Sun Salutations otherwise known as Surya Namaskara in Sanskrit are key components in Ashtanga Yoga. Surya means the sun and Namaskara is to greet or honour, so to greet the sun.
What I love about Sun Salutations?
· It helps to connect movement to breath.
· Warms up the body.
· Stretches the spine.
· Engages the core.
· Improves flexibility & posture.
· Improves strength in the upper body and legs.
· Is the foundation movement for Ashtanga or Yoga practice.
Recommendations when practising sun salutations?
· Move slowly focusing on connecting the breath to the movement.
· Perfect your technique – take your time to check in that your alignment is correct in particular for downwards dog – spine is straight with hips up to the ceiling and shoulders away from the ears. If you struggle with Downwards Dog you can always do a childs pose here instead.
· Listen to your body – pick the variations that work best for you and hold a pose for longer if it feels tight.
· Be mindful of your hands making sure the hands are firm on the floor with no gaps under the fingers or palm of the hand. This will help to portect your wrists and your shoulders.
· Keep the shoulders away from the ears when moving through the sun salutation so that you are strengthening the rhomboids and lower Trapezius and the muscles that help to stabilise the scapula/shoulder blades.
Sun Salutation A:
· Start Position – Mountain Pose – standing tall looking straight ahead.
· Inhale – Lift arms to the ceiling.
· Exhale – Bend forwards touching the toes – Forward fold.
· Inhale – Half lift so keep the legs straight and half lift so that the spine is straight & look ahead, place hands on your legs– Half Lift.
· Exhale – Step back into Plank.
· Inhale – Hold the Plank Position.
· Exhale – lower knees to the floor and keeping elbows in by the side lower chest down slowly.
· Inhale – lift the head and shoulders up off the floor looking straight ahead – Up Dog.
· Exhale – Press into the palms of the hands and lift the hips up into the air – Downwards Dog.
· Hold – Downwards Dog for 5 deep breaths.
· Exhale – walk or step the feet forwards so feet by the hands.
· Inhale – half lift position.
· Exhale – forward fold again allowing head and shoulders/arms to hang.
· Inhale – lift back up into standing/Mountain pose.
Practice the Sun Salutation three times. Personally I use variations of the Sun salutation for warms ups before gym workouts and as warm ups before walks/runs. I like to do the first one slowly checking in with my alignment and then building speed for the last 2 repetitions. If I am feeling particularly tight I might repeat it 5 times in total. Some people enjoy doing it in the morning time to waken up and stretch through their body. Do what feels right for you.
The best project you will ever work on is YOU! I would highly recommend practising sun salutations daily to keep your body moving, to keep it strong and flexible and to take time out of your day for you. “The very heart of yoga practice is abhyasa – steady effort in the direction you want to go” – Sally Kempton.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your technique or ways to modify the movements to suit you, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us here at Head 2 Toe Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Clinic. With her background knowledge in Physiotherapy, as well as training in Pilates and Yoga, Tricia has lots of great ideas and experience to modify the sun salutations to meet your individual requirements. Call us on 021-2011159 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with Tricia!