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Strike a Yoga Pose: Sun Salutation A

We've finally learned all the poses that make up Sun Salutation A, so we can link them all together.

The Sanskrit word for Sun Salutation is Surya Namaskar. Surya means "Sun," and "Namaskar" is a greeting of honor and respect to the divinity present in each one of us. In case you were curious, the word "Namaste" comes from the word "Namaskar," and is used as a greeting and a way to give praise. When you go to a yoga class, at the end the teacher often says "Namaste," as a way to say "thank you," "be well," and "goodbye."

Doing Sun Salutations is a way of respecting the Sun and the Earth, and all it has offered us. It's also a way to warm up the body and get your muscles ready to do deeper stretching and more difficult yoga postures. You'll work every part of your body doing Sun Salutation A - your arms, shoulders, neck, spine, hamstrings, calves, and feet.

When you take an Ashtanga yoga class, it always begins with the opening chant, and then 5 Sun Salutation As in a row. In other types of yoga, they usually do variations on a sun salutation, so parts of this series may look familiar to you.

Do you want to see what Sun Salutation A looks like? Then

Start at the front of your mat in Mountain pose, bringing your awareness inward, and following your breath. This is the pose you're in when you do the opening chant. It's a prep pose for Sun Salutation A.
Release you arms to the sides of the body. This is a variation of Mountain pose, and the 1st pose in Sun Salutation A.
Inhale as you raise your arms up overhead and gaze at your palms.
Exhale as you dive out and come into a Standing Forward Bend.
Inhale to look up and lengthen your spine.
As you exhale, step or jump back and come into 4 Limbed Staff pose.
Inhale as you scoop your chest forward into Upward Facing Dog pose.
Exhale into Downward Facing Dog. Stay here for 5 complete breaths. Inhale...Exhale...1, Inhale...Exhale...2, etc.
After 5 breaths, on your next inhale, step or hop the feet forward between your hands.
Exhale into Standing Forward Bend.
Inhale and raise your arms up overhead, looking at your hands.
Exhale your arms down. Sun Salutation A begins and ends with this pose. To do another one, inhale your arms up and continue through the entire sequence again. In an Ashtanga yoga class, they do it 5 times, but you can do Sun Salutation A as many times as you like.

Fit's Tips: In the mornings when I have time, I love to do a few Sun Salutation As to help me wake up. Each pose feels better than the next. I'll hold each pose for a few breaths since my muscles feel stiff from not moving them for 8 hours.

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