Lifestyle and Health

Surya Namaskar A explained

yoga
Written by Lisa Nelson

If you could do one thing and one thing only, this would be it.  Just a few rounds of these and you will start to notice your body temperature rising, your heart beating faster, and your muscles starting to loosen up.  Sun Sals are the perfect compliment to any type of physical activity. Start with 3-5 rounds before you head out for the trails and notice a little more pep in your step.

How To:  (Tadasana) Start standing upright with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart, arms will be by your sides with palms facing inward.  Contract your thighs to draw your kneecaps up toward your pelvis.  Tuck your tailbone under (no ski slope bums here!) and open your chest, drawing your shoulder blades back and down.

Inhale and raise your arms up over head (Urdhva Tadasana), allow your gaze to follow your fingertips. You can bring your palms together or keep the arms shoulder width apart and palms facing inward. Relax the shoulders away from the ears.

Exhale and hinge at the hips but keep the back and legs straight (Uttanasana). Bring your hands down through the centre line of your body and reach your hands toward the ground.  Bring your torso toward your shins, but keep the back straight. You can have a slight bend in the knees if your hamstrings are tight.

Inhale and lift the torso up halfway so that it is parallel to the ground (Ardha Uttanasana), lengthen out through the crown of your head, fingertips rest gently on the shins or thighs.

Exhale and place the palms flat on the ground on either side of your feet, bend the knees as much as needed. Step your feet back one-by-one so that you come into a plank position.  Your shoulders will be over your wrists, your core is engaged so that your hips don’t sink and your heels will be actively pushing away from you.  If this is too much for you, lower the knees to the ground for modified plank.  Still on the exhale slowly lower yourself to the ground (Chaturanga Dandasana), elbows will point back behind you and keep your body in a straight line (unless modifying with knees to ground).

Inhale and lift the chest off the ground, little to no weight in the hands, shoulders reaching back and down (Baby Cobra). Contract the glutes and thighs and lift the feet off the floor for more engagement in the back. To go a little deeper you can place the palms on the ground and start to straighten the arms, but keep a slight bend in the elbows (Cobra).  To take it deeper still, use the palms to lift the pelvis and tops of the thighs off the ground, draw the chest through the arms (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). Keep the legs engaged and the tops of the feet flat on the ground if choosing either of the last two variations.

Exhale and lower back to the ground, replace the hands to the ground beneath the shoulders if you had them lifted. Tuck the toes under, push up through plank and lift your hips high into the air, coming into an upside-down “V” shape ( Adho Mukha Svanasana). Your feet should be hip distance apart, try to reach your heels toward the ground. Press down firmly through the palms and have your fingers spread as wide as possible, draw the shoulders away from the ears.  Continue to lift the hips high into the air so that you can better straighten your spine, try to straighten the legs and bring the heels toward the ground.   If you can’t do this without rounding the spine then instead bring a bend into the knees, but keep reaching the heels toward the ground.

Stay here for three rounds of inhales and exhales.

Inhale and shift your weight to your palms coming forward into plank, draw the belly button into the spine.  Step your feet one at a time in between your palms. Alternatively you can bring a bend into your knees and hop or float your feet forward between your palms. Lift the torso so that it is parallel to the ground.

Exhale and release into forward fold.   Remember to keep the back straight by reaching out through the crown of the head.  More important than having your chest to your thighs is keeping the integrity of the spine.

Inhale and engage your core to keep the back straight as you lift the torso up to standing.   Simultaneously bring the arms up over head and return them to either fingers interlaced or palms facing one another. Your gaze will follow the fingertips.

Exhale and release the arms back down to the side of your body with your palms facing in, gaze will return to straight ahead.

You can pause for a breath or two, or just head right into the next round.   Complete 3-5 rounds to warm up the body and then try out the poses in First time yoga for beginners.

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About the author

Lisa Nelson

Lisa is a globe-trotting yoga teacher who fell in love with solo travelling when she left her home country of Canada last November. She was only supposed to have been gone for three months, but her life was completely changed with her first taste of solo travel. She can currently be found in Indonesia where she is teaching yoga on a quiet island near Bali. She is planning on heading to Australia as her next destination. When she's not yogaing (it's a verb) or exploring, she can be found in a cafe updating her travel blog https://eatpraylovebylisa.wordpress.com

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