Sun Salutations, sometimes called Surya Namaskara, are a series of specific poses that are linked to the breath. The Sun Salute A is a 12-step (and by the nature of vinyasa, 12-breath) sequence that warms up and aligns the body. Most times, sun salutations are practiced at the beginning of class.
To start, stand in tadasana (mountain pose) with your hands at your heart. On the inhale, stretch your hands towards the sky for urdva hastasana (upward hands pose), and on the exhale hinge at the hips for uttanasana (forward fold). As you breathe in, find ardha uttanasana (halfway lift) by placing your hands on the mat, your shins, or a block and lengthening the front of your torso.
Next comes your chaturanga (yoga pushup): start in high plank, and then, bend your elbows half way, keeping them hugging towards your chest, the whole time. Inhale for urdva mukha svanasana (upward facing dog): roll over your toes, press into your hands and lift the crown of your head high. Then exhale and lift your hips high for adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Breathe in downdog.
When you're ready, step (or jump) to the top and do it again!
You might find that repeating this sequence works as a moving meditation, and can actually help bring greater awareness into your body and breath.
If you're brand new to yoga or looking to get back to the basics, check out our new HTPY: Yoga for Beginners Series where you'll learn how to do sun salutations, chaturangas, power postures, and more.