Understanding Sun Salutations

If you have practiced any kind of yoga before, you are probably familiar with the Sun Salutation sequence. Many teachers begin their classes with a series of sun salutations, so it is one of the first things that most students learn.

But, what is a Sun Salutation?

Here is a bit of information about the history and practice of the Sun Salutation:

sun salutations in yoga kreuzberg

photo by Fern

The Sun Salutation (in Sanskrit, the Surya Namaskara–literally, the salute to the sun) is composed of 8 different asana, and 12 posture changes. Some asana are repeated in the sequence. The postures are performed with specific breath sequencing, which gives the sequence a rhythmic and meditative quality. In some traditions, students pause to chant a mantra in between Sun Salutations. The amount of Sun Salutations in a yoga class varies from teacher to teacher, but, for some, the ´daily limit´ is 108! In the Ashtanga tradition, solstices and equinoxes are celebrated with 108 Sun Salutations.

It is said that the sun salutations sequence was incorporated into yoga by yogis who were distressed by how their bodies atrophied during hours and hours of meditation. The Sun Salutation was discovered as an extremely efficient and meditative way of keeping the physical body healthy, which would allow the yogi to meditate with ease. This is because the sequence hits all of the major muscle groups in the body, stretching and strengthening the upper and lower body while simultaneously lengthening the spine.

If you are new to yoga in Berlin, or anywhere else for that matter, the sun salutation is a great asana sequence to begin practising at home. If you start performing three or four of them each morning, first thing after you get out of bed, you will see your flexibility improve significantly. This is also a great way to start the day quietly and touch base with your body and emotions. You can make the practice more challenging for yourself by slowing down your breathing and your movement. As always in yoga, practising with concentration and intention is the most important piece–try to keep your senses ´in ´ your body and you will be amazed at what benefits you feel from this ancient practice.

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One Comment


    The more I practice Sun Salutations the more I like them.
    108 is a little too much

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