Sun salutations (Surya Namaskar) are a sequence of postures linked together with the breath.
They are usually done in the morning before Asana practice.
Regular practice of Surya Namaskar is an important part of Sati Yoga. It will make the body and the mind strong and flexible. It will also make the breath longer and smoother, and synchronise it with the movement.
Start standing upright with the feet together and the hand in a prayer position in front of your chest.
Before you start, bring your attention to your breathing and stay still for a few breaths.
The breath is the most important part of the practice, and throughout the practice of Sun Salutations, you should keep your attention on your breathing. As much as possible, keep the breath long, smooth and relaxed.
When you are ready, inhale and lift the arms up over head, stretching the whole body upwards and looking up. This is called Urdhva Asana, the upward facing pose.
Then exhale and, keeping the legs straight and strong, bend forward from the hips and bring the hands towards the floor on either side of the feet. Look towards your knees. This is Utanasana, the standing forward bend.
Then inhale press the hands down into the floor and bring the right foot as far back as possible, stretch the toes back and bring the knees to the floor. Still inhaling, lift the hands off the floor and stretch them upwards, while moving the hips forward and down. This is Eka Pada Asana, the equestrian pose.
Then exhale and bring the left foot beside the right foot, keeping the body straight with the hands underneath the shoulders. Do not hold this pose, but continue on, still exhaling, bend the knees and bring them to the floor. Bend the elbows and bring the shoulders and the forehead to the floor. This is Ashtanga Namaskara, the eight folds saluting pose.
Then inhale and roll forward over the toes, at the same time straightening the arms as much as your lower back allows. Relax your lower back and move the chest forward. This is Bujanganasa, the cobra pose.
Then exhale and lift the hips up, rolling back over the toes and bringing the shoulder back towards the feet and the heels towards the floor. This is Adho Mukha Svanasana, downward facing dog pose. Stay in this posture for 5 breaths or more.
Then inhale and bring the right foot forward between the feet, then lift the hands off the floor, stretching them upwards while moving the hips forward and down. You are back in Eka Pada Asana, the equestrian pose, but this time with the right foot forward.
Then exhale and bring the left foot forward beside the right foot, straighten the legs and look towards your knees. Your are back in Utanasana, the standing forward bend.
Then inhale, unfold the body and lift the arms up over head, stretching the whole body upwards, looking up. You are back in Urdhva Asana, the upward facing pose.
Finally exhale and bring the arms down back to Samastiti, the starting position.
Repeat on the other side (i.e. starting with the left leg). Do at least two rounds (one on each side), and gradually build up to twelve.
You can do the Sun salutations as slowly or as fast as you want, as long as the breath remains smooth and relaxed.
You can stay in any of the postures for as long as you need to “catch your breath”, and this will probably be necessary in the beginning, when you find the practice strenuous.
Pay great attention to the synchronisation of the breath and the movements. Each movement should start and end in perfect synch with the corresponding breath. This takes practice and attention.
“Perfection” in the postures comes with regular practice, as flexibility and body awareness increases. Be patient with yourself.
Do at least two sun salutations every day (one on each side), and gradually build up to twelve.