WW Astoria Yoga – June Focus – Sun Salutations / Surya Namaskar


With the return of the sun and to celebrate Summer Solstice, our June focus at the Watershed Wellness yoga studio will be the Sun Salutation.

Surya Namaskar, or the Sun Salute, is a classic yoga sequence that is practiced in many classes. There is some dispute as to when it was developed – some say that it’s as old as 2500 years and others say that was originally developed in the 1930s.

Regardless of when it was developed, the intention remains the same: to honor the life giving nature of the sun. The ancient yogis thought that the sun was a representation of our own inner sun: our heart.

Sun Salutations help to lengthen and strengthen pretty much every part of the body. The only thing missing in a Sun Salute is a twist, and that can easily be added into the sequence. The Sun Salute can serve as a great warmup for more difficult yoga postures, and, if performed quickly, be a cardiovascular charge.

The yoga asanas (postures) are performed with the breath, and are a great way to wake up the entire body, warm up the muscles and joints, and stimulate the circulatory and nervous systems. Sun Salutes, and their many variations, are available to most every yoga student.

There are many different ways to perform a Sun Salutation. In general, most Sun Salutations have the following properties:

  • Linking the breath with movement in the body
  • Warming up the entire body and preparing for other yoga postures
  • Spinal extension, flexion and integrity of the supporting musculature
  • Stretching through the back of the body in forward folds and hamstring openers
  • Opening through the heart in lunges
  • Finding mobility through the shoulders and hips
  • Balancing while moving through transition
  • Finding the connections between the Superficial Front Line, the Superficial Back Line and the Lateral Line and moving fluidly between these connective tissue lines.

If you’ve been going to yoga for any length of time, chances are you’re familiar with some or all of the poses in a Sun Salutation. The poses included are:

  • Upward Salute (Urdva Hastasana)

  • Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
  • Half Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana)
  • Low lunge, knee down (Anjaneyasana)
  • Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • Plank Pose to belly or low plank (Phalakasana to Chataruanga)
  • Cobra or Up Dog (Bhujangasana or Urdva Mukha Svanasana)
  • Downward Facing Dog
  • Low lunge, knee down side 2
  • Forward Fold
  • Half Forward Fold
  • Upward Salute.

On Summer Solstice, it’s traditional to do 108 sun salutations. Why 108? Here’s a great article that explains the significance of the number 108 from many different traditions.

We’ll be working all month with variations of the Sun Salute.

These sequences can be practiced anywhere, and can be a foundational part of your home yoga practice. We’ll work with connecting breath and movement, and strengthening through transition, while adding in lots of fun along the way. In a place that is raining for much of the year, a celebration of the return of the light in June seems fitting, and we hope you’ll join us for this heart warming practice.

Interested in seeing what a Sun Salutation looks like, or including it in your home practice?

Here's a video – if you'd like to share it with others, please feel free to check out our YouTube channel & share from there!

Written by Amanda Barp

Amanda Barp is co-founder of Watershed Wellness, a licensed massage therapist with 10+ years experience, a registered yoga teacher with a passion for learning and teaching about the human body & how to feel at home in it.