Ashtanga Surya Namaskara A

Ashtanga Surya Namaskara A is the first step in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practice. Ashtanga yoga refers to the eight limbs of yoga laid out by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. Ashtanga Yoga or Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga or Dynamic Yoga or Power Yoga is a type of aerobic yoga which is physically more demanding. This form of yoga was interpreted and developed by Pattabhi Jois along with Krishnamacharya in Mysore, India. His version adopts a dynamic and vigorous approach to the Yoga Asana (poses) and Pranayama (breath exercise and control). In Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, every poses or asana is linked with a specific breathing pattern (Ujjayi Pranayama) and movement (Vinyasa).

The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga requires 90 minutes to two or three hours to complete one full cycle. The series has 75 different poses varying from very simple one to very difficult postures. The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga begins with the Sun Salutation - Ashtanga Surya Namaskara A and Ashtanga Surya Namaskara B, and then, moving to various standing and seated postures, inversion sequences and backbends.

In Ashtanga Surya Namaskara A, the first four steps are repeated twice to complete one full cycle. The steps in Ashtanga Surya Namaskara A are as follows:

  1. Samasthiti (Tadasana) - The first step is the Mountain Pose where you stand straight with the toes touching each other.
  2. Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana) - In the second step, you inhale and raise the hands above your head keeping the palms pressed together.
  3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana A) - In this step, you slowly exhale and bend forward and press your palms flat on the ground in line with the toes.
  4. Flat Back (Uttanasana B) - In this step, you inhale and come up to support on your fingers with your back flat.
  5. Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) - This step is a part of Surya Namaskara. It is similar to a push-up pose where balance your body on your palms.
  6. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) - This is also a part of Sun Salutation. It is a backbend pose and you roll forward with full support on your toes and palms and with head tilted backwards. This step is done by inhaling the air.
  7. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) - In this step, you exhale and with your heels on the floor, you drop down toward the front with your palms touching the floor and your hip arched to form a triangle shape.
  8. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) - From the downward facing dog pose, you exhale slowly and come back to the standing forward bend pose.
  9. Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana) - From Uttanasana, back to the raised arms pose by inhaling.
  10. Samasthiti (Tadasana) - The final step is back to the original position from where it started, i.e. back to Samasthiti with the hands on your side and exhaling.

Thus Ashtanga Surya Namaskara A is an intermediate workout that can bring changes to your life, provided you survive the demanding ashtanga yoga poses and workouts both physically and mentally. It is advisable to learn these yoga poses under a trained yoga teacher or else chances of getting injured are high. It takes time for the body to be flexible and powerful. If correct moves are done in the correct order, then both the body and mind will be automatically ready for any changes.