Updated 21 June 2013

The Sun Salutation

Yoga exercises can bring great flexibility to the spine and joints and even help to bring balance to the body regarding some illnesses. We show you how to do the Sun Salutation.


The Sun Salutation can bring great flexibility to the spine and joints and even help to bring balance to body regarding some illnesses.

Also called the Surya Namaskar, it is a traditional yoga warm-up which, if practised daily, will improve your stamina as well as suppleness and will tone every muscle in your body (even trim your waist!). The graceful sequence of twelve positions is performed as one continuous flowing exercise and has a wonderful rejuvenating effect on your body and mind.

Also called Salute to the Sun, each position stretches the body in a different way, bringing a different vertebral movement to the spine and alternately expands and contracts the chest. Every movement is tuned to the breath, instilling feelings of balance and harmony.

One round of Sun Salutations consists of two sequences, the first leading with the right foot and the second leading with the left. Try to start with four rounds and gradually build up to twelve.

Balances the body if you suffer from these problems
Balances endocrine, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive systems, pineal gland and hypothalamus. Balances the transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Leads to mental clarity and increased awareness. Bestows good health and a sense of well-being. Works very well if you're cold, cramped and crotchety!

Watch out:

  • If you suffer from lower back pain, TIGHTEN your bum when you do the backbends (when you arch back while standing, and while lying when you do the Cobra).
  • If you have tight hamstrings (which is usually the case in the beginning), slightly BEND your knees in the forward bends. Have faith, you will notice a change within three months if you do these warm-up exercises once or twice a week; a lot sooner if you do it every day!
  • If you are PREGNANT, do NOT perform the Cobra (step 7). Rather find a qualified yoga teacher to teach you the special asanas for pregnancy, which will strengthen your legs and help to prevent a sagging tummy (and stretchmarks!) as well as prepare your body for birth.
  • AVOID the Sun Salutation if you have venous blood clots, varicose veins, high blood pressure or a hernia.
  The 12 steps of the Sun Salute

1. Prayer pose. Stand tall with feet together, weight evenly distributed and palms in the prayer position in front of heart. EXHALE.

2. INHALE. Stretch arms up, arch back from waist, push hips forward, legs straight, relax neck.

3. EXHALE. Hinge from hips and bend forwards. Press palms down on the floor next to feet, fingertips in line with toes. (Bend knees if necessary.) NB: hands must stay in the same position throughout the sequence.

4. INHALE. Bring right (or left) leg as far back as possible, placing knee on the floor. Arch back and look up, lifting chin.

5. RETAIN BREATH. Bring the other leg back to support weight on hands and toes. Keep body in a straight line, look at floor between hands. Don't drop hips or head.

6. EXHALE. Lower knees, then chest and then forehead. Keep hips up and toes tucked in.

7. INHALE. Slide body forwards, lower hips, point toes, keep legs together and arch back and tilt head back. Slightly bend elbows into body.

8. EXHALE. Curl toes under, raise hips and push into the inverted V. Stretch your tailbone into the air, push down into heels (make sure knees are straight), push head down, chest towards ankles and keep shoulders back.

9. INHALE. Bring right (or left) leg forward and place foot between hands. Rest the other knee on the floor and look up as in step 4.

10. EXHALE. Bring the other leg forward, step together and bend down from the waist, keeping palms as in step 3.

11. INHALE. Stretch arms forward, then up and back over head and bend back slowly from the waist as in step 2.

12. EXHALE. Gently straighten up and bring arms down by sides. Take a deep breath and prepare to begin the second sequence, leading with the left leg.

Rest afterwards in the Child's Pose.




Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.