August 31, 2011

Bring your Sun Salutation to Life again. ~ Meryl Davids Landau

Photo: Barry Silver

For years I hated doing Surya Namaskara, the Sun Salutation.

I know, I know… this “mother of all yoga poses” is supposed to warm the body, strengthen muscles and detoxify organs. And, of course, call the power of the sun to fire you up inside.

But I was impatient to get to my more favored poses. I disliked the way this 12-step series sucked up so much class time. Not to mention that it strained my wrists and left me breathless.

Then one day it dawned on me.

Photo: Jhayne

Since appreciating whatever you’re doing is a key spiritual teaching, I needed to change my perspectiveon this pose.

Hoping to discover an interesting variation, or maybe a discussion that would reinvigorate this vinyasa, I searched “sun salutation” on my computer. Several websites suggested adding visualizations to each stage of the series. Although their imagery didn’t appeal to me, I thought it was a great idea, so I developed my own.

Since then I have adored this flowing series, and I get so much out of performing it.

When I had Lorna, the main character in my new novel, take up yoga, it seemed only fitting that I should have her discover my beloved visualization. On her yoga teacher’s recommendation, Lorna uses these mental pictures, both serious and fun, to breathe life into her sun salutation.

Try it to deepen your vinyasa, too:

  1. Palms together at your chest. Connect with the loving energy inside your heart.
  2. Stretch your arms out, up and back. Envision the warmth of the sun and indeed the entire universe dancing on your face.
  3. Fold forward toward the ground. Expand your appreciation to all of Mother Earth.
  4. Left leg back, left knee on the floor, back arched, arms stretch up. Remember that even when you feel low, you are always connected to your higher self.
  5. Both legs back, arms straight in a plank. Get in touch with the inner strength that never leaves you.
  6. Lower your knees, chest and chin to the ground. Remember to be humble around other people, since they too are extensions of the universal energy.
  7. Pelvis to the floor, chest rises up in a cobra pose.Extend your sense of oneness to all the animals in the world.

    Photo: Diamond Mountain

  8. Upside-down V of “Downward Dog.” I can’t remember what my teacher said about this one, so I just give the universe a quick, friendly wave of my butt.
  9.  Left leg forward, right knee on the floor, back arched, arms stretch up. Start to rise up to your full potential.
  10. Fold forward as in position three. Remember to pause to gather your inner resources before taking action.
  11. Stretch up and back. Open yourself to the full universal energy once more.
  12. Palms together at your chest. Realize that this higher power always resides within you.


Meryl Davids Landau is the author of the new spiritual women’s novel, Downward Dog, Upward Fog. The novel was recently recommended as a “great summer read” by the Yoga Journal and Everything Yoga blogs, and Science of Mind’s national newsletter says: “Lorna’s struggles are sure to resonate with anyone on the path of conscious awareness.” Excerpts are available here.


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