Since adding two early morning classes to the schedule this week (7:15am), I've been thinking a lot about Sun Salutations. Known as Surya Namaskar in Sanskrit, this series of postures is a beautiful way to start your day; invoking the sun and greeting the morning. Physically, it also makes sense to practice Surya Namaskar in the morning. This series wakes up the whole body, lengthening and strengthening major muscle groups plus energizing the respiratory and circulatory systems.
Different schools of yoga teach different Sun Salutation series', but in general there are about 8 key poses, or asanas. Yoga Journal provides a nice step-by-step outline of a Sun Salutation, which you can find at this link. Here in the studio, we teach steps 5 & 6 in slightly different ways (raising the arms in lunge before plank, and moving to cobra pose instead of upward facing dog) but this is still a nice outline for anyone wishing to incorporate Sun Salutations into their home practice.
Another nice example is this video by Shiva Rae. Love that sunrise in the background!
If you're interested in the history and tradition of Surya Namaskar, Richard Rosen offers a good description here. He brings attention to the ancient roots of Sun Salutation (it's 2500 years old!) and it's intention as a means to honor the sun as the "physical and spiritual heart of our world...".
Next time you're up early try taking a few minutes to practice Sun Salutation before work or school. Find a deep connection to your breath as you experiment in the series, and enjoy the multitude of benefits of practicing Surya Namaskar before starting your day.