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Sun Salutations To Increase Energy

Guest Author - Deborah Mauldin

Sun Salutations are a great way to warm up your body at the beginning of your practice, steadily build your endurance, flexibility and cardiovascular capacity, and even to get an effective practice into your day if you’re crunched on time.

Sun Salutation is translated from the Sanskrit Surya Namaskar. You may be familiar with the concept of Sun Salutation from the Ashtanga style of yoga, where Suryanamskar A and Surya Namaskar B form the foundation of an Ashtanga practice. Sun Salutations will wake up and energize your body by taking you gently through a full range motion as you inhale and exhale through each posture.

Anatomy of a Sun Salutation
Sun Salutations are made up of a family of postures. This family of postures can be added to or changed depending on the results you want to achieve. By using modifications and variations of these postures, Sun Salutations are available for anyone to practice.

Samasthiti (Standing At Attention)
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
Ajaneyasana (Forward Lunge)
Phalakasana (Plank Pose)
Chatarunga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose )
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)

Fire up Your Breath
Breathing is a key component to doing Sun Salutations. As you move you are either inhaling or exhaling. Full inhalations and exhalations serve to energize you and to encourage fuller, deeper movements that connect each posture to the next. By combining your breathing with your movement through the postures, your yoga will become a moving meditation.

The following are some examples of what a Sun Salutation can look like. Pay attention to the breath cues and move slowly, matching your movement with the length of your inhale and your exhales.

Begin in Samasthiti with hands pressed together at the heart.
INHALE Tadasana (Mountain Pose), arms high over head, palms face inward
EXHALE Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), swan dive forward
INHALE Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend), long spine, hands can be on the mat or on the shins
EXHALE Phalakasana (High Plank Pose) through Chattarunga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), long spine and press the heart upwards, modify by putting the knees on the mat
INHALE Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose), press through the hands and the tops of the feet, modify with Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) instead
EXHALE Adho Mukha Svanasna (Downward Facing Dog Pose)press the heels towards the mat and shrug the shoulders away from the ears
INHALE Look forward
EXHALE Bring the feet to the top of the mat
INHALE Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
EXHALE Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
INHALE Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with arms overhead
AND REPEAT SEQUENCE

Adding Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose) will give you another Sun Salutation Sequence.

Begin in Samasthiti with hands pressed together at the heart.
INHALE Utkatasana (Chair Pose), weight in the heels, arms high over head, palms face inward
EXHALE Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), swan dive forward
INHALE Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend), long spine, hands can be on the mat or on the shins
EXHALE Phalakasana (High Plank Pose) through Chattarunga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), long spine and press the heart upwards between the shoulder blades, modify by putting the knees on the mat
INHALE Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose), press through the hands and the tops of the feet, modify with Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) instead
EXHALE Adho Mukha Svanasna (Downward Facing Dog Pose)press the heels towards the mat and shrug the shoulders away from the ears
INHALE Ajaneyasana (Low Lunge) into Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose) with the right foot forward.
EXHALE Phalakasana (High Plank Pose) through Chattarunga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), long spine and press the heart upwards, modify by putting the knees on the mat
INHALE Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog Pose), press through the hands and the tops of the feet, modify with Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) instead
EXHALE Adho Mukha Svanasna (Downward Facing Dog Pose)press the heels towards the mat and shrug the shoulders away from the ears
INHALE Look forward
EXHALE Bring the feet to the top of the mat
INHALE Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
EXHALE Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
INHALE Utkatasana (Chair Pose), weight in the heels, arms high over head, palms face inward
AND REPEAT SEQUENCE

Mix and Match Your Salutations
Wherever your body is needing particular attention, you can add postures to the flow of your Sun Salutation to address the need. The above sequences are solid examples that will warm up every major muscle group in your body. You can play around with the sequence by adding or removing postures in order to work a particular area. Perhaps you want to work to open your hips in preparation for Svarga Dvidasana (Bird of Paradise Pose) later on in your practice. You can prepare for this by adding a Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose) and an Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose).

Experiment with your Sun Salutations and see your practice energized through your breath and flowing asanas.

Namasté, my friends!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Deborah Mauldin. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Deborah Mauldin. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Terri Johansen for details.

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