Sun Salutation A (Surya Namaskar A) Workshop

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Surya Namaskar Throughout our yogi lifetimes we will hopefully flow through 100s if not 1000s of Sun Salutations. The sequence has countless benefits helping us connect our movement to our breath while building strength, warmth, and awareness throughout the entire body. However, with improper alignment or lack of muscle engagement, we could harm ourselves. Below is a

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workshop for a basic Sun Salutation to help you feel each pose and make sure you are receiving all of the benefits. Let’s get started: Take a strap and loop it just above the elbows distanced so the forearms graze the ribcage. Place a block vertically between the upper thighs and squeeze it. These props will stay here throughout the salutation. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) This pose may appear simple but when taken with full body awareness it’s amazing. To really experience the alignment place a block vertically between the upper thighs and SQUEEZE. The feet will be about hips distance in Hatha style. Ground down through all four corners of the feet, find this by rocking around. Feel the heels begin to draw together and the thighs to spiral outward. This should make the tailbone tuck slightly and the lower abdomen to engage. The chest is open, shoulder blades rolled down the back and the hands are by your sides with palms facing forward receiving energy. You should feel steady, active, and balanced while imagining the suns warmth and energy pouring over you. saluteUrdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands) Inhale the arms overhead, touching the palms together and gazing at the thumbs. The rest of the body keeps the engagement from Tadasana! Uttanasana (Intense Stretch/Fold) Exhale and hinge at the hips finding a forward fold. Keep the spine as straight as possible and bend the knees if needed. Palms may reach the floor or to the shins. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Intense Stretch/Fold) Inhale raising the torso to straighten the spine forward. Shine your heart forward and gaze out in front of you. The finger tips may graze the floor or palms on the shins. Remember to stay rooted in the feet and some may have a slight backbend in the lower, lumbar spine. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)Chaturanga w Strap Time for some fun… exhale back into the forward fold planting the palms onto the mat just outside the feet. Try to jump back to Plank Pose (without locking out the elbows!) while squeezing the block between the thighs. Push the heels back, rock slightly forward, and lower down with the elbows at 90 degrees. You should land with the strap just under the chest and it

will take all of the weight so you can literally hang here. Truly observe this alignment and feeling. Keep those heels pushing away, abdomen engaged, forearms grazing the rib cage, elbows at 90 degrees, shoulder blades down the back, squeezing that block between the thighs. With time you want to work towards jumping directly into this position. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) Inhale and straighten out the arms opening the chest and gazing upward. Simultaneously push back through the heels to roll over the toes and come onto the tops of your feet. The legs and torso are off of the floor and squeezing the block keeps the thighs super engaged. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) Exhale while using the abdominal muscles to lift the body back into a plank position, tuck the toes under, and pull the hips up and back. It’s very important to not rush between Upward and Downward Facing Dogs. This transition should take a full exhale and coming back into plank before pushing back protects the lumbar spine. The block will make your feet be at hips distance and the strap will keep your arms at shoulder distance. Ground the hands where the thumb, pointer and pinky meet the palm. The palm should be slightly raised with a suction sensation and finger tips gripping the mat. The heels will be melting toward the mat. Relax the neck and gaze between the knees. Stay here for 3-5 breaths. Transition Feet to Hands Exhale gazing forward between the thumbs and bending the knees. Squeeze your block, engage the abdominals, and jump the feet between the hands. Yoga_StandingForwardFold_01_300x350Ardha Uttanasana (Half Intense Stretch/Fold)

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Inhale refinding a straight spine with chest and gaze shining forward. Uttanasana (Intense Stretch/Fold) Exhale into a forward fold relaxing the spine. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Hands) Inhale

hinging at the hips upward with the arms outstretched, palms facing each other, spine straight and gaze up to the thumbs. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) Exhale returning the palms to your sides, Tadasana, and appreciate the warmth and strength created from saluting the sun. Flow through the Sun Salutation a few times with the props and then remove them seeing if you can keep the same engagement and awareness- your body will thank you:)  

Shared by: Michelle Hurley
Michelle is a world wanderer using yoga to keep herself grounded and present. As a 200 hour RYT and epitome of the pitta dosha, she shares her transformational energy by guiding students through mindful vinyasa ebb and flow with bursts of fiery movements. Currently living and teaching on the coast of Ecuador much inspiration draws from her love of the ocean, sunshine, and of course Montanita surfing.