Sun Series Sequence

We have all gotten quite familiar with this wonderful sequence of postures. We use the sun salutations for many different reasons. It is anatomically a well-rounded sequence. We are opening the shoulders, the hips, the fronts and backs of the legs- it really is quite a fantastically complete warming of the major muscles of the body. Sequenced generally at the beginning of a class, it helps us to connect the breath and the movement as we delve into the asana practice.

When translated from sanskrit into English, we start to uncover more of the metaphysical intention associated with the sun salutes. The Sanskrit word Surya means sun. The word namaskar stems from namas, which means “to bow to” or “to have gratitude towards (The familiar phrase we use to close our yoga classes, namaste—te means “you”—also comes from this root.) Each Sun Salutation begins and ends with the joined-hands mudra (gesture) touched to the heart. This placement is no accident.

The ancient yogis taught that each of us replicates the world at large, embodying “rivers, seas, mountains, fields…stars and planets…the sun and moon”. The outer sun, they asserted, is in reality a token of our own “inner sun,” which corresponds to our subtle, or spiritual, heart. When we practice the sun salutations we are bowing to the outer sun, greeting the day, but we are also invited to bow to the inner light within ourselves.

Take some time for yourself every day to be grateful for what you have. The sun salutes are a wonderful way to awaken the fascia of the body, warm the muscles, charge the breath, and clear the mind. Go head and enjoy a few rounds right now 🙂

Urdva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Inhale: Sweep arms into the overhead plane, while keeping low ribs softening in and core engaged to protect low back.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhale: Soften the knees and from the hips, hinge forwards.

Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)

Inhale: Lengthen halfway up either hands to chins, or fingertips to floor.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Exhale: Plant palms firmly to mat and step back to an inverted V, feet hips distance apart. Float hips skyward, flaring sitting bones up.

Pahlakasana (Plank Pose)

Inhale: Shift forward stacking shoulders over wrists, heels over toes.  Drop tailbone back towards heels to hug naval energetically back towards spine.

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Exhale: Shift to tips of toes. Lower halfway, hug shoulder heads back, stack elbows over wrists.

*Modification, lower knees, keep hugging elbows in, lower chest, lift the knees release the quads, lengthen tops of feet to mat.

Urdha Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) or Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Inhale: Release tops of feet to mat, one set at a time, push to palms and straighten the arms. Wrap triceps back to broaden across chest.

*Modification, keeping elbows bent and legs and pelvis rooted to the earth, lengthen chest forward and up.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward Facing Dog)

Exhale: Gaze down, tuck toes under, one set at a time, push to palms (focus on inner seam of hands) lift the hips.

*Modification, lower down, press through hands and knees back to Downward facing dog.

*Transition at the base of the third exhale, bend knees, look beyond hands, and walk, step or lightly hop to top of mat.

Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)

Inhale: Lengthen halfway up either hands to chins, or fingertips to floor.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhale: Soften the knees and from the hips, hinge forwards.

Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Inhale: Sweep arms into the overhead plane, while keeping low ribs softening in and core engaged to protect low back.