In most yoga classes the first thing we learn is a sequence of 12 poses which comprise a Sun Salutation. For Ashtangis this forms the basis for the whole practice and is known as a ‘vinyasa’ as it is used like a thread to connect each posture in the sequence.
Traditionally, this series of poses were once used to give thanks for the light and heat from the sun. Used at the winter solstice as a practice of 108 rounds of Sun Salutations, yogis would welcome the return of the sun as the days begin to lengthen. While the 108 Salutations at the summer solstice would celebrate the peak of summer with the longest day.
As an introduction to yoga, you can’t beat some Sun Salutations. The ultimate in grounding yoga sequences this versatile series of movements works so well for beginners and the more advanced yogi.
Stepping onto your mat each day and running through a few rounds will improve blood circulation giving you that nice yoga glow, and will help you to reconnect to the earth through feeling your foundations in the grounding poses! You can also expect to improve your flexibility and your posture, while your energy levels will get a much-needed boost. It’s easy to see why this sequence of poses are a great way to begin your yoga practice or even just to help you wake up in the morning.
Here’s some Top Tips to help you get the most out of your Sun Salutations:
- Bend the knees generously when you come to the forward fold, and in your downward dog if you need to
- Learn the poses and then add in the breath – until then just breathe slowly and deeply as you move through the poses
- Repeat the poses as often as you need to – inhale to lift the arms, exhale to fold forwards, inhale back to standing and exhale hands to heart. Then repeat – this will give your spine a nice stretch and help you tune into your breath.
- Back issues? Then take it to sphinx pose with forearms on the floor instead of coming into cobra or upward facing dog. These poses are always something to work towards (if you want) or to avoid if they’re not part of your practice.
- Extra challenge – give it a go with your eyes closed (only for those very familiar with the sequence)