As we ease out of a very rainy season, we are all grateful to feel some sunshine again! What better way to celebrate than to work some sun salutations into your practice?
Traditionally, sun salutations were practiced during the sunrise to salute the light, both from the sun and internally. The movement was our way to stoke our internal fire, building heat and “burning off impurities.” Sun salutations were mostly practiced with your back facing the sun, so that the sun could warm your spine and allow for an easier transition into longer held yoga poses, or Asanas. Today it’s hard to find a yoga class that doesn’t incorporate some or all of the sun salutes into a sequence, regardless of the time of day. Many classes start with salutes as a way of warming up the muscles, and encouraging us to create balance, focus, and a quiet mind in order to become the best version of ourselves.
There are many variations of a Sun salutation, but the main use physically is to energize the body. It is best practiced in the morning and/or at the beginning of a yoga practice. Try to remember the importance of managing the breath as you work through your salutes. The breath with movement is a key element of Yoga, and elevates your practice to more than just a series of stretches and bends. With each step, focus on how many breaths it takes to move from one pose to the next. A traditional Vinyasa flow links one breath for each move, which is a perfect place to start. The fewer the breaths, the faster you will move from pose to pose, and the more active the flow will be.
If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up to start your day or boost your energy post-lunch, try this simple variation of Sun Salutations with a series of lunges.