Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations are the most complete set of postures for a daily practice, bringing vitality to the spine, energizing the breath and stretching and strengthening the entire body.  There are many variations of how to link the postures, and the simplest one is what we’ll learn in this sequence. Over time and with experience, you’ll learn how to insert Warrior postures and perhaps add jump-backs and other enhancements, but the basic sequence of folding the spine and opening the spine, forward followed by back bend is always the same. Allow your sequence to flow with your breath, working up to one posture for each inhale or exhale, but as you’re learning allow yourself to remain in a posture long enough to have a calm, steady breath before moving on. For your first several rounds, focus just on moving with your breath. After you have a feeling for the flow, you can focus on when to inhale and exhale.

Things you might want to have handy: Yoga Mat, Yoga Blocks

It is recommended to perform the warm-up first, before starting this routine.


Step 1: Starting Position, Mountain

Duration: 1 breath
Review Pose: Mountain Pose

At the top of your mat, stand with your feet hip width apart and engage your leg muscles and arm muscles as you press your feet into the earth and draw your shoulder blades together on your back. Draw your pelvic up, which will draw your tailbone down like a plumb line to the ground. Lift your sternum, and draw your chin back so your head is balanced and your neck relaxed. Your gaze and face are soft and your focus is about 4 feet in front of your face.


Step 2: Upward Hands Pose

Duration: Inhale

On your next inhalation, turn your palms up and reach your arms out to your side and up overhead, looking up toward your thumbs. Maintain mindfulness of your internal stability as you move your arms up and overhead by keeping your pelvic floor lifted and your belly lifting up and back to your spine.


Step 3: High Lunge
Duration: Exhale, Inhale
Review Pose: High Lunge

Exhale and step your left foot back, staying on the toes of your left foot with your heel in the air.  Keeping your right knee bent and over your ankle, moving toward the little toe side of your foot. Center your lifted rib cage over your hips. Hands can be on your hips or overhead, and shoulder blades together on your back.


Step 4: Plank
Duration: Exhale, Inhale
Review Pose: Plank Pose

Exhale and lower your hands to either side of your right foot and step your right foot back beside your left, creating a long, strong line from heels to head, like the top of a push-up. Allow your chest to be broad and supported by your shoulder blades coming together on your back. Support your back with your belly button. You may drop your knees to the ground immediately as you gain strength and confidence, but keep your hips in line with your legs and torso and your neck neutral and soft.


Step 5: Knees-Chest-Chin
Duration: Exhale
Review Pose: Knees-Chest-Chin Pose

As you exhale, lower your knees if you haven’t already, and follow by bending your elbows close into your chest and with your hips still lifted, lowering your chest and chin to the ground. You’ll look and feel a bit like an inchworm.


Step 6: Cobra

Duration: Inhale
Review Pose: Cobra Pose

With your hands under your shoulders, press your hips and the tops of your feet into the ground and draw your sternum forward first and then lift your head and chest without pressing into your hands first, assisting after by pressing your hands into the ground, elbows close to your ribcage, only as high as your low back is at ease and your pelvis on the ground.

Step7: Downward Facing Dog
Duration: Exhale, then 5 breaths
Review Pose: Downward Facing Dog

Exhale and draw your hips back, as if to move to child’s pose, even substituting child’s pose if you need a rest. To move to Down Dog, turn your toes under as your hips come back, and lift your sitting bones to the sky behind you, as you maintain an engaged core and easy neck. Stay until your breath normalizes.

    
Step 8: High Lunge, other side
Duration: Inhale
Review Pose: High Lunge

Inhale, look forward, bending your knees and step forward with your left foot. If your foot doesn’t make it all the way to the inside of your left hand, use your hand at the back of your calf to help it forward. With time you’ll learn to engage your core to sweep your leg forward. Follow the wave of the breath up the spine as you unfurl your heart and lift your hands to your hips or the sky.


Step 9: Chair Pose
Duration: Exhale
Review Pose: Chair Pose

With hands at your heart or lifted to the sky, step your right foot forward so that your big toes touch. Keep both knees bent and center your weight over your heels so that you can see your toes past your knees. Maintain a lifted pelvic floor and belly, a long spine and lifted sternum. You may look forward or up to your thumbs.


Step 10: Upward Hands Pose
Duration: Inhale

As you inhale, press the Earth away and lift your kneecaps to straighten your legs and lift your heart, gaze on your thumbs as your hands reach for the sky.
    

Step 11: Mountain
Duration: Exhale
Review Pose: Mountain Pose

Centering your weight over your feet and hips, close your eyes and draw your hands down in front of your heart. Allow your breath to stabilize, observe how your body supports itself and make small internal adjustments create optimum support for your spine, the openness of your chest, ease of your neck and jaw and engagement of your feet and legs.


Step 12:
Repeat entire sequence stepping back and forward with the opposite foot from last time. This concludes one cycle of Sun Salutation. Do as many cycles as you’d like, up to 108, in groups of two to balance each side of the body.

 


Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.


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