The True Purpose of Sun Salutations

Zoning out during Sun Salutations? Tune back in to experience the amazing feel-good benefits of this unique yoga sequence!

If you have a habit of going through your Sun Salutations on autopilot, it’s time to stop for a second and think about what they really mean. This unique yoga sequence is about a lot more than just warming up your body for a workout. By skimming through these poses, you are shortchanging yourself on a deeper and more meaningful yoga experience. According to, in order to reap the true benefits of Sun Salutations, mindfulness is key!

The Sanskrit name Namaskar was slightly short-changed when it was translated to Salutation. The root of nama, meaning “to bow” and in some cases “not me,” tells a more meaningful story about the sequence’s original purpose. “Of course it is a beautiful greeting, but it was also meant to be a transformative experience to release the burden of our personal obsessions and just come back to essence,” says Shiva Rea…

Of course, the sequence does have awesome physical benefits as well, which is why so many yogis practice it at the beginning of a yoga session or class.

As physical exercise, Sun Salutation is a contained, all-in-one practice in itself. As you progress through its steady sequence of opposing actions—front-body offerings followed by the surrender of forward folds—a Namaskar integrates all the counter-asanas necessary to feel balanced in your body by the time you complete it, Rea says.

However, the benefits of mindful practice of Sun Salutations also helps you tune into a relaxed, meditative state that has many benefits for your state of mind. By performing your practice with attention and reverence, says Rea, you can experience rasa, an embodied communication with that within and around us, as well as the feeling state known as bhava, which provides “a chance to cultivate the soil from which movement meditation will grow.”

Next time you begin to move into your Sun Salutations as simply a  warm-up for what is to come, take a breath, turn your body towards the sun or moon, and focus inwards as you begin your practice. And remember that, as with anything in life, you only get out of your yoga practice what you put into it!


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