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Season 1 - Episode 4

Sun Salutation A

10 min - Practice


Sun salutations are said to contain every vital priority that you can access in the entire Ashtanga practice. Dylan guides us thoughtfully through Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A), being mindful of the breath throughout.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Welcome to Surya Namaskara A. Sun Salutations are said to contain every vital priority that you can access in the entire ashtanga practice. So there's probably nothing more important than doing your sun salutations. So let's get started and do them right now. Join me at the top of your mat. Find your feet together in samastitihi, your neutral standing posture. Find that your tailbones in a neutral position. You may feel the belly tuck in a little and you may feel the rise through the chest as the collarbones stay broad. Mindful of your breath and following your breath, exhale completely and we'll begin. Ekam, inhale, allow the chest to rise, the shoulders roll back, the hands meet and you see the thumbs together. Do a exhale, folding forward. You can bend the knees on the first few if you like, letting the hands drop to wherever they naturally touch the mat or the legs. Trini, inhale, let the chest float forward, roll the shoulders back and look forward. And Chhatwari, exhale, putting the hands down on the mat. We'll modify this posture for now. Step back, lower down onto your knees and then lower your entire torso down into the mat so that you can feel the shoulder blades roll back and down, a good spread through the fingers, the feet about a hips distance apart. And with your next inhale, Pancha, we'll also modify here. Put the big toes flat upon the mat and then roll the shoulders back and down, lifting the chest forward up through the shoulders. Your next exhale draws the belly to the spine, come to all four position and then lift your hips towards the back corner of the room. But for now, keep the knees bent. So we'll modify this downward facing dog so that you can find your chest moving towards your thighs and that will help keep your spine in line with your arms, raising the hips to the back corner of the room. And of course, continue breathing throughout this entire practice. At no point hold your breath. Let the head dangle and hang and let the eyes settle onto a Drishti on your toes, your knees, your navel, your nose, letting the eyes rest as you breathe comfortably and smoothly here. Exhaling completely. And then Sapta, inhaling, stepping the feet forward. So now the feet come together at the top of the mat where you started. The head lifts, look forward and Ashtau, exhale, folding forward, dropping the head down. Again, you're welcome to bend the knees if that serves you. Nava, inhale, rising up, seeing the thumbs meet together and lift the hands together and exhale your way all the way back to Samastitihi where you began. Good. Again, Ekam, inhale, the arms come up, see your thumbs meet together. Dwe exhale, folding forward, bending the knees if needed or you can keep the legs straight if you like. Trini, inhale, lift the head looking forward and Chaturwadi, exhale, stepping back, this time just lower onto your knees. Let your chest stay suspended if it's comfortable or lower all the way down if you need to. Punch it, inhale, flattening the feet on the mat, lifting the chest forward through the shoulders, rolled back and down. Keep the elbows in and shoulders down and shot. Exhale, tucking the toes under, lifting to downward facing dog, still smooth, full deep breathing, hearing the sound of breath rolled at the back of the throat. If it feels too long for you, keep your hands where they are. Maybe you need to walk in your feet just a touch and if it's very very comfortable for you to keep the spine in line with the arms, you can gently start to straighten the knees, bringing the legs straight. Exhale completely and then it's up to inhale, stepping or jumping the feet forward together. The head is lifted, the spine is long and exhale, fold forward, drop the head down. Nava, inhaling, rising up the body completely, seeing the hands meet together and lift. Exhale your way to Samastitihi. So you can keep modifying those sun salutations. Those options are always available to you or we'll look at what it might be like to have a more complete and refined sun salutation. If it's available with comfort, exhale completely and I can inhale hands together and lift.

Dwe exhale, following the breath, forward, dropping the head, grounding the palms if you can. Trini, inhale, the fingers spread, the head lifts, look forward. Chaturwadi, exhale, step or jump the feet back, lowering down to a full chaturanga or all the way down on the mat if you like. Collar bones are broad. Punch, inhale, the chest forward, through the shoulders, roll back and down, upward dog. Shot, exhale, lifting the hips to the back corner of the room and taking long full deep breaths here. One, following the pace of your own natural full deep breath. Two, letting the eyes stabilize at any single point. Three, and finding the ability to exhale more breath out, finding the Bandhas complete. Four, five, step to inhale, step or jump the feet forward as the head lifts, look forward and then Ashta. Exhale, folding forward, grounding the palms if it's available.

Nava, inhale, rising up, seeing the thumbs meet together, shoulders down the back. Exhale, right back to Samastitihi, your neutral position. Ehekam, inhale, the next sun salutation begins. Dwe exhale, fold forward, drop the head. Trini, inhale, head up, look forward. Chatwari, exhale, stepping or jumping back, lowering down, Chaturanga. Punch, inhale, the shoulders are rolled back and down. Shot, exhale, lifting the hips back corner of the room and downward facing dog. Here in down dog, of course, you're welcome to have knees bent.

You're welcome to step in a touch if it feels comfortable to you. And you're always making sure that breath flows smoothly through the entire practice, through the entire process. Hearing the sound of your own deep, full breathing. Exhale once more, fully and completely pushing all the breath out. And Sapta, begin the inhale during the inhalation, step or hop the feet forward together, head up. Ashta, exhale, fold forward, drop the head down. Another inhale, rising up, seeing the hands meet together as you lift and look up towards the thumbs.

Exhale, samastitihi. We'll do one more, just count it in Sanskrit. Ehekam, inhale, arms up. Dwe exhale, fold forward. Trini, inhale, head up. Chhatwari, exhale. Chaturanga, any modification. Pancha, inhale, upward facing dog. Shot, exhale, downward facing dog. And let's breathe together.

One, two, three, four, five. Sapta, inhale, step or jump the feet forward together, head up. Ashta, exhale, fold forward. Nava, inhale, rise up, see your thumbs lifting. Exhale, samastitihi. So we've done five sun salutation A together and now you should feel empowered to practice sun salutation on your own. And keep coming back and doing this practice with me because the details of sun salutations will illuminate the entire ashtanga practice for you. I hope to see you in sun salutation B as well. And please be in touch. I'd love to hear from you.


Kate M
1 person likes this.
It's all here! Very reassuring too, for beginners for whom the Ashtanga practice can be entirely intimidating.
Dylan Bernstein
Hey Kate , Great that you are in for the new season! Please share with those intimidated beginners! We want them welcomed into the practice. D
Kristin F
2 people like this.
I'm a beginner to this practice, and feel welcomed :) Thank you! It's exactly what I was looking for.
Dylan Bernstein
Hi Kristin ... that's great to hear. We certain want you feeling welcomed! Be in touch with any questions whatsoever. And keep enjoying your practice! D
Stacie C
1 person likes this.
This was exactly what I was needing! Now I feel like my Ashtanga journey can begin! Thank you!
1 person likes this.
a lovely way to spend 10 minutes! thanks.
yutao (Ginger)
love the guidence and the energy , bring my self awareness out immidiately
Dylan Bernstein
Boom, so great to hear that the awareness can so quicly flow. There are moments when I think I'm about to lose it.. and then like stepping under a waterfall, i'm engulfed in awareness. Let's keep finding ways to access that together. D
Marilo N
2 people like this.
Thank you Dylan. I have been practicing ashtanga on and off for a few years but always alone (from a book and from cd's) and I never have taken the time to really begin at the beginning and take the time with each posture. This sun salutation video was amazing. I really understood the importance of the breath in a way that I have not before. I am very excited to be a beginner again and to start my ashtanga journey from the right place- taking my time and taking pause in the postures that I really need to hone in order to make my practice richer and deeper.
Dylan Bernstein
Yay, Marilo ! It is wonderful to hear that you are open to becoming a beginner. It might be the most difficult state to maintain! And it's the one we all enter with. I try to keep the beginners' mind throughout practice and I think waiting for the breath is a great tool.
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