Yoga reaches back at least 5000 years and gives you the power of health in your hands. Don’t feel intimidated by images of people standing on one pinkie finger while inverted with legs twisted. Sure, it’s pretty cool, but it isn’t yoga. Yoga emphatically means to unite…to unite with the spirit, a higher power, the divine, whatever you may call it. It promotes oneness, unity, love, even joy. All of that only happens when we actually feel good in our bodies and minds.
So let’s do that. Yoga tells us morning is the best time to move the body. It’s been asleep all night, mostly still, everything in your body has rested and now it wants to move. Sun salutations are one of the premiere ways to get going in the morning.
It can be done slowly, fast, just one, or up to 108. You cannot go wrong. This series of movements allows every major muscle in your body to move, stretch and strengthen.
You can chant while doing it, you can listen to music while doing it, or you can quietly meditate while doing it. It just doesn’t matter. Face east if you can, it is a sun salutation after all, and the sun does come up in the east. So, embrace the most basic series of asanas yoga has to offer. You need not be tying yourself in knots to achieve bliss. Bliss is in the action of taking care of yourself and knowing that you will be better for it. No handstands needed, no flying off with arm balances, just yourself facing east and soaking in the life force energy the sun provides us.
Here are the detailed instructions:
1. Start in mountain pose. Begin on your yoga mat in standing, rooting all four corners of your feet to the ground, stand tall, roll your shoulders back, and maintain awareness of your breath.
2. Bring your hands together at your heart in Anjali mudra. The thumbs are pressed lightly against the sternum, and each hand is equally pressing against the other with fingers spread wide.
3. Next, inhale and enter the raised arms pose (also known as upward salute pose) by lifting your arms overhead, with your palms facing each other.
4. Exhale as you lower your arms down, fold your upper body over your legs (bending your legs if necessary), and feel the stretch in the hamstrings and lower back.
5. Inhale into a halfway lift with a flat back and fingertips on the floor or the shins.
6. Exhale and bring the left foot back into a low lunge to broaden the chest and open up the hips.
7. Inhale and come into a plank pose (also known as four-limbed staff pose) by bringing your right foot back to meet the left with both of your palms shoulder-width apart to support your weight.
8.Lower yourself in salute to the sun. Both hands, both knees, both feet, the chin and chest touch the ground. The hips are slightly raised.
9. Rise into cobra pose. Inhale and press the feet, legs, and hips into the mat and lift the chest and chin off the mat, coming into a slight backbend. While in cobra pose, place little to no weight on your hands, and use the spine muscles to lift your chest.
10. Exhale and push yourself into downward-facing dog. Bring your hips up and back and allow your head to hang heavy between the hands.
11. Inhale and bring the left foot back into a low lunge.
12. Exhale and step the right foot back to meet the left and come into a standing forward bend.
13. Inhale to half-way lift and exhale to fold.
14. Inhale, then root your feet on the mat to rise, bringing the hands back over the head.
15. Exhale and bring the hands to the heart in prayer pose.
16. Repeat the series with the other foot for one complete sequence. Repeat as many times as you need!