Two weeks ago I got lucky enough to team up with my friend, yoga instructor Vanessa Jackson, to work on Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar, at Bombay Yoga Company. The studio was really open and inviting with a lot of light, and I urge anyone in the Philadelphia area to take a visit!
So why Sun Salutations?
- they express gratitude for the sun, without which life wouldn’t be possible
- they awaken the energy center, your own inner sun, which can warm the body physically & mentally
- speed up the blood flow while putting the mind at ease, which leads to meditation
- help to link the mind and body through breathing, as a moving meditation; putting focus on our breathing can help bring us to the present
- stretch and flex the body, which is good as both a warm up and a stand-alone workout
- standing poses ground you and help you find your center
- are done in the morning after waking, as a way to start the day with intention
We did Surya Namaskar A, or the first Sun Salutation, for you:
1. Start in Samasthiti, or Mountain Pose, keeping your posture strong and aligned. It may seem like a simple pose, but it’s important to be aware of yourself and your body as you keep your spine straight and maintain your balance.
2. Inhale, and turn your palms out, drawing your arms up over your head into Urdhva Hastasana, or Upward Salute. You want to raise your gaze up to your hands, allowing yourself to have a gentle backbend, opening up the chest.
3. Exhale, and with arms reaching, fold forward at the hips into Uttanasana, or Standing Forward Fold (pretty self explanatory). Make sure your bend originates within your hips rather than your back so you can get a deeper bend, and so you don’t hurt yourself.
4. Inhale and lift your torso halfway, lengthening your spine until your back is flat, into Ardha Uttanasana, or Half Standing Forward Fold. Let yourself feel rooted through your heels, with fingertips on the ground or your shins, depending how the stretch feels.
5. Exhale and jump or step back into Plank Pose. In the same exhale, shift your weight and bending at the elbows, lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the floor in Chaturanga Dandasana, or Four-Limbed Staff Pose. Be sure to hold your core strong and not let your hips dip down.
6. Inhale and straighten your arms, letting your chest expand as you pull your shoulders back, rolling over your toes into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, or Upward Facing Dog. You want to push through the tops of your feet so your thighs are raised, engaging your leg muscles! The only thing touching the floor should be your palms and feet.
7. Exhale, and lift your hips up and back, rolling over your toes again to put your soles on the ground in Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward Facing Dog Pose. Pause here for 5 breaths, letting this be a resting pose as you hold yourself with strength, focusing on your breathing.
8. At the end of your 5th exhale, step or jump your feet forward to your hands. Inhale, and straighten your spine, lifting your chest halfway into Ardha Uttanasana again.
9. Exhale as you release, bending at your waist once again into the deep fold of Uttanasana, softening your back.
10. Inhale, and rise fully, reaching your arms over your head, opening your chest and taking a slight backbend into Urdhva Hastasana.
11. Exhale, and return to Samasthiti, the Mountain Pose you started in.
While I’m admittedly really bad at exercise of any sort (aside from biking), this seems like a practice I could really see myself trying to get behind, if only to get a better mental footing on the day ahead of me. I hope you’ll try it out and let me know your thoughts below!