Start Your Day Right: Sun Salutations

Start Your Day Right: Sun Salutations

This week, we’re talking all about linking your body, breath, and mind with energizing yoga movements called Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskar.

The original Surya Namaskar was not just a sequence of yoga postures, but a line of sacred words honoring the sun as a symbol of the Divine – Namaskar means “to bow”.

Today, it’s a popular practice in yoga and consists of 12 simple but powerful poses.  It’s really great for getting the blood flowing in your body, improving flexibility, calming your mind, and can even improve digestion!

HOW TO DO A SUN SALUTATION

Pay particularly close attention to your breathing. Modify any poses that are outside your range of motion. Performing just one or two of these poses will give you great benefits. The sequence of 12 poses together is one full Sun Salutation. When doing multiple sequences, alternate which foot you step back with first.

Standing Mountain Pose — Tadasana

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Press your palms together in prayer position.
  • Rest your thumbs on your sternum and take several breaths.

Upward Salute — Urdhva Hastasana

  • Inhale as you sweep your arms out and to the side and overhead.
  • Gently arch your back and gaze toward the sky.

Standing Forward Fold — Uttanasana

  • Exhale as you fold forward from the hips. Bend your knees if necessary.
  • Rest your hands beside your feet and bring your nose to your knees.

Half Standing Forward Fold — Ardha Uttanasana

  • Inhale as you lift your torso halfway, lengthening your spine forward so your back is flat.
  • Your torso should be parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your fingertips on the floor or bring them to your shins.

Four-Limbed Staff Pose — Chaturanga Dandasana

  • Exhale as you step or jump back into Plank Pose (High Push-Up Pose), with your hands under your shoulders and feet hip-distance apart.
  • Continue exhaling as you lower your body toward the floor.
  • Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides.
  • If needed, come to your knees for Half Chaturanga. Otherwise, keep your legs straight and reach back through your heels.

Upward-Facing Dog Pose — Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

  • Inhale as you draw your chest forward and straighten your arms.
  • Draw your shoulders back and lift your heart to the sky.
  • Press through the tops of your feet, lifting your thighs off the floor and fully engaging your leg muscles.
  • Keep your elbows tucked in toward your sides.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose — Adho Mukha Svanasana

  • Exhale as you lift your hips and roll over your toes, placing the soles of your feet on the floor. Your heels do not need to touch the ground.
  • Ground down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine. • Lift your belly and sit bones toward the sky. Stay here for five breaths.
  • On your last exhalation, bend your knees and look between your hands.

Half Standing Forward Fold — Ardha Uttanasana

  • Inhale as you step or jump both feet between your hands.
  • Lift your torso halfway, lengthening your spine forward so your back is flat. Your torso should be parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your fingertips on the floor, or bring them to your shins.

Standing Forward Fold — Uttanasana

  • Exhale as you fold your torso over your thighs. Bend your knees if necessary.
  • Rest your hands beside your feet and bring your nose to your knees.

Upward Salute — Urdhva Hastasana

  • Inhale as you sweep your arms out to the side and extend up once again.
  • Gently arch your back and gaze toward the sky.

Mountain Pose — Tadasana

  • Exhale as you come back into Mountain Pose.
  • Bring your hands into prayer position.
  • Rest your thumbs on your sternum.
  • Repeat the sequence two or more times.

It is important to remember to:

  1. Let every inhalation and exhalation lead you into a next pose – do not force anything.
  1. Practice your movements with gratitude and think about what you’re thankful for in your life.
  1. Add mantras such as Om when you breathe out to enhance your level of participation.
  1. If you’re able to, practice this outside in the sun whenever you can. Feel the rays of the sun on your body as you perform the movements.

Sun Salutations are a perfect practice to awaken your body, focus your mind, and connect you to a sense of gratitude for the new day.

Your challenge is to practice Sun Salutations once every day each morning before you begin your day, and make this part of your daily routine!

Even if you’re not into yoga, I encourage you to give this a try. Are you in?! Let me know in a comment!

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