Sun Salutations: How to Do Yoga's Most Famous Sequence

Introducing Sun Salutations – The Perfect Yoga Workout

If you are pressed for time and looking for a single at-home exercise to maintain fitness,  add Sun Salutations to your routine.

Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) are a sequence of 12 powerful yoga poses with profound benefits that have been written about for thousands of years.

  • Sun Salutations provide a good cardiovascular workout, stretch every part of the body, and when used with breath coordinate the body with the mind.
  • Even more impressively, this sequence takes the spine through almost every possible range of motion.
  • These postures can be used as a warm-up routine or as an exercise in themselves.
  • The poses can be practiced slowly for deeper stretching and strength building or quickly for more of a cardiovascular workout.

Besides good health, Sun Salutations provide an opportunity to express gratitude for the sun that sustains life on the Earth. For the next 10 days, start your day with a feeling of grace and gratitude towards the sun energy by doing 12 rounds of Sun Salutation, followed by a yoga practice.

The Sun Salutation Sequence

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Depending on your preferred style of yoga, you may be familiar with one of the many versions of sun salutes. Vinyasa-style salutes, for example, incorporate chaturangas (low plank), and focus more on upper-body strength. The below postures are the most traditional version of the Sun Salute and actively engage all parts of the body.

Each Sun Salutation round consists of two sets, and the 12 yoga poses complete one set of Surya Namaskar. In order to complete the second half of one round, repeat the same sequence of postures, only moving the left leg instead of the right (steps 4 and 9). Sun Salutations, as the name suggests, are best done early morning on an empty stomach.


Pranamasana (Prayer pose)

Stand at the edge of your mat, keep your feet together and balance your weight equally on both the feet.

Expand your chest and relax your shoulders.

As you breathe in, lift both arms up from the sides and as you exhale, bring your palms together in front of the chest in prayer position.


Hastauttanasana (Raised Arms pose)

Breathing in, lift the arms up and back, keeping the biceps close to the ears. In this pose, the effort is to stretch the whole body up from the heels to the tips of the fingers

To deepen the stretch, push the pelvis forward a little bit. Ensure that you are reaching up with the fingers rather than trying to bend backwards.


Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot pose)


Breathing out, bend forward from the waist, keeping the spine erect.

As you exhale completely, bring the hands down to the floor beside the feet.

You may bend the knees, if necessary, to bring the palms down to the floor.

To deepen the stretch, straighten the knees.


Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)

Breathing in, push your right leg back as far as possible.

Bring the right knee to the floor and look up.

The left foot is in between the palms.


(Stick pose)


As you breathe in, take the left leg back and bring the whole body in a straight line.

Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.

Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.


Ashtanga Namaskara
(Eight Points Salute)

Gently bring your knees down to the floor and exhale. Take the hips back slightly, slide forward,

And rest your chest and chin on the floor. Raise your posterior slightly.

The two hands, two feet, two knees, and chest and chin should touch the floor.


Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)

Slide forward and raise the chest up into the Cobra posture.

You may keep your elbows bent in this pose with the shoulders away from the ears. Look up.

As you inhale, make a gentle effort to push the chest forward. As you exhale, make a gentle effort to push the navel down. Tuck the toes under.


Parvatasana (Mountain pose)

Breathing out, lift the hips and the tail bone up, chest downwards in an 'inverted V' (/\) posture.

How to deepen this yoga stretch?

If possible, try and keep the heels on the ground and make a gentle effort to lift the tailbone up, going deeper into the stretch.


Ashwa Sanchalanasana (Equestrian pose)

Breathing in, bring the right foot forward in between the two hands, left knee down to the floor, press the hips down and look up.

How to deepen this yoga stretch?

Place the right foot exactly between the two hands and the right calf perpendicular to the floor. In this position, make a gentle effort to push the hips down towards the floor, to deepen the stretch.


Hasta Padasana (Hand to Foot pose)

Breathing out, bring the left foot forward. Keep the palms on the floor. You may bend the knees, if necessary.

How to deepen this yoga stretch?

Gently straighten the knees and if you can, try and touch your nose to the knees. Keep breathing.


Hastauttanasana (Raised Arms pose)

Breathing in, roll the spine up, hands go up and bend backwards a little bit, pushing the hips slightly outward.

How to deepen this yoga stretch?

Ensure that your biceps are beside your ears. The idea is to stretch up more rather than stretching backwards.



As you exhale, first straighten the body, then bring the arms down. Relax in this position, observe the sensations in your body.

You might also like to read on Sun Salutation Mantras and 11 Tips for better sun salutation for you to make your Sun Salutation practice more effective.


Learn Sun Salutation From An Expert 

Our full yoga workshop, Sri Sri Yoga, teaches this and other sequences, along with a holistic approach to yoga.

Or, keep learning online in this FREE Yoga for Beginners E-Course with Sun Salutes and more.

Send your questions and queries to We look forward to helping you with your yoga practice.

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