Sun Salutation A for Beginners: A step-by-step guide to a foundational sequence

A sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) is a foundational sequence of yoga poses used in most vinyasa yoga classes. If you are looking to join a group class but are nervous about what to expect, knowing the steps of a Surya Namaskar can help. Other schools of yoga also use this sequence, and instructors will often use this set of poses as a foundation upon which they create their lessons. In a classic vinyasa flow, you move to the next pose on each inhale or exhale. While some teachers use a sun salutation as a warm-up, I prefer to begin with a slower round to prepare for the poses.

Today we are practicing sun salutation A (see Round 2 below). Other popular sun salutations include a classic sun salutation and a sun salutation B.

Warm-up round:

We will move through all the planes of sun salutation A, but we will do so slowly and with some extra movements, such as cat and cow. Take your time, and feel free to add more warm-ups before moving on.

Round 1:

Focus on the alignment of each pose, and find a version of each pose that works for you. You may prefer Sphinx pose (Bhujangasana) to Cobra pose, for example.

Round 2:

Focus on your breath and move on your inhale or exhale to the next posture. Repeat as many times as you’d like, but don’t let your form suffer just to do more sun salutations.

Here are all of the poses in order:

  • Tadasana – Mountain pose
  • Utthita hastasana – Extended mountain pose
  • Uttanasana – Standing forward bend
  • Ardha uttanasana – Halfway lift
  • Phalakasana – Plank
  • Chaturanga dandasana – Four-limbed staff pose. Bringing your knees down first is always an option!
  • Urdhva mukha svanasana – Upward-facing dog. This is a big pose! You can keep your knees on the ground, or simply switch to Sphinx or Cobra. I did not demonstrate Upward dog in this video.
  • Adho mukha svanasana – Downward-facing dog. Focus on lengthening from your wrists to your hips. A separate tutorial is coming soon on this one 🙂
  • Uttanasana – Standing forward bend
  • Utthita hastasana – Extended mountain pose
  • Tadasana – Mountain pose

Did you notice something about these poses? They’re all in the sagittal plane, meaning we only move our bodies forward and backward. Other planes of movement, like rotation or side (lateral) movement, are fundamental to our overall mobility. As transformational as sun salutations can feel, remember to add other poses to your yoga practice. You can find examples in my other videos.

By mastering the sun salutation A sequence, you’ll gain a solid foundation in vinyasa yoga and build the strength and endurance needed for more advanced poses. Listen to your body and modify the sequence to avoid injury or discomfort. As you become more familiar with the series, you can flow more quickly and smoothly, connecting your movements with your breath. Personally, I like to keep it slow and steady!

Stay mindful,


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