October 11, 2013

Inner Solar Power: the Art of the Sun Salutation.

And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with love like that.
It lights up the sky.

~ Rumi

I have a love/hate relationship with Sun Salutations. Surya Namaskara is probably the single most common thing taught in modern yoga classes.

Many hatha yoga lineages have their own variation of the beloved sun salute, and they vary widely.

There was a time that I got so sick of teaching Sun Salutations, so I quit for awhile. But, nowadays, most of my classes do involve at least a few rounds of them (or Moon Salutations, if we’re feeling more mellow).

Here’s how:

Stand with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Imagine roots growing down connecting you to the earth’s core.
Rise up through your bones.
Lift your crown to the sky.
Press your palms together and take this moment to set a silent intention.
Make a wish.
Dedicate your practice.


Inhale, lifting your arms and hands overhead.
Reach for the sun.
Exhale, diving forward.
Touch your legs, ankles, feet or the floor.

(It doesn’t matter where you reach.)
Bend your knees if your hamstrings are tight

Inhale, launching your right leg back into a runner’s lunge.
Gaze out toward the horizon.
Get ready for the race.
Only there’s no competition.
The goal is to let go of goals.

Breathe here, with awareness, with gratitude.

This is the first round.
Your body is still warming up.
Move your hips up and down several times.
Be gentle yet firm.
On an exhale, step your left foot back to meet the right.

Now we’re in plank pose (the top of a push-up).
The body is strong and straight, a line of energy from head to heels.
As slowly as you can, lower down to your belly.
Inhale, pressing into your palms and the tops of your pointed feet.

You are a striking cobra.
Roll your shoulders down away from your ears.
Open your heart and gaze to the sky.

With an exhale, find your way to downward dog—
lifting your pelvis up, lengthening your arms, legs and spine
It doesn’t matter if your heels won’t reach the ground
Wiggle in dog pose;
bend your knees and shimmy your hips or lift your legs.
Move however your body wants to move

Then be still.
Take four deep breaths in paired with four exhales full of ease,
Releasing tension, releasing effort, releasing worry, releasing judgement.

On your next inhale, step your right foot forward
(for the runner’s lunge on the opposite side).
Notice—with compassion, without self-judgement or self-righteousness—
if you are tighter on one side or the other.
(It doesn’t really matter.)
(Almost everybody is imbalanced.)
(Actually there no such thing as perfect balance.)

Just notice. 

Step your left foot forward to meet your right.
Uttanasana—standing forward bend.
Send love to your hamstrings, whether or not they are your enemies.

Feel the energy of the ground beneath your feet, the earth.

inhale as you lift your torso back up to standing.
Lift your arms out to the sides and overhead.
Praise Ganesh!
Praise the Sun!
Bring your hands together and down in  front of your heart center, pressing the palms and fingers together vibrantly.


(This is one round… just 107 more to go! I like to mix in Warrior One, Warrior Two, Triangle, and lots of other lunge variations as I practice Sun Salutations. But to be perfectly honest, I’ve only done 108 rounds once in my life. Usually it’s more like four.)


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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