Yoga for Beginners: Sun Salutations
Yoga can be super intimidating. Period. It doesn’t matter if you’re familiar with yoga but are out of practice or have never tried it. Yoga for beginners is a new series on the blog and YouTube aimed at helping you feel comfortable with basic yoga poses and terms.
Let’s face it, going to a new yoga class can bring up some uneasy feelings. It’s a lot like being in school. It was scary moving from elementary school to middle or junior high. High school and college was a whole beast in itself. Each situation was hard because things are familiar yet totally different. The same can be true of a yoga class. Studios run a little differently, instructors and expectations are different. So this brings up some uneasy feelings.
On the Alternative Yoga Vibe YouTube Channel, I have started posting beginner yoga videos just to help those of you who are new or getting back into yoga. The videos are also perfect for yogi’s with injuries and want a good flow class but without all the more advanced sequences.
Starting with Sun Salutations, you will hear commonly used terms and see the progression from one pose to another. In flow yoga (vinyasa in this case), the point is to flow with your breath from one movement to another.
Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar are common in most vinyasa or flow classes. The class may not be centered around these but you will likely see at least one in each class. Elements of sun salutations are also used to transition from standing poses as well. Having the basics down , will help you feel confident taking classes that feel unfamiliar.
If you are in an area where you can’t follow along with the video or would prefer pictures with written instructions you will find that below.
Do each pose listed for sun salutation A in the following order. First do these: Mountain pose, standing forward fold, plank (or modified plank), downward facing dog, standing forward fold and mountain pose. Next, insert a cobra or low cobra between plank and downward facing dog pose. Try one to five rounds of these and move on to sun salutation B (pictures and instructions below).
Sun Salutation A
Tadasana (mountain pose): Standing at the top of your mat, bring feet under the hips, either hip distance apart or big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Bring hands to heart center. Tailbone should not be tucked or sticking out. Relax shoulders down away from ears. Stay for a few breaths feeling the connection of your feet with the earth.
Uttanasana (standing forward fold): Reach arms toward the sky on your inhale, exhale folding forward bringing the crown of your head down toward the earth. Put a bend in your knees if your hamstrings or low back feel tight.
Plank Pose (top of a push-up): Plant your hands on either side of the feet and step both feet back. Body should be in a push-up position. If this doesn’t agree with you, knees cam come to the earth as well. Press the mat away with the palms, scooping the hips up to feel the whole core (middle of your torso) engage.
Bhujangasana (cobra pose): On an exhale, bend your elbows while lowering the body to the mat (knees can come to the mat before lowering as well). Place the tops of the feet on the earth. Inhale and press into your palms lifting the chest, shoulders and head. If there’s pinching on the low back, keep the elbows really bent, otherwise straighten the elbows without locking them.
Adho mukha śvānāsana (downward facing dog pose): Exhale lowering the chest and shoulders down. Curl the toes under, press into the toes to engage the legs. Inhale press into the hands and lift the body up to hands and knees or plank pose. On an exhale, press hips up and back. Work the heels down, tailbone up to lengthen through the spine and back of the legs.
Sun Salutation B
Utkatasana (chair pose): Bring big toes closer or to touch, heels will be slightly wider than the toes. Inhale lifting the arms up, as you bend the knees and sit the hips back. Weight is heavy in the heels. Pull the low belly in and soften the shoulder blades onto the back. On an exhale move to standing forward fold.
Uttanasana (standing forward fold): Bow the head down while straightening through the legs. Keep a slight bend in the knees. Lengthen through the back of the legs, while reaching the tailbone up, head down.
Plank Pose: See instructions above.
Bhujangasana (cobra pose): see instructions above or take upward facing dog pose by pressing the tops of the feet into the earth while lifting the thighs up off the mat.
Adho mukha śvānāsana (downward facing dog pose): see instructions above.
Virabhadrasana I (warrior I): Step the right foot forward in between the hands. Turn the left heel down so the foot is at an angle. If you can, line up the front heel with the back heel (imagine a line from the front to the back of the mat connecting the two). Inhale lifting your arms and torso up, reaching the fingers toward the sky. On an exhale, place the hands on either side of the front foot, pop the back heel up and make your way to plank pose.
Disclaimer: The information on this website (Alt Yoga Vibe) is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical treatment or hands on instruction. If you are experiencing any severe pain or symptoms, please consult a healthcare practitioner.