Without the power of the sun our world, and life as we know it, would not exist. It is our basic source of energy and is one of the pranic forces (life forces, chi) that keep us alive. One of the most powerful sequences in yoga is therefore in honour of the sun and is called The Salute to the Sun.

This sequence of twelve classical yoga postures, which flow into each other, works almost every muscle in the body. It is an excellent cardiovascular workout. If you cannot get to a yoga class and have been doing yoga regularly, then do 10 rounds of the Salute to the Sun and it will give your body and mind an excellent challenge. Each movement is accompanied by either an inhalation or an exhalation and it is important to get the rhythm of the breath to match the rhythm of the movement or else you will become breathless and tired. The yoga breath (ujjayi breath) is essential to this practice. Attempt to keep your breathing as long and as even as possible. This sequence should be done in an even flowing manner. If you have never done this sequence before, then start off by attempting to do one round. This would mean that you do the sequence twice: the first time taking the right leg back and then doing the sequence again, taking the left leg back.

12 Exhale and straighten your body as you return your hands to the prayer position in front of your chest.
sun1 1 Stand in the Mountain Posture (Tadasana), with your feet together, your inner thighs pulled tightly towards each other and engage your buttock muscles. Place your hands in the prayer position in front of your sternum. Take a preparatory breath, in and out.
sun1111 Inhale and swoop your arms slowly forwards and up above your head, tightening your buttock muscles as you lean backwards.
sun22 On your next inhalation stretch your arms out in front of you in a fluid movement as you take them up above your head and lean as far backwards as you can.
sun1010 Exhale and step your left foot forwards, placing it next to the right foot, so that you are once again in the Standing Forward Bend.
sun33 Exhale and stretch slowly forwards, from the hips, into the Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana).
sun44 Inhale and take your right leg as far back as possible. Rest the right knee on the floor and lift your sternum. Sink down in the groin area.
sun99 Inhale and step your right foot forwards between your hands, dropping the left knee to the floor. Keep your hands on the floor. Stretch your sternum upwards. Drop in the groin area.
sun55 On your next half-exhalation take your left foot back and place it next to your right foot so that you are in the Plank Posture. Now the more advanced yoga practitioner should suspend the breath for a count of three or four beats.
sun88 As you breath out curl your toes under and push back on your hands, raising your knees and tailbone upwards so that you move into the Downward Facing Dog Stretch (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
sun66 With the remainder of the exhalation drop your knees to the floor, move your buttocks backwards and place you chest and forehead on the floor, sliding forwards slowly, until you are stretched out with your hands underneath your shoulders. This is called the Caterpillar.
sun77 Inhale and lift your head and chest off of the floor so that you move into the Cobra Posture (Bhujangasana). You MUST tighten your knees and buttocks to protect your lower back in this intense backward bend.

Take a recovery breath, in and out and then repeat the entire sequence. This time take your left foot back in step 4 and bring the left foot forward in step 9.
This comprises one complete round of the Salute to the Sun. When you have completed as many rounds as you can comfortably manage stand with your feet about a metre apart and drop down into a gentle, soft forward bend to allow the heart rate and the breathing to return to normal. After this it is essential that you lie flat on your back in the Pose of the Corpse (Savasana) for at least ten minutes to relax. Burn your favourite aromatherapy oil and put on some calming music. Do some deep breathing and/or visualisation.