There a a ton of ways to move into Surya Namaskar A, and if you’ve practiced for a little while you’ve probably messed with many of them. Age, interest, energy, injury, and time all have great shaping pressures on the appropriate sun salutation.
The union of breath, movement, and gaze can really be refined and expressed through surya namaskar A, and I can think of few other postures + movements with greater immediate practice of mula and uddiyana bandha. There is also the fact that tail up, head down also begins the practice of sense withdrawal/pratyahara.
One of my recent perspectives has been to emphasize more the idea of limbering and mobilizing, rather than stretching and therefore striving, and in my own practice I try to allow myself to move as a marionette, drawn by the strings of the breath, rather than immediately trying to smack my forehead to my shins.
It’s also often a phenomenal practice in watching the comparative mind burble up. I think maybe I’ve logged a couple thousand sun salutations since 1998? My mind produces lots of helpful comparisons for each part of the sun salutation: how it felt last week, last year, when I was “young,” etc etc.
I thought here I would show a few more ways to get into chaturanga dandasana. The half-pike press is a little fancy and does require a considerable inhale to maintain breath count.
Personally, I never learned the dynamic explosion back to the bottom of chaturanga, but have since come around to appreciate the dynamism, especially as a heating prelude to other movement.
Finally, I love the step-back through lunge, if only because after 9 million hours per week of carpool, it’s great to get into the front of the legs.
Also, I’ll confess that as I’ve pursued other, much more demanding physical pursuits, often I simply don’t have the gas, or I’ve been injured, and simply don’t want to leap, jump, or press up into anything!
Come get into your own sun salutation (and more) at the Primary Series 6-class series at Yoga Pearl. Enroll here: http://www.yogapearl.com/ashtanga-primary-series/
Also, come press/pike/lunge your way through sun salutations in Primary and Intermediate Series Saturations (Feb and April)!
Jason owns and directs Portland Ashtanga Yoga.