Surya Namaskar is a great strength building sequence when done correctly in a quick vinyasa. It moves the spine back and forth repeatedly and tightens the vertebrae. But it can be stressful on the spine at times, especially for beginners who aren't used to a lot of spinal movement.
If your body isn't up for a traditional type of sun salutation, you can rearrange the order of the poses or break the order into an easy part.
In addition, depending on a student's needs and particular condition, relaxing poses and some twisting movements can be added to the traditional sun salutation sequence. It makes different variations of Surya Namaskar.
Some of the Surya Namaskar variations are:
- Half Sun Salutation (Ardha Surya Namaskar)
- Sitting Sun Salutation (Upavistha Surya Namaskar)
- Sun Salutation Chair (seated)
- Standing sun salutation in front of the chair
- Sun salutation Quick Flow
- Kneeling sun salutation
- Egyptian sun salutation
Try these variations of the sun salutations below and choose the one that you're most comfortable in.
1. Half Sun Salutation (Ardha Surya Namaskar)
As the name suggests, the half-sun greeting is a partially complete Surya Namaskar sequence. Here certain poses (asanas) are performed at a point in front of the mat before you step back into a pose.
Has half sun salutation 7 poses by stretching up and forward without moving from a standing position. It is best for warming up the body in a yoga session at home.
Half sun salutation from Zoë Sipes
- Stand in it Tadasana (mountain pose) Hold the palm together in front of your chest.
- Inhale and raise your arms above your head and look inside at your thumbs Urdhva hastasana (pose with arms raised).
- Exhale to fold forward uttanasana (forward bend) Press your hands on the floor and align your fingertips on your toes.
- Inhale and lift halfway up, keeping your arms, legs, and back straight Ardha uttanasana (half forward bend).
- Exhale to bend forward again, bring your head to your knees, and press your palms against the floor Uttanasana (forward bend).
- Inhale, lift your upper body and stretch your arms up Urdhva hastasana (pose with arms raised).
- Exhale, lower your arms and bandage your palms in front of your chest in a prayer position Tadasana (mountain pose)
2. Sitting Sun Salutation (Upavistha Surya Namaskar)
In contrast to the traditional Surya Namaskar, this entire sequence is performed while sitting on the floor (also known as floor sun salutation). It includes stretching, forward folding, and heart opener poses.
Greeting the sitting sun is the best option for people who do not have access to the person standing. It's also best for beginners who have difficulty reaching the ground on the forward turns. It is much easier than any other variant available to the aspirant.
- Sit in a crossed leg position like Padmasana or Sukhasana.
- Inhale, raise your arms above your head and add the palm of your hand seated greeting upwards. Bring your gaze to the palms of your hands.
- Exhale, lower your right arm to one side and slide it away as you tilt the trunk to the right. At the same time, the left arm reaches up and over the head sit on the top right greeting right.
- Inhale and bring both arms in the middle above your head.
- Exhale to lower your left arm, then reach up with your right arm as you lower your elbow sitting up greet left side.
- Inhale and reconnect your palms over your head.
- Exhale to fold forward, keep your arms outstretched, and your head as if on the floor Child pose.
- Inhale and pull your arms back halfway and lift your chin slightly Back bend.
- As you exhale, move your spine backwards at the level of your heart.
- Inhale and move your hands behind you, pointing your fingers forward.
- Now raise your heart to the sky as you lean in your arms.
- Exhale to return to the starting position and repeat a second round, changing the crossing of the legs.
3. Chair sun salutation
Here the chair is used as a support when performing the sun salutation. Older people, beginners with agility or mobility problems will find it very useful.
The sun salutation variant of the chair is suitable for every age group or body type. It is also an alternative to the seated sun salutation for people who have trouble sitting cross-legged. Although it offers massage and stretching effects similar to the traditional one.
Chair Sun Salutation from Yoga Shakti
- Sit in a chair, put your feet on the floor and bandage your palms in front of your chest.
- Exhale to connect your hands in front of your chest in the prayer position.
- Inhale and bring your hands to your thighs, elongating your neck and spine. Raise your arms above your head and look up gently.
- Exhale and lower your hands on your thighs. Bend forward at your hips and keep your neck and spine upright. Now slide your hands to your feet and keep your neck relaxed.
- Inhale and lift yourself up, grabbing your left thigh with both hands and pulling it towards your stomach. Hold your gaze.
- Exhale and release your leg and place your hands on your thighs. Lower your head and round your back to get into a seated cat pose.
- Inhale, move your chest forward, and look up when assuming a seated cow pose.
- Roll your back back up to get into the sitting cat position as you exhale.
- Inhale to come back to center, keeping your left thigh toward your stomach as in step 5.
- Exhale and let your leg fall back to the floor. Hinge forward at your hips and reach your feet with your hands.
- Inhale, lift your upper body and stretch your arms above your head and look.
- Exhale to go back to Pose 1, which connects the palms of the hands in front of the chest.
4. Sun salutation standing chair
This variant is similar to the traditional Hatha Surya Namaskar, which uses a chair as a prop. Here the hands are placed on the backrest or seat of the chair to perform all the stretches.
In the sun salutation of the standing chair, the uttanasana is replaced by ardha uttansana, and all poses that are performed down to the floor are modified down to the chair. This is a great way to build extension of the back muscles for forward flexion. Therefore, it is recommended for beginners.
In this sequence, the practitioner's strength and balance improve and the body is well prepared to perform traditional Surya Namaskar.
Sun Salutation Standing Chair from Awase Publishing
- Stand behind a chair with your chest in a prayer position.
- Inhale and raise your arms over you and look up gently.
- Exhale by lowering your hands on the back of the chair and folding halfway forward on your hips.
- Inhale and kick your left foot back as far as you can while holding the chair.
- Exhale, bend your right knee and lock it in.
- Inhale and pull your right foot back to place it next to your left.
- Exhale and bend forward slightly, lifting your heels off the floor as you inhale.
- Push your arms forward on the chair and lift your body by your toes.
- Exhale, lower your heels to the floor, and bend your torso back halfway on your hips, keeping your hands on the back of the chair.
- Inhale by pulling your left foot forward and, as you exhale, bend your left knee and extend your right leg straight back.
- Inhale and bring your right leg forward next to your left.
- Exhale and pivot forward at your hips by pressing your palms on the chair.
- Inhale and raise your torso and arms above your head, stretching your neck to look up.
- Exhale, lower your arms, and bandage your palms in front of your chest.
5. Quick Flow Sun Salutation
It is a body-warming variant of Surya Namaskar that includes five poses, namely Uttanasana, Chaturanga Dandasana, Bhujangasana, Down-Dog and Return to Uttansana.
This cyclical variation is performed using core strength and the sequence consists of just five asanas that are practiced without spending a lot of time, hence the name.
- Stand in Tadasana and fold your suitcase forward Uttanasana.
- Exhaling, straighten your legs back and bend your elbows to bring your chest closer to the floor, assuming Chaturanga Dandasana.
- Then lower your knees, pelvis and stomach to the floor.
- As you inhale, lift your chest and arch your back slightly to get inside Bhujangasana.
- As you inhale and exhale, curl your toes to lift your hips off the floor and lower your head to the floor. This is Down dog pose.
- Inhale and move your palms backwards to get back into Uttanasana.
6. Kneeling sun salutation sequence
Kneeling sun salutation is practiced by kneeling on the floor and balancing the body on all fours. These are child pose, table pose, stretch cat pose, cobra pose and down dog pose.
All of these poses involve stretching, forward bending, back bending, inversion, and require strength. However, these are the easy poses that make it an exercise for beginners.
Kneeling Sun Salutation by Sam Gent Yoga
- Begin sitting in a child's pose and take a deep breath in your side ribs.
- Inhale to lift your hips and get into a table position on all fours.
- Exhale, roll your back up, and lower your head to get yourself into the cat stretch.
- Lower your chest and chin to the floor and straighten your legs backwards.
- Inhale and lift your chest and neck to rise into the cobra pose.
- Tuck your toes in, exhale to lift your hips, and then press your palms to the floor. Take a deep breath.
- Exhale and lower your knees to the floor to get on all fours.
- Inhale and exhale, and roll back to find yourself back in a cat stretch.
- Exhale and put your hips on your heels, straighten your arms and rest your forehead on the floor to maintain the child's posture.
7. Egyptian sun salutation sequence
The Egyptian sun salutation is a standing sequence that is practiced as a heart opener. It expands the chest and rib cage and increases energy levels.
At a fast pace, this gentle flow of poses is similar to the dance sequence. It is also an ancient variant practiced in honor of the sun. There are 20 poses performed to tone the feet on the floor as variations of Tadasana.
- Begin by standing Tadasana, joining the palms of your hands in a prayer position.
- Inhale, raise your arms, palms together overhead, and stretch your neck to look up.
- Exhale, bend forward and keep your knees soft, bend your knees and elbows.
- Inhale and raise your torso and arms above your head with bandaged palms.
- Exhale by bending sideways to the left at the waist and keeping the arm position above the head intact.
- Inhale to come back to center, then exhale, stretching sideways to the right.
- As you exhale, return to the center and inhale. Extend your arms and upper body upwards and look at the joined hands above you.
- Exhale, lower your arms, and fold your hips forward with your knees and elbows bent.
- Inhale deeply to extend your arms forward at shoulder level, palms joined, and exhale.
- As you breathe in, turn your upper body to the left together with your straight arms and at the same time slide your right hand toward your left shoulder while keeping your left arm straight forward.
- Exhale to come back to center, and continue to inhale to twist your torso to the right and slide your left hand toward your right shoulder.
- On the exhale, come back to the center and reach forward with your joined hands.
- Inhale, spread your arms to the side, open your chest forward and look up.
- Exhale to bring your arms forward and connect your palms.
- Inhale, pull your arms over you and look at the bandaged palms.
- Exhale and bend forward at the hips, keeping your knees soft, and lowering your head and arms.
- Inhale, lift your upper body, bandage your palms back over you, and look up.
- Exhale and lower your bandaged palms in front of your chest to take the first posture.
All types and variations of Surya Namaskar involve intense stretching exercises that help improve overall health. It not only strengthens the body and calms the mind, but also prepares the body for further yoga exercises.
The numerous health benefits that Surya Namaskar offers with all of these types and variations make it an evergreen yoga practice.
With so many options, you can either try one out at your leisure or learn to practice as much as you can and experience all possible benefits.