A sun salutation is a sequence of yoga poses to calm, energize and align. Each posture works to integrate your body and mind, stretch your major muscle groups, align your spine and boost your circulation. The cycle is 12 steps, performed fluidly and synced to the breath. Throughout your practice, stay mindful of connecting with your body by maintaining an awareness of feelings and sensations. Only go as far as feels right for you, you don't have to push yourself - just take it slow and easy. Breathe deeply - inhaling to extend and open and exhaling to bend or fold - and check-in consistently to make sure you are maintaining length in your spine. If you find yourself getting distracted by your endless to-do or a conversation you had last week, come back to the breath. With continued practice, this is a great way to align your body and mind. While there are many variations of this sequence depending on preference or lineage, here’s one to try.
Stand tall with your feet parallel and together. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed and lengthen your spine upward. Bring your hands together in front of your chest, lifting your ribcage and looking straight ahead.
Inhale and slowly extend your arms up over your head. Lift and open your chest and lengthen your spine. Look upward and keep your breathing even and easy.
On the exhale, bend your body forward, making sure to keep your spine straight. Take it slowly and avoid collapsing your chest or rounding your upper back. Keep a slight bend in your knees and your shoulder relaxed.
On the next inhale, bring your left leg back, drop your back knee to the ground and bend your front leg - knee over ankle. Keep your front foot flat on the ground and your spine straight, gently lengthening through your neck and head.
On the exhale, bring your right leg back so that your legs are hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart. Raise your butt and hips, pressing down through all your fingers and stretching your heels toward the floor. Keep your head and neck relaxed and your shoulders away from your ears.
On the inhale, lift your chest and press down through your hands. Keep your elbows close to your body and extend your spine, opening your heart. Again, check to make sure your shoulders are relaxed and down away from the ears. Widen and lengthen through your upper back and don’t lift your body from the head or neck.
Exhaling, step your right leg forward and bend your body, making sure to keep your spine straight. Take this at your own pace- if you can place your hands on the ground, go ahead; if not, you can grab behind your ankles or knees. Regardless of where you are, make sure your neck is soft and your chest isn’t collapsed.
Exhale and lower your arms, bringing your hands together in front of your heart. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, feeling grounded through your body with feet hip-width apart. Keep your chest open and expanded as you take a few moments to breathe and appreciate the feeling.
If it feels right to keep going, start another cycle. Move straight into posture 2 on an inhale and repeating the flow as many times as you feel comfortable. Try starting out with 3-5 cycles and work your way up or down depending on how you’re feeling. At the very end after posture 12, take a moment to set an intention or give gratitude before slowly opening your eyes and moving on with your day.
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