Surya Namaskar varieties (Hatha, Sivananda, Ashtanga): poses and advantages


Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is the most commonly practiced sequence of 12 poses in yoga. While the original sequence includes a predictable sequence of poses, there are huge differences in how it is performed from one tradition to the next. For example, in some styles of yoga, the 7th pose of the sun salutation sequence is used; H. The cobra pose (Bhujangasana), replaced by the upward facing dog (Urdhava shvanasana).

No matter how it is practiced, sun salutation benefits the body and mind in all types. It increases the internal warmth in the body, warms the muscles, improves blood circulation and calms the mind.

There is 4 types of surya namaskar practiced in popular styles of yoga;

  1. Hatha Surya Namaskar
  2. Sivananda sun salutation
  3. Ashtanga Surya Namaskar
    • Surya Namaskar A.
    • Surya Namaskar B.
  4. Iyengar Surya Namaskar

1. Hatha Surya Namaskar

In Hatha Yoga, Ha & tha is called to the sun & the moon. To pray for the sun, 24 poses are performed in a series of exercises in Hatha Surya Namaskar. A set consists of 12 poses in the first round and 12 repeated poses (excluding leg changes in steps 4 and 9) in the second round.

Surya Namaskar, described in Hatha Yoga, is the traditional and oldest form. It is done slowly with long stays in each pose. Hence, this is an easy approach for a student who finds Sun Salutations uncomfortable as a fast-flowing series.

12 poses are from Hatha Surya Namaskar;

  1. Prayer posture
  2. Raised arms pose
  3. Bend forward
  4. Equestrian posture
  5. Employees pose
  6. Eight limbs pose
  7. Cobra pose
  8. Mountain pose (Parvatasana)
  9. Equestrian posture
  10. Bend forward
  11. Raised arms pose
  12. Prayer posture

All of these poses improve the strength and flexibility of the body. It also balances basic parts of the body; H. Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and balances all five elements of the body. It is for this reason that it is beneficial and beneficial to cure multiple diseases and tone the body both internally and externally.

2. Sivananda sun salutation

Sivananda sun salutationImage source:

The Sivananda style sun salutation is similar to the traditional hatha style sun salutation. Here twelve basic positions are performed as a continuous exercise in which a series of prostrations are performed in front of the sun.

Compared to other types of sun salutation, the flow rate is kept medium here from one pose to the other. This makes the Sivananda sun salutation suitable for beginners. The purpose is to warm up the body in preparation for a longer asana practice.

Sivananda style sun salutations are known as a basic sun salutation sequence. It is taught by Swami Vishnudevananda, a disciple of Sivananda Saraswati. Today the sun salutation is followed by pranayama or breathing exercises in a Sivananda yoga class. Then after the sun salutation comes a series of 12 basic asanas of Hatha Yoga.

3. Ashtanga Surya Namaskar

Ashtanga Surya Namaskar differs from the traditional Surya Namaskar in terms of order, poses and pace. It is comparatively fast and places more emphasis on synchronizing breathing with physical movement from one pose to the next. called Vinyasa.

This sequence of sun salutations is often practiced in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Here the sun salutation is not practiced in a sequence, but rather broken into two parts specifically known as;

  • Surya Namaskar A.
  • Surya Namaskar B.

Surya Namaskar A.

surya namaskar A.

It is the first sequence of Ashtanga Surya Namaskar with 10 poses. Before starting any Ashtanga Vinyasa series, 5 rounds of this sequence are considered sufficient to induce warmth and endurance in the body. Traditionally, in Ashtanga Yoga, 5 rounds of an A sequence follow, followed by 5 rounds B.

10 poses by Surya Namaskar are a sequence;

  1. Samasthiti (Tadasana)
  2. Urdhva Hastasana (raised hands pose)
  3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  4. Half standing forward bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
  5. Four-bar posture (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  6. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  7. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  8. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  9. Raised Hands Posing (Urdhva Hastasana)
  10. Samasthiti (Tadasana)

Surya Namaskar B.

surya namaskar B.

This sun salutation sequence is little intensified compared to the previous one. As with every other Ashtanga Vinyasa sequence, every breath is accompanied by a movement in successive poses. B Surya Namaskar is always followed by the A sequence before each Ashtanga Vinyasa class.

There are 19 poses in the Surya Namaskar B sequence;

  1. Samasthiti (Tadasana)
  2. Chair Posture (Utkatasana)
  3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  4. Half forward bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
  5. Four Limb Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  6. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  7. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  8. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
  9. Four Limb Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  10. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  11. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  12. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
  13. Four Limb Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
  14. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
  15. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  16. Half forward bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
  17. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
  18. Chair Posture (Utkatasana)
  19. Mountain pose (Samasthiti or Tadasana)

As you will notice, a river flows from four-limbed posture → upward dog → downward dog → warrior I. Repeated 3 times in the order. This is a strength building vinyasa flow that is at the heart of the Surya Namaskar B sequence.

For a beginner, Ashtanga Surya Namaskar can be daunting as in this case one needs to flow quickly between the quick transition poses and synchronized breathing. But it's great for building stamina and detoxifying the body.

4. Iyengar Surya Namaskar

iyengar sun salutation

Iyenger's type of Surya Namaskar is a rapidly changing flow of postures and is similar to the Hatha Surya Namaskar. It also includes 12 yoga poses, but this is where you can personalize the flow with some props and play around with traditional poses. However, in most Iyengar classes, the order of Surya Namaskar's poses remains as follows:

  1. Tadasana (mountain pose)
  2. Urdhva Hastasana (hand position up)
  3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  4. Ardha Uttanasana (half standing forward bend) *
  5. Uttitha Chaturanga Dandasana (high plank pose) *
  6. Chaturanga Dandasana (four-bar posture) *
  7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog) *
  8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog pose) *
  9. Ardha Uttanasana (half standing forward bend) *
  10. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  11. Urdhva Hastasana (hand position up)
  12. Tadasana (mountain pose)

* Poses are new Iyengar-style poses that will be replaced with various alternate poses. The late B.K.S Iyengar, who is the founder of Iyengar Yoga, did not mention the creation of this sun salutation sequence. Although it is widely used in the Power Yoga session.

Iyengar sun salutation demonstration

The tempo of Iyengar's sun salutation is somewhat between the Hatha style and the Ashtanga style. Since the Iyengar yoga style is uniquely known for its alignment and precision in poses, the sun salutation is a little more intense here. However, adding props to the poses offers a variety of ways to change the poses. It strengthens the upper body and cardiovascular endurance.


In different yoga schools, the order and the poses of Surya Namaskar differ slightly. It has made several types of surya namaskar, however all variations of it are derived from the traditional one.

For beginners, it is recommended to start with the traditional Surya Namaskar of Hatha Yoga. It is so because here you can find stability in the flow of the poses and stay in any position for 4 to 5 breaths. However, advanced practitioners prefer fast-paced Ashtanga surya namaskar.