Sun Salutations in 16 Easy Steps

2011 is still young, and with new years come new beginnings. Start beginning your days with a variation of the ancient yoga exercise “Sun Salutations.” Traditionally, it is performed in the morning, and it gets your day off to an invigorating start! (Be careful, and listen to your body; never strain yourself to the point of injury.)

1. Stand up very straight with your feet together.

2. Inhale and sweep your arms out from your sides in an arc until they are stretched above your head. Bring your palms together at the top in Namaste.

3. With your hands still pressed together, exhale and bring them down the center of your body until they are in front of your heart.

4. Repeat steps 2-3 for a few breaths—at least 3.

5. Exhale and bend at the waist, stretching your arms to your toes.

6. Inhale and raise your torso until your back makes a “tabletop” (parallel with the floor). Press your hands against your knees, and look ahead.

7. Exhale and lower your torso again, reaching for the floor with your fingers.

8. Inhale, press your palms on the floor, shoulder-distance apart, and step or hop your feet backwards until you are creating an upside down “V” with your body. Keep your legs and arms straight, lifting your hips (the point of the “V”) towards the ceiling. Your feet should be hip-distance apart, and try to sink your heels to the floor for a great stretch in your Achilles tendons. Lengthen your neck, and keep your ears by your elbows. This is “downward facing dog” pose. Stay here for a few breaths.

9. Exhale and move into a “plank” position, which is basically as if you were about to do a pushup.

Downward Facing Dog

10. In “plank,” lower your chest towards the floor; then bend at the waist, curving your torso up. Raise your torso as far as you can, curving your lower spine, looking straight ahead. Press your palms into the floor, and straighten your arms as far as it is comfortable. Your legs will remain lying straight, trailing on the floor behind you. This is called “cobra” pose because of its resemblance to a cobra about to strike.

11. Inhale and go back into “downward facing dog” pose. Again, remain here for a few breaths.

12. Repeat steps 6-9 for as many cycles as you like—at least 3 or 4.

13. To finish, step or hop your feet between your hands while in “downward facing dog.”

Please be careful. He who does “downward facing dog” to excess might rise up with fleas. Just saying.

14. Slowly stand up, rolling your spine upwards vertebrae by vertebrae until finally you gently straighten your neck and head.

15. Inhale and sweep your arms upwards in an arc from your sides. Bring your palms together above your head.

16. Exhale and bring your pressed palms down the center of your body, finishing with your hands in Namaste above your heart.

Tip: Pay attention to the breathing! This is very important for all yoga—the coordination of breath and movement.

*Jyoti Jennings is a Certified Yoga Instructor

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