Salute the Sun: A Guide to Surya Namaskara B

So, you’re crushing it with Surya Namaskara A!

Or, like a lot of us, maybe you’re not exactly there yet but you’re becoming more and more comfortable in the flow of body and breath with every round you practice. Wherever you’re at, that’s your spot. Don’t worry about how it looks or how flexible you are or how many times you have to stop and take extra breaths. Just keep on with the practice; it’ll ebb and flow like everything else in life.

Even when I don’t feel like rolling out of bed in the morning, those few Sun Salutations can really make a world of difference in how I choose to move through my day. Surya Namaskara A is fantastic for getting the body moving, the breath flowing, and the muscles lengthening after a (hopefully) good night’s sleep. Practicing even just one round will zap you back to life in no time!

If you’re excited about the energy and perspective that Sun Salutation A is adding to your routine, you might be curious about exploring Sun Salutation B. What are the differences? Does the “B” part mean it’s more advanced? How many rounds should you do and does it replace Surya A?

Never fear! We’ll talk about all this and a ton more in the next couple weeks, along with diving into detail about the alignment, modifications, and benefits of each pose in the sequence. It always helps me to see things laid out as a big picture, so here’s the sequence and breath pattern in list format to help you compare Surya B with what you know of the first Sun Salutation.

Surya Namaskara B:

  1. Samastitihi (equal standing)
  2. Utkatasana (chair pose)   inhale
  3. Uttanasana A (forward fold)   exhale
  4. Uttanasana B (half lift)   inhale
  5. Chaturanga Dandasana   exhale
  6. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog)   inhale
  7. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)   exhale
  8. Virabadhrasana I – right side (Warrior I)   inhale
  9. Vinyasa (Chaturanga Dandasana through Adho Mukha Svanasana)   exhale-inhale-exhale
  10. Virabadhrasana I – left side (Warrior I)   inhale
  11. Vinyasa    exhale-inhale-exhale
  12. Adho Mukha Svanasana (five breaths)
  13. Uttanasana B (half lift)   inhale
  14. Uttanasana A (forward fold)   exhale
  15. Utkatasana (chair pose)   inhale
  16. Samastitihi (equal standing)   exhale

As you can see, Surya A and Surya B are pretty similar; the main differences are Utkatasana (instead of Urdhva Vriksasana) and the introduction of Virabadhrasana I, tied into the Vinyasa flow that will become super important if you end up following your Sun Salutations with the Ashtanga series.

Speaking of the Ashtanga series, I’ll go ahead and answer one of the questions I mentioned above: how many rounds of Surya Namaskara B should you do?

In the Ashtanga tradition, we practice five rounds of Surya A, followed by five rounds of Surya B, to really get the body warmed up and prepared for the challenging poses still to come in the standing and seated series. However, keep in mind that this is the traditional perspective, and you should always listen to your body. If you feel like you need to start out with fewer (or even if you don’t have time on any given day), don’t worry about it! Just do what you’re capable of and let the guidelines go.

While the two sequences are similar, I find that Sun Salutation A awakens my flexibility and Sun Salutation B revs up my willpower. I’m not gonna lie: five rounds of Sun Salutation B (especially first thing in the morning) is HARD! It’s gonna feel so kick-ass, though, when you stick with it and breathe through it, knowing that you just ignited your inner flame and came out of things a little bit stronger than you were at the beginning.

I’ll see you back here next week to kick things off with Utkatasana!

Love, light, and down-dogs!

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