Sun Salutation: How To Take Your Stretching Routine One Step Further

Sun Salutation

Ever heard of the Sun Salutation?

A few months ago, I went through the reasons why stretching your body was a habit you’d want to get into and I suggested a basic daily routine.

Today, I’d like to take it one step further with this fantastic yoga routine: the Sun Salutation.

I haven’t practiced yoga enough to pretend to be an expert. I’ve had many classes with teachers practicing different styles – more or less intense.

The one exercise that stands out for me is the Sun Salutation.

Why Is The Sun Salutation So Good?

Because:

  • it’s not just one exercise but a series a movements that flow and you can repeat seamlessly
  • it stretches and relaxes in turn and in a complementary fashion most muscles in your body (back, arms, legs, chest)
  • it helps increase your flexibility and tone your body muscles
  • it helps blood circulation and is said to have numerous health benefits (benefiting the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems)
  • performed at a gentle pace, it has a calming and relaxing effect which can help with meditation
  • performed quickly, it’s also a good cardio-vascular work-out which can help with weight loss
  • it’s good for children too and can be done as a family exercise
  • it’s a routine you can remember easily and perform fairly quickly for maximum results

How To Perform The Sun Salutation?

First, let’s take a peek at what it looks like.
There are several variations of the Sun Salutation. This one seems popular.

Below is another good video (in a nice setting… I want to go to that beach too!) with just the right amount of information on each pose. The sequence is completed in 2:48 mn but the video goes on to show you how you can just repeat the sequence again and again.

Here are the key points to remember about how to perform the sequence:

  • Inhale and exhale as it is recommended for each movement. It will help you reach each pose.
  • Do NOT force the stretch. Relax your muscles, inhale or exhale as recommended and let your body do what it can. At each repetition, you will notice an improvement.
    Take extra care if you’re pregnant or suffer from an injury.
  • Perform the movements slowly to benefit from the stretch and calming effect of the sequence. Later, when you’re familiar with it and want a cardio workout, you can speed it up.

A few words about each step (if you prefer to read rather than watch the video every time):

  1. Prayer Pose:
    Sun Salutation Prayer PoseFeet together. Place both palms together in front of your chest. Exhale.
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  3. Raised Arms Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 2Inhaling, stretch both arms up and arch back, neck relaxed, legs straight, hips forward, contracted buttocks.
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  5. Hand to Feet Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 3Exhaling, extend your arms, bend forward from the hips, do not round the back, aim to  bring your hands either side of your feet. Remember, do not force it. Aim to rest your forehead on your legs.
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  7. Equestrian Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 4Inhaling, extend right leg as far back as possible, drop right knee, point right foot toes, lift chest and look up.
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  9. Plank Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 5Retain your breath, bring left leg back, align neck, back, hips in a straight line, look at the floor.
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  11. Eight Limbs Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 6Exhaling, arch spine, drop forehead, chest and knees to the floor.
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  13. Cobra Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 7Inhaling, extend chin, lower hips, chest forward, arch back, contract buttocks, arms slightly bent, shoulders down, legs together, point toes, look up.
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  15. Downward Dog Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 8Exhaling, curl toes under, raise hips and lower head, straight legs, align back and arms to form a triangle.
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  17. Equestrian Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 4Inhaling, step right foot between your hands, drop left knee, point left foot toes, lift chest and look up.
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  19. Hands to Feet Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 3Exhaling, bring left foot forward next to right foot, bend down from the hips, chest towards your thighs, tuck head in as in position 3.
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  21. Raised Arms Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 3Inhaling, stretch both arms up and arch back, neck relaxed, legs straight, hips forward, contracted buttocks, as in position 2.
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  23. Mountain Pose:
    Sun Salutation movement 12Exhaling, gently lower your arms by your side, feet together, heels and toes touching, chin parallel to the floor, stand tall. Ready to start again the sequence with position.
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When To Perform The Sun Salutation And For How Long

Get into the routine of doing the Sun Salutation daily.

Try to repeat the sequence twice at first. That’s not much: 5 minutes.

Then increase progressively according to your needs and the time you can impart up to 12 repetitions.

If you don’t do any other form of stretching (although you should, ideally daily and most definitely before and after exercise), then just get into this one habit: a daily Sun Salutation.

How Not To Perform Yoga

To finish on a cheeky note… Here’s something I do not recommend you do but I do recommend you watch 🙂


Comments

Sun Salutation: How To Take Your Stretching Routine One Step Further — 8 Comments

  1. Hi Isabelle, I never tried doing this sun salutation and I will have some try of this.
    Anyway, thanks a lot for step by step one as one of my guidelines in doing it.

  2. I absolutely love the sun salutation. I have a small book of yoga movements that we travel with and we do different ones daily. It’s all picture based. Surprisingly, yoga is the perfect daily exercise (calming one) that I am able to do with my now 5 year old daughter. I always feel so good after a stretch especially if i can’t get another more rigorous exercise routine in.

    • Hi Annie, I do the sun salutation with my children too. It’s amazing how receptive they are to it. We give each pose a silly name to help them remember and make it more fun. We’re under strict instruction from our karate teacher to improve our suppleness and that does the trick. I agree with you, it feels wonderful and energizing after a stretch.

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