If you want to start your yoga practice within the Ashtanga system, Surya Namaskar A is definitely the right choice for you.
What Is Sun Salutation A?
Sun Salutation A is a fast-paced series of eleven linked poses. This Sun Salutation consists of seven different poses, with the poses at the conclusion (8–11) that represent the four poses from the beginning of this mini-sequence.
Sun Salutation is recommended as a morning practice. Sun Salutations are a fantastic mini-sequence (vinyasa) to transfer the energy throughout your entire body because of their dynamics. It is a great way to wake up your body and provide it with the energy it requires for all of your daily responsibilities.
Of course, practicing Sun Salutations during the day is beneficial as well.
Some people do not get used to exercising as soon as they wake up. They have different habits, which is totally ok; we are all different. Some of my clients attend the afternoon yoga lessons with me, and we do Sun Salutations as part of them. So, the time of day does not matter while practicing Sun Salutations.
The key to incorporating Sun Salutation A into your regular practice is your determination. Given that one set takes just under two minutes, it’s difficult to find an excuse not to practice the Sun Salutations A.
Following the Sun Salutation A, the Ashtanga Yoga practitioners perform Sun Salutation B and Hatha Yoga practitioners perform the Sun Salutation C. You may learn more about the other two Sun Salutations in this article where we describe each one in depth.
If you are new to Sun Salutations, our advice is to start slowly and progressively increase the number of sets.
Begin with three, or sometimes five, sets. Don’t rush to increase the number of sets because the goal is to make Sun Salutations a daily practice. Feel free to perform three or five sets of Salutation to the Sun for a defined amount of time (a month of daily practice). When you feel that your body has strengthened and your breathing has been linked with your gaze and movement, you can raise the number of sets from five to seven.
Repeat the number of repetitions for a longer period of time. Feel free to increase it whenever you feel motivated to. The total number of repetitions may range between ten and fifteen.
If the number of repetitions in fifteen series seems impossible to you, consider that Sun Salutations are performed 108 times in classic yoga manuals.
It is essential to recognize the unity of your breathing with your gaze, the movement of your body, and muscle contraction (using the bandhas) during the practice of the Sun Salutation A.
It is important that you use the bandhas during Sun Salutation A. It may be difficult at first, but you should never give up on using the bandhas. Because of their activity, you not only build your complete body more quickly, but you also do the sequence more fluently because your entire body’s muscles are continually functioning.
You begin the Sun Salutation in Tadasana (mountain pose). In this pose, your gaze is focused at the tip of your nose. Exhale in this pose.
After the mountainpose, enter the downward bend (Uttanasana) where your gaze is directed at the tip of your nose. Exhale in this pose.
Naturally, from this pose, it continues into the forward stretching pose (Ardha Uttanasana) where the gaze still remains focused at the tip of the nose. Inhale in this pose.
From the forward stretch pose, you jump backwards or step backwards in Chaturanga (Chaturanga Dandasana). Your gaze is directed at the tip of your nose. Exhale in this pose. If you find the jump a challenge at first, feel free to step back.
From Chaturanga, move into the Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). In this pose, your gaze is directed between your eyes. Inhale in this pose.
From this pose, you move to the Downward Facing Dog. Your gaze is directed to your navel. Exhale in this pose. This is the pose that you will stay in for five breaths. If you work with an instructor, the instructor will count to five for you. Otherwise, count for yourself.
Step forward or jump. In doing so, you return to the forward stretch pose (Ardha Uttanasana). Your gaze returns to the tip of your nose. Inhale in this pose.
From Ardha Uttanasana, move to Uttanasana. The gaze remains focused at the tip of your nose. Exhale in this pose.
From Uttanasana pose, you return to the mountain pose with namaste gesture, and your gaze remains focused at the tip of your nose. Exhale in this pose.
The mountain pose represents the starting and ending poses in this sequence.
It is also important that you master your breathing in addition to your gaze, movements, and muscle contractions. It is more important to master the breathing first. Only after that will come the gaze and movement.
You start the sequence with an exhalation. So, in the mountain pose, you make the first exhalation. After that, each subsequent pose has its own rhythm of breathing (inhalation or exhalation).
This Sun Salutation is great for detoxification, flexibility, and, of course, for strengthening your entire body, especially your arms, shoulders, and core. However, you should not forget the fact that by practicing these mini-sequences, you achieve a fine stretch of your legs and back.
Sun Salutation A is certainly a challenging sequence. However, compared to Sun Salutation B, it is a simpler sequence of poses and is less physically demanding.
If you want to know the difference between these two Sun Salutations, familiarize yourself with all the poses that are found in Sun Salutation B by reading the following article.
Finally, we would like to draw your attention once more to the fact that when practicing this Sun Salutation, you need to balance your breathing with your gaze, movement, and muscle contractions.
When you achieve the fluidity of your breath with gaze and movement, the sequence itself will look like a kind of dance during your practice. Everything will be harmonious, and you will have the feeling that you are practicing a kind of fluid meditation.