It’s that time of year when our fair-weather friends abandon their bikes and consign themselves to a few months of cramped buses, tubes and trains. So, for those of you that are braving precarious potholes and peeling freezing fingers off your handlebars, I take my hat (or helmet) off to you – and bring you a yoga ‘sun salutation’ sequence to to keep you warm, flexible and full of energy.
Comprising of 12 flowing postures, Surya Namaskara (the sanskrit term for Sun Saluation) is performed in a single, graceful flow, whereby each movement is coordinated with the breath. It’s traditionally practiced at the beginning of each yoga session, but it can also be a fantastic practice in itself if you haven’t got time for anything else. A single round consists of two complete sequences: one for the right side of the body and the other for the left. Try and work up to five repetitions on each side – you’ll really notice the difference. Different styles of yoga perform the Sun Salutation with their own variations. However, the flow presented below covers core steps used in most styles.
Begin by standing nice and tall in ‘tadasana’. Feet are hip-width apart, spine is lengthened and arms alongside you or hands in prayer position at your heart. Take a few deep breaths here.
Inhale, raising your arms above your head and bring you palms to touch one another. Gaze up at your thumbs and gently arch your back, as feels safe.
Exhale as you bend over, folding forward at your hips. Bring your hands to the floor alongside your feet, bending your knees if necessary.
Inhale and step your right leg back into a lunge, closely followed by your left leg.
Retain the breath as you hold plank.
Lower yourself to the floor on an exhale – first lowering your knees to the floor, followed by your chin keeping your elbows pinned by your ribs and then scooping forward so your chest comes to the floor.
Inhale up to cobra, a light back bend. Use your arms to lift your torso and only bend back as far as feels comfortable and safe. Keep elbows bent.
Exhale, lifting from the hips and push yourself back into downward dog. Push away with your hands and feet – as if trying to rip the mat in two. Raise your tailbone up to the ceiling.
Inhale and step the right foot forward into a lunge.
Exhale, bringing the left foot to join the right and fold forward into a forward bend.
Inhale raising up slowly, keeping the arms extended.
Exhale, and in a slow, sweeping motion, lower your arms to the sides. End by bringing your hands up into prayer position. Repeat the sequence, stepping with the left leg.
If you’re keen to learn more about yoga and develop your practice, why not sign up for a 6 weeks beginners course? The course will explore the key postures, principles and philosophies of hatha yoga in a small and friendly group. Courses start in the new year in various locations around Shoreditch and Islington. Find out more and book your place here: http://stretchingthecity.com/Beginners_Courses.html