How to Do a Perfect Sun Salutation Every Time You Step on Your Mat

If you ever taken a yoga class, you’ve likely found yourself cycling through a sun salutation. They’re the cornerstone of the Vinyasa practice, and help warm up your body in order to prep your muscles and joints for the rest of your flow. But as common as the sequence is, it’s also all too easy to mess up. As with any exercise you’re doing improperly, doing your sun salutation the wrong way greatly increases your risk of injury.

Some of the biggest mistakes that yoga teacher Tess Koenig sees in her students’ flows? Overarched, compressed, or rounded backs, heavy hopping, and inactive folding. All of these things can spell problems for your joints, especially when you’re doing them repeatedly over the course of a class (and as any Vinyasa lovers know, there tend to be a lot of sun sals in a 60-minute session).

“Sun sal is really hard—you’re warming up your body,” says Koenig, noting that these mistakes can happen to anyone, whether it’s their first time on the mat or their 10,000th. As a 10-plus year yoga vet who is constantly having yoga teachers adjust my down dog pretty much every time I'm in a class (...whoops!), I can confirm this to be overwhelmingly true.

Thankfully for me—and the rest of people out there who have trouble with sun salutations—Koenig shows us the right way to do a sun salutation in the latest episode of Well+Good's “The Right Way." In the clip, she demonstrates how to do move through the series in a way that will give your muscles the most out of the moves—and won’t get you hurt in the process. Check out the video for her full guide, and be sure subscribe to Well+Good’s YouTube channel for more yoga and fitness tips you won’t want to miss.

Pretty much every yoga teacher ever will tell you that this is the most relaxing pose to melt into. And if you're just getting into yoga for the first time, try this beginner flow to get you started.

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