Say hello to sun salutations!
Let’s face it, people, waking up is hard! And despite our greatest efforts, some of us just weren’t born to be morning people. Sigh.
Thankfully, we don’t have to accept defeat any longer. There is something we can do in order to boost our energy on those groggy Monday mornings — and no, it doesn’t involve five shots of espresso. Actually, all it requires is about five minutes and a few chaturangas!
Introducing (drum roll, please)... sun salutations!
Sun salutations are invigorating yoga sequences that link together poses and leave the body and mind feeling refreshed, revived and ready to take on the day! These series are performed in one continuous flow, along with deep breathing in and out through the nose, which helps the mind focus and the body relax. Sun salutations encourage prana (energy) to flow more freely throughout the body, while also strengthening, toning and promoting flexibility.
There are many different variations of sun salutations, but below is a basic sequence that you can bust out just about anytime and anywhere (within reason, of course)! Once you get comfortable with this routine, put your own spin on it by adding in your favorite poses — warrior 1, warrior 2, triangle, side plank, etc. — just make sure to keep going and keep flowing!
Bring your hands to your heart
Starting out standing in mountain pose with your hands at your heart in prayer position. Take a deep breath in, inhaling through the nose, and as you exhale, extend your arms and gaze straight up to the sky, slightly bending backward if you wish.
Swan-dive it forward
From here, open your arms and swan-dive your chest forward, making sure to keep your back as flat as possible until your hands reach the floor (or ankles/shins if more comfortable) and your chest comes in towards your thighs in a standing forward fold.
Lift it up
Keeping your fingertips on the ground (or ankles/shins), lift your chin and chest and gaze forward, then curl your chin back toward your chest, coming again into forward fold.
Find your downward dog
Placing both hands flat on the floor (knees bent if need be), walk or jump your feet to the back of your mat, coming into downward dog position.
From here, raise your right foot up to the sky in downward dog split, bend your knee and swing your leg through to the front of the mat.
Raise it up
Once balanced, raise both hands up to the sky in a high lunge position (you may choose to keep your hands on the floor during high lunge if raising them is too strenuous).
Plank it out
Take a few deep breaths here and then lower your arms back down to the floor. Step your right foot back to meet your left in plank or high push-up position.
Lower down to the ground
Slowly lower your body down to the ground through chaturanga (knees, chest, chin).
Raise your chest
Pressing your palms into the ground alongside your chest, gently roll your shoulder blades back and away from your ears, raising your chest off the ground. Keep your elbows slightly bent and by your sides, coming into a low, medium or high cobra.
You can also choose to press through your hands and tops of your feet, lifting your knees and thighs off the ground, coming into upward-facing dog.
Bring your feet to your hands
From cobra or up-dog, curl your toes under and push your body up and back into downward dog.
Looking between your hands, bend your knees and walk or jump your feet to meet your hands at the top of your mat, finding yourself again in standing forward fold.
Roll it up
Slowly and gently begin to roll up your spine, one vertebrae at a time, until your head is the last thing to come up. Roll your shoulders back while you reach your arms up to the sky, bringing your hands to a prayer position overhead and then lowering them back down to your heart.
Repeat the sequence using the opposite leg. Once you've done both sides, that completes one round.
For optimum sun salutation benefits, always remember to repeat the sequence on both legs and complete at least four to eight rounds.
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