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Sun Salutation Breakdown

Surya Namaskar

Cues: Stand with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Engage your thighs and butt. Roll your shoulders back and down. Lift your chest towards the ceiling keeping the chin parallel with the ground. Soften your throat and tongue. Inhale and exhale while bringing your hands to prayer position. 

Modification: For balance or knee problems, stand with your feet parallel (about two fists apart).

                    Mountain Pose 

Step 1


Cues: Inhale - raise your arms towards the ceiling with your palms facing each other. Press your palms firmly together. Arch your back slightly while gazing at your thumbs. Keep engaging your thighs and butt while pressing your feet into the floor. 

Modification: If you have shoulder or neck issues, raise your arms parallel with each other, avoiding your palms pressed together. 

Upward Salute 
(Urdhva Hastasana)

Step 2


Cues: Exhale as you sweep your arms to the sides. Fold forward from the hips keeping the knees straight (do not lock them). Bring your palms to the back of your ankles or on the mat beside your feet. Press your feet into the ground as you lift your tailbone to the ceiling. Feel the stretch in your upper back and the back of your legs. 

Modifications: If you cannot reach the ground grab your elbows instead. Bend your knees slightly if you have back issues.  

Forward Fold

Step 3


Cues: Inhale while pressing your palms into the mat and stepping back with your right foot into a lunge position. Make sure your front knee is stacked on top of the ankle, not the toes. Your back leg is strong into the ball of your foot pressing onto the mat. Square your hips, chest up, spine long and look forward.

Modifications: Bend your back knee or bring your knee down to the matt with the top of your foot flat on the mat (pictured).

(Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

Step 4


Cues: Retain your breath while stepping your left foot back beside your right foot on the mat. Spread your palms and press your fingers into the mat while making your shoulders broad. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over wrists and your gaze is straight down. 

Modifications: If your wrist are sore try using a fist instead of flat hands. Try placing your knees on the mat if you just had a baby or are working on your core. 

Plank Pose

Step 5


Cues: Exhale as you lower from plank, hugging the shoulder blades together. Lower your chin and chest are into the ground first while keeping your butt in the air. Lower the butt while pressing the tops of your feet, thighs into the mat.

Inhale while you lift your chest off the mat, hugging your elbows to your side. Engage your buttocks and quads while keeping your hips pressed against the mat. 

Modifications: Lower your knees to the mat first while transitions from plank to cobra. Don't over extend your backbend in cobra. 


Step 6&7


Cues: Exhale as you push up through your finger tips lifting your hips towards the ceiling. Lengthen the legs and spine. Imagine a string tied around your hips pulling you up towards the ceiling. Keep your head between your arms and look towards your belly button. 

Modifications: Place your hands on two blocks if you have trouble opening your shoulders. Soften your knees if you have tight hamstrings.  

Downward Facing Dog
(Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Step 8


Cues: Inhale as you lift your right leg, swinging it forward and placing your right foot between your palms. Be sure your knee is stacked over your ankle and not your toes. Once in lunge position, bring your left leg to meet your right. Both feet should be parallel with each other in between your palms.  Lift your hips to the ceiling to transition into forward fold. 

Modification: Place your knee on the mat before transitioning into lunge. Take small steps if you have trouble doing this move in one sweep. 

(Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

Step 9


Cues: Exhale as you hang in forward fold hugging your elbows. Keep your hips pulling toward the ceiling to lengthen your hamstrings. Try rocking from side to side to get a deeper stretch.

Forward Fold

Step 10


Cues: Inhale as you extend from the hips keeping your back straight into standing position. Raise your arms with your palms facing each other and arch your back. You may find this to be a deeper back bend than your previous one. Keep your gaze on your thumbs. 

Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana)

Step 11


Cues: Exhale as you bring your palms to heart centre. 

Repeat this sequence on the left side.  

Mountain Pose  (Tadasana)

Step 12

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