Here’s my latest article for the Stanly News and Press:
Surya is the Sanskrit word for “sun” and Namaskar means “to honor” or “to adore”. So Surya Namaskar, or Sun Salutation, is a practice in Yoga that allows us to greet the sky’s sun each day, which is our source of life here on earth. It is also meant to greet and honor our own light, which is our source of truth here on earth. This flow begins and ends with the hands resting at heart-center as a reminder that our own light lives in our hearts.
This sequence can be practiced alone each day as a way to increase your flexibility, strength, calm and focus, or it can be done as a nice warm up for a longer Yoga practice. Either way, if you make Sun Salutations a part of your regular routine, the energy in your body will flow more freely and you will feel more open and relaxed each day.
Start this practice slowly and if you’d like, you can gradually speed it up. Always connect your breath with the movements and try to focus the mind on an intention, or a positive thought.
Begin standing tall with your palms resting together in front of your heart with your feet together or hips-width apart. As you inhale, sweep your arms up over your head, bringing your hands back together at the top and gazing up toward your thumbs. As you exhale, open your arms to the sides as if you are swan diving off of a diving board with a flat, long back, into a standing forward fold with your gaze toward your legs.
From your forward fold, begin to gaze ahead of you on the floor and inhale as you begin to stretch your spine out long and flat. You can either place your fingertips on the floor in front of your or on your shins to get the back flat enough to rest a bowl of soup on it.
Fold back down into a forward fold and on this long exhale, and bend your knees and place the palms of your hands on the floor, step one foot and then the other to the back of your mat in a plank pose and lower yourself down to your stomach. If you cannot get all of this in one exhale, then go slower and take as many breaths as you need. If you cannot lower, or Chaturanga, from plank on the hands and toes, you can drop softly to your knees before you come to your belly.
From the belly, take an inhale and press into your hands, lifting your shoulders and chest from the floor in Cobra, or Bhujangasana. Then exhale as you press up to your hands and knees or just roll onto the balls of your feet so you can lift the hips and rest on your hands and feet on the floor in Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana.
From Down Dog, rise on the balls of your feet, bend your knees and gaze toward your feet on your inhale. Exhale as your bring one foot and then the other between your hands at the top of your mat. As you inhale, come back to the flat back position with the fingertips on the floor or the shins and exhale back to a forward fold. Reverse your swan dive as you inhale and open the arms out to the sides and bring yourself up to standing with your hands together over your head, gazing toward the thumbs. Finish with an exhale as you rest the hands together again in front of the heart.
Repeat this flow three to five times at first and eventually work up into ten to fifteen times a day. Notice and enjoy how you feel afterward.