Tag: back bends

Sun Salutations and Gratitude Class

The sequence of yoga poses known as Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar dates as far back as 2,800 years. There are as many different versions of the sequence as there are styles of yoga, as well as multiple variations of Sun Salutations within a single style.

In this class, you will experience two sequences commonly known as Surya Namaskar A and Surya Namaskar B.

Sun Salutations include some of the most common yoga positions:

  • Standing Backbend
  • Standing Forward Fold
  • Plank Position
  • Cobra
  • Downward Facing Dog

These five poses are integral to Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga, and for good reason! They allow us to explore a very important an often neglected range of motion in our bodies: the flexion and extension of our spine.

The 280º Spine

The woman pictured above is not showing an example of the full 280º range of the spine, not even close. First off, she only exploring maybe 10 percent of the amazing 115º range of flexion and extension of the cervical spine (aka the neck).

Practicing the five poses mentioned above is an excellent way to tune into the needs of your neck, shoulders, and back.

Is your neck stiff and tight?
Are your shoulders rolled forward?
Does your middle or lower back ache?


Sun Salutations provide a way to explore these types of tension in the body and find relief. The results can include:

  • Relief from Tension and Sore Muscles
  • Improved Respiration and Circulation
  • Improved Muscle Tone
  • Improved Posture
  • An Overwhelming Sense of Gratitude

The Grateful Monkey God

In Hindu mythology, the first Sun Salutations were practiced by the monkey god, Hanuman. It’s a lovely parable about learning hard lessons, perseverance, and dedication. But it’s the story told between the lines — the way in which Hanuman is inspired to practice — that reveals the real insights to the origin of the series of poses.

The step-back-step-forward movement of the sequence; the sense of gratitude that comes with bowing and placing your hands together before your heart — Sun Salutations can feel like a devotional practice. It is a heart-centered moving meditation that is useful for building energy and giving thanks.