The sun salutation is a joyful calisthenic in a vinyasa flow class. It involves two parts: Sun Bowing and Solar Powering.
Sun bowing involves sweeping the arms to the sides and overhead and then swan diving into a forward fold. This is a way of honoring the warmth and light we receive each day.
Once in forward fold there is a teaser, known as monkey pose. It involves coming halfway up, with the torso parallel to the floor. The hands either rest on the shins or fingertips touch the floor.
From monkey, then return to forward fold.
Just like the phoenix rises from the ashes, we then ascend from forward fold and return to a standing position. The arms reach out laterally, then upward and overhead.
Hands then settle in a prayer mudra at heart center.
In the meantime, here are some ergonomic pointers, to help you beam while Sun Bowing:
Thinking about Back, Knees and Hips: Think about maintaining a straight back, a microbend in the knees and rotating from the hips while moving into or out of forward fold. Consider even passing through chair pose on the way up and down and this will enable better alignment.
Aligning the Feet: Consider keeping the the feet hip distance apart. This puts the body into an aligned athletic position, similar to a giant slalom skier. It also keeps the knees from hyperextending and prevents loading into the L4-L5 area.
Igniting the Posterior Chain: Rotating from the hips also helps to ignite muscles of the posterior chain. The PC includes two of the most powerful muscles in the body – the gluteals and the hamstrings. Having those muscles share in the descent or ascent from forward fold helps create a dynamic back body and takes load off the low back.
Using Yoga Off the Mat: Use the mechanics from sun bowing when picking objects up from the floor or even when unloading the dishwasher. Bring the object close to you, then pivot at the hips as you bend down of stand up. These are the basic lifting mechanics used in workplace safety.
Next week I will write about the second part of the sun salutation – Solar Powering. It is where the core muscles of the solar plexus ignite in downdog, planks, descending planks and cobra. It is the calorie burner used to create heat.
Until next week, peace and yoga,