There aren't many yoga Sun Salutation steps. Generally, the sequence includes nine asanas. It's how you do the sequence that matters. Each posture is performed deliberately, and the entire sequence is repeated at least five times. This builds endurance, increases energy and helps you greet the day with vigor. While the postures awaken the body, the spirit should stir with the Sun Salutation sequence as well.
Start in Mountain Pose, hands at the heart. This helps you balance both body and mind..
Raise the arms on a large inhale, filling the entire body with breath.
Exhale as you extend into Forward Bend from the waist and hips. If you're flexible, fold the chest against the knees. If you need to modify, fold with the arm dangling, as shown here. Breathe. Then, on an inhale, rise halfway, flatten your back, and place your hands on your ankles or shins. Look up slightly.
Draw both legs back into Plank Pose. Make sure the hands are under the shoulders and the back is straight.
Single Leg Stretch
Some practice yoga Sun Salutation steps with a Single Leg Stretch instead of a Plank Pose. This is a particularly helpful modification. However, make sure you repeat the sequence for the opposite leg. Draw the knee up as is comfortable and keep your weight positioned evenly on both feet. The knee is parallel to the ankle and not over the toes.
Chaturanga or Crocodile Pose
This Sun Salutation step also has a variation, depending on the practitioner. Some people choose Chaturanga, shown here. From Plank or Single Leg Stretch, use the arms to position the body - the weight will fall into the hands and feet, the core remains strong. Many people make the pose more challenging by dipping the chest down and the buttocks up, almost like a Crocodile. You're about an inch off the floor at this point.
Cobra Pose or Upward Dog
This step in the sequence can either be Upward Facing Dog Pose, shown here, or Cobra Pose, whichever is most comfortable for you. It's important to breathe deep while in Chaturanga and come up on an exhale into your posture of choice.
Downward Facing Dog
This is one pose you're probably familiar with. Make sure to push the hips into the air as your head drops between your biceps.
The Warrior version shown here is Warrior I, but you can slip into any Warrior posture you like best.
Now, repeat all the yoga Sun Salutation steps a few more times. Modify where you need to, but try to keep your movements fluid between each posture, letting the breath guide you.
Find more articles and slideshows about yoga postures in our Yoga Pose Gallery.