Happy SunDay FunDay everyone!
I thought today would be the perfect day to dive into our ever present (and favorite) vinyasa flow, the Sun Salution, or Surya Namaskar.
My favorite thing about Sun Salutations is that they include a strengthening pose and a stretching pose for every single muscle group. Because of this, they are perfect as a warm up or as your whole practice. (Ready for a mala anyone?)
There are so many variations of this sequence and honestly every single one of them is correct. As long as you are connecting with your breath and moving with intention, you can’t go wrong.
I always start class with a few rounds of Standing Vinyasas or 1/2 Salutations. I think these are the perfect way to become reconnected with your breath without any risk of injury or fatigue. (I also love these as a warm up for my theatre classes and performances because they can be done anywhere, any time, wearing just about anything.)
Start in Mountain Pose, then on your inhale breath reach arms up over head.
Your exhale dives you forward toward your toes for a forward fold.
Inhale lifts half way for a flat spine, or Ardah Utanasana, and then your following exhale allows you to relax back into your fold.
Inhale breath lifts you all the way to standing, arms up overhead, and then your exhale brings your hands to your heart center.
Your feet stay planted throughout and we focus on moving intentionally through our shoulders and hips.
I usually take 3 – 5 at a time and then either continue on or close my eyes and tune in to my heartbeat and breath, noticing how I feel now.
Surya Namaskar A begins exactly the same way – then continues from Ardah, or your half lift. After that, on your exhale, you plant your palms and walk your feet back to Downward Facing Dog – stretching your tailbone up and back.
Your inhale breath brings you forward toward a plank or push up position, then your exhale breath allows you to lower down. You can drop down to your knees and lower all the way to your belly or take a full Chaturanga.
From there your inhale pulls your heart forward for Cobra or Upward Facing Dog and your exhale presses you back to Downward Facing Dog – you can make that transition by moving through Table Top or through Plank.
From your Downward Dog, use your inhale breath to move your feet to the top of the mat and exhale to release into your forward fold.
Your following inhale lifts you half way for a flat spine. Exhale to release.
Then taking your deepest breath in, reach all the way to standing, arms up over head and allow your exhale to bring your hands to your heart.
Again, I usually take 3 – 5 of these at a time then either continue to my next sequence or take a moment to check in with my mind, body, and heart.
In every one of these poses, we think about lengthening the spine from tailbone to crown and evenly distributing your weight across any body parts making contact with the mat.
Surya Namaskar B moves a little deeper into lunges and extensions. Again, we start just the same (but this time adding Chair Pose to the top of the sequence), moving through Sun Salutation A until we reach our second Downward Dog.
From there you use your inhale breath to reach your right leg up and back for a 3 – Legged – Dog, then pull that foot through to the space between your thumbs on your exhale.
Our inhale lets us rise into what ever lunging position is right for today. You can take a Low Lunge, High Crescent, or even Warrior I.
Exhale will bring your palms back to the mat and step you back to Downward Dog. Repeat the same lunging sequence on the left foot. Then flow through the rest of our vinyasa sequence; plank, chataranga, cobra, down-dog, forward fold, half lift, fold, chair, reach to standing, and hands to heart. (We are getting really good at these by now right?)
You can take a few rounds of these as well and maybe play with holding your lunges a little longer or moving on your breath.
Once you start to get the hang of these variations, they will begin to flow a little more naturally and become a moving meditation where you can allow your breath, body, and mind to sync as you move.
Take a little time today to get your body moving, breath flowing, and heart beating.
Set an intention and use these sequences to get you feeling grounded and energized and let me know what your go-to Sun Salutation is.