While we’ve covered the basics of Sun Salutation and why you should be doing them, I thought we should dig deeper into the pose. Sun Salutations aren’t just for the perfect morning, they can also really get you back into your groove in the afternoon. When you ditch the cup of caffeinated coffee for a burst of sunny physical energy, you might find that you get the same benefit without the added calories.
Of course, we aren’t going to judge if you still grab that perfect cuppa after you’ve recharged yourself with a sweetly, sunny disposition.
The best way to get that burst of mood boosting vinyasa is to better understand how to properly do the slight backbend from Mountain, forward fold and then transition to plank. One of the best ways to really break this pose down is to understand your breath and intention.
Start by setting your intention like “self-love”, “compassion”, or “sending out positive light” all of which can increase the positive energy while you are doing the pose. You can pick any intention you like just as long as you feel that energy as you inhale and exhale in order to really internalize and omit that positive vibe as you go through the Sun Salutation.
The more quickly you move through your Sun Salutations, the more stimulating the pose. Which is why it’s crucial to understand your movements through the pose and how it relates to breath. The following is an intentionally slowed down version with additional breathes.
Bring your body into mountain pose with your hands at your heart. Be sure to breathe deeply into your diaphragm. Inhale your arms up over your head, press the palms and exhale. Inhale lengthen the spine and exhale into the backbend. Here, you want to engage and make sure your legs are active. Inhale to center and exhale bend at the knees and hinge at the hips into your forward fold with a flat back. In forward fold, you want to loosen your neck and head completely as you go into this pose. Inhale to half lift with palms to the shins and exhale plant the hands to the mat and step your right foot back into a lunge. Keep your left knee aligned over the ankle. Inhale and exhale into your plank. Check in mentally with your body, making sure it is in one straight line.
Another modification when first learning Sun Salutations is to skip the backbend. The sequence can be performed with or without it. Personally I found when I first started, the backbend definitely added a balance challenge and that my spine was not ready for the extension. Try it both ways and see what works for you and where you currently are in your practice.
From here you will go into Chaturanga Dandasana, which we will cover in Breaking Down the Poses in Sun Salutation - Part 2. In the next article, you will learn how to perfectly end this mood boosting sequence.
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