The series of yoga poses known as sun salutations is the backbone of most traditional yoga practices. It’s also a great sequence to start your day (hence the name). The movements are simple, effective and can be done in just a few minutes right in your bedroom. No stretchy pants necessary.
“A morning yoga routine, no matter how big or small, reduces stress and anxiety. Asana (physical yoga) releases endorphins, improving mood, alertness and memory function,” says Nicky Ruiz, Bellevue Club yoga teacher. “The yoga practice is a means of attaining mindfulness. Awareness of your body, your posture, the way you breath, how you move, the moment, and also how you think. The more likely you are to attain these connections, the more likely you are to maintain them throughout your day.”
Ruiz emphasizes that your practice doesn’t have to be elaborate to influence your mind and life. “Less can be more. It’s far more important to be consistent than to make each yoga practice a big thing or obligation. Even simply taking a few minutes to sit upright and remove busy distractions by closing your eyes, taking slow deep rhythmic breaths and setting an intention can be a yoga practice. Yoga is meant to offer relief from the pressures of everyday life, not serve as another task on the to-do list.”
Ruiz demonstrates the movements that make up basic sun salutations.
She suggests repeating the series five to ten times.
Start in an equal stance, with your weight evenly distributed in both feet. Concentrate on rhythmic breathing.
2. Urdhva Hastasana
Inhale. Reach your arms up. Then lightly lift the belly up and in (a core engagement known as Uddiyana Bandha).
Exhale. Fold forward, bending the knees as needed.
4. Ardha Uttanasana
Inhale, and lift halfway. Lengthen entire spine. Stay strong in the legs.
Exhale. Step your feet back to plank. Shift body forward while inhaling again.
6. Chaturanga Dandasana
Exhale while slowly bending the elbows to lower the body, either all the way to the floor and or just slightly.
7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana / Bhujangasana
Inhale, lift the chest in upward-facing dog or cobra.
8. Adho Mukha Svanasana
Exhale. Engage bandhas (or core). Push back into downward-facing dog by reaching your hips back and up. Root down through the heels. Remain here for five to 10 deep breaths.
Step forward. Inhale and lift up halfway. Keep your knees unlocked and draw the shoulder blades together. Exhale. Fold forward. Bend your knees as needed. Remain here five to 10 deep breaths.
10. Urdhva Hastasana
Inhale and sweep the arms overhead while keeping a bend in the knees and the legs strong to help lift the body.
(back to) 1. Samastitihi
Exhale and bring the hands together at the heart center. Feel the equal stance again. Check in with your breathing. From here, you are in the perfect place to start the series again.