 400 calories, putting it up there alongside running and rock climbing in terms of hardcore exercise. But this flow is more than just physical exercise. Sun salutations can connect you with a deeper spiritual core by helping you quiet your mind and sync your body movements with your breath.

Steps of Surya Namaskar A

After the opening mantra, any practice of the Asthanga Series (primary, intermediate, or advanced) traditionally starts with a five repetition of Surya Namaskara A.

Steps of Surya Namaskar B

After the initial five rounds of sun salutation A, the series moves into another five repetitions of Surya Namaskar B. These sun salutations are more intense as they add into the flow the Chair Pose and Warrior I creating more leg strengthening and balance challenge.

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