Salute To The Sun

Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) is an ancient technique to honour the sun, without which there would be no life! The breath synchronises with movement through a set sequence to generate heat in the body, improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles. Sun salutations can be an energising and grounding start to the day, and a way to cultivate gratitude for the life-giving qualities of the sun. There are many mental and physical benefits to practicing sun salutations.

Even if you don’t have time to fit in more Yoga into an everyday self-practice, simply doing a few rounds of sun salutation each morning can bring inner calm, boost your energy and build up strength. Conscious movement through sun salutations aligns the mind, body and soul to bring an overall sense of balance. It’s a great way to warm up before a longer asana practice. Next time that you practice sun salutations, invite yourself to become increasingly aware of each and every movement.

Notice exactly how the breath initiates this movement and guides the body through the space around you. You can then invite this cultivated awareness into the rest of your asana practice, savouring each and every moment of complete presence. Following on from warming up with sun salutations, here are some asanas to cultivate awareness and invite in the energising qualities of the sun:

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Utkata Konasana (Goddess)

Legs wide, toes pointing out a little, sink the hips down to a squat position. The arms can be bent by the side palms facing forwards, above the head, or in a mudra. Raise the heels for an extra challenge.

Goddess pose helps to feel into expansion across the chest, as well as strengthening and toning the calves, quads, inner thighs and core.

Utrasana (Camel)

Rest on the knees with the hips above them. The chest lifts up and the hands reach either to the lower back or the ankles for a back bend that is accessible to you.

This strengthens the back, stretchs the hip flexors, front body and thighs and can help to improve posture.

Skandasana (Side Lunge)

One knee bends and the body sinks down to that side with the other leg stretched out to the other side, chest facing forward.

This stretches the hamstrings, inner thighs, calves and ankles, as well as improving balance and strengthening the knee

Urdva Dhanurasana (Wheel)

The palms face down beneath the shoulders with the fingers pointing in the direction of the feet. The back arcs as the hips and belly lift up towards the sky.

The variation pictured shows the legs long. This strengthens the wrists, arms, legs and back. It also lengthens the spine and strengthens the abs.

Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)

For a variation of low lunge, allow the back knee to bend so the foot can rest in the elbow crease of the back arm. Take a mudra with the front hand reaching forwards, thumb to index finger.

This stretches the thighs and groins and opens the chest. The mudra provides focus.