Bring your Sun Salutation to Life again. ~ Meryl Davids Landau

Via elephant journal
on Aug 31, 2011
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sun salutation
Photo: Barry Silver

For years I hated doing Surya Namaskara, the Sun Salutation.

I know, I know… this “mother of all yoga poses” is supposed to warm the body, strengthen muscles and detoxify organs. And, of course, call the power of the sun to fire you up inside.

But I was impatient to get to my more favored poses. I disliked the way this 12-step series sucked up so much class time. Not to mention that it strained my wrists and left me breathless.

Then one day it dawned on me.

typing on keyboard
Photo: Jhayne

Since appreciating whatever you’re doing is a key spiritual teaching, I needed to change my perspectiveon this pose.

Hoping to discover an interesting variation, or maybe a discussion that would reinvigorate this vinyasa, I searched “sun salutation” on my computer. Several websites suggested adding visualizations to each stage of the series. Although their imagery didn’t appeal to me, I thought it was a great idea, so I developed my own.

Since then I have adored this flowing series, and I get so much out of performing it.

When I had Lorna, the main character in my new novel, take up yoga, it seemed only fitting that I should have her discover my beloved visualization. On her yoga teacher’s recommendation, Lorna uses these mental pictures, both serious and fun, to breathe life into her sun salutation.

Try it to deepen your vinyasa, too:

  1. Palms together at your chest. Connect with the loving energy inside your heart.
  2. Stretch your arms out, up and back. Envision the warmth of the sun and indeed the entire universe dancing on your face.
  3. Fold forward toward the ground. Expand your appreciation to all of Mother Earth.
  4. Left leg back, left knee on the floor, back arched, arms stretch up. Remember that even when you feel low, you are always connected to your higher self.
  5. Both legs back, arms straight in a plank. Get in touch with the inner strength that never leaves you.
  6. Lower your knees, chest and chin to the ground. Remember to be humble around other people, since they too are extensions of the universal energy.
  7. Pelvis to the floor, chest rises up in a cobra pose.Extend your sense of oneness to all the animals in the world.

    sun salutations
    Photo: Diamond Mountain
  8. Upside-down V of “Downward Dog.” I can’t remember what my teacher said about this one, so I just give the universe a quick, friendly wave of my butt.
  9.  Left leg forward, right knee on the floor, back arched, arms stretch up. Start to rise up to your full potential.
  10. Fold forward as in position three. Remember to pause to gather your inner resources before taking action.
  11. Stretch up and back. Open yourself to the full universal energy once more.
  12. Palms together at your chest. Realize that this higher power always resides within you.


Meryl Davids Landau is the author of the new spiritual women’s novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog. The novel was recently recommended as a “great summer read” by the Yoga Journal and Everything Yoga blogs, and Science of Mind’s national newsletter says: “Lorna’s struggles are sure to resonate with anyone on the path of conscious awareness.” Excerpts are available here.



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10 Responses to “Bring your Sun Salutation to Life again. ~ Meryl Davids Landau”

  1. elizabeth says:

    i would like to post the comments left on the flickr page for the sun salutation drawing posted above:

    MasTaPiannis (43 months ago | reply) – Instant classic.
    Why do you get shorter when you lift your arms overhead?

    gbSk (43 months ago | reply) -it is a rare disorder that's origins are difficult to explain. although the effects are only temporary, it is embarrassing when my shorts fall off.

  2. Mallory says:

    Thank you for this! I've never had an issue with Surya Namaskara, but my yoga practice was not up to par this morning.. this sheds a new light on it.

  3. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  4. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thank you Meryl!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  5. Elizabeth, thanks for sharing the flickr comments; they’re so funny. Of course, the drawing is not mine (and the steps in that sun salutation vary slightly from the ones I use in this article). But I noticed soon after this was posted that the man seemed to shrink and grow as he progresses through the 12 steps, and was amused to see others have, also. Maybe surya namaskara is even more powerful than we give it credit for!

  6. […] readers have also really embraced the Surya Namaskar visualization that Lorna used and that you wrote about previously for Elephant Journal. In fact, many have admitted to not only adding it to their own practice but to teaching it to […]

  7. […] –Surya Namaskara A (Three to five times) […]

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  9. Jenny says:

    What a great idea… I've always enjoyed this series, but this will definitely add something to my practice. For "downward dog" I would say something like: "I bow to the universe in it's beautifully impermanent perfection" although I like the "butt wiggle" as well. 🙂