sun salutations

I started doing daily morning sun salutations on January 9. I started with one, worked my way up to five, then on the guidance of my chiropractor-philosopher friend Kweli I worked my way up to 9. I’ve been doing 9 every morning for over two weeks and I am loving it.

I’ll spend march and april mostly at a retreat center with lots of yoga classes, so in part I want to get comfortable with the basics by then.

I also deeply want and need a daily physical practice which I can do anytime, anywhere, as part of my journey towards spiritual and body health.

I want to share the flow I’m in with y’all. feel free to advise, add on, or try it out, or pass it on.

1. in breath, I sunrise my hands up on either side to meet above me in prayer.
out breath, I bring praying hands down in front of my heart.

2. in breath as my prayer hands rise above my head;
out breath as I loosen my knees, tuck under my pelvis to protect my back, and fold down. hands can sunset down, or stay in prayer. once down, i let them hang, along with my head, to be a comforting gift of weight to my spine. I often stay here a few breaths and really inhale into my open back.

3. when ready, I in breath up so that my heart is open and back is flat, 90 degrees from my legs.
I out breath back down and drop my left leg back down the mat, landing the left foot at a 45 degree angle.

4. in breath I bring my arms open all the way up to what i call humble warrior pose, which I was taught as warrior 1. i check my hips here to make sure they are pivoting forward, and that i am lunging enough to feel it in my thighs.
out breath I reach my right hand forward straight ahead and left hand back straight behind, dropping my shoulders and body center into what i was taught as warrior 2, but I call reaching warrior.

5. in breath I bring both arms forward and down on either side of my right/front leg;
out breath I drop the right leg back and slowly lower myself through plank to the ground. the slower I can go the stronger I feel.
in breath I press my lower body and hands into the ground, flatten my feet so the tops of my toes are pressed into the mat, extending my upper body as far off the ground as I can, in cobra. i let my eyes lead this pose, looking up as far as possible.
out breath I come down fully to the ground, curl my toes under, and push back into down dog.

6. I measure down dog in breaths – whichever salutation I am on I take that many breaths, as slowly as possible, with as much joy and sense of capacity as possible. by the 7th, 8th and definitely 9th salutation this is trembling prayerful personal work. I often remind myself here that I am playing with my capacity in order to grow it. it is play and growth, not punishment.

7. in breath I walk my feet up to my hands, out breath I drop my right leg back, right foot landing at a 45 degree angle.

8. in breath I raise my arms into humble warrior, checking that my hips are pivoted forward, and that I can feel this stretch throughout my body.
out breath I drop my left arm to reach forward, and my right arm to reach straight back, reaching warrior. keeping my hips forward, I drop my shoulders and body center just the next step deeper.

9. in breath I step my right foot up next to left foot at the top of the mat and drop my arms and head, with pelvis tucked, into what feels like my impression of a heavy river. I out breath once more here, then in breath, straightening up one vertebrae at a time with my arms sunrising up into prayer hands, then out breath drop the prayer hands to my heart.

i usually then actually pray for a while, thanking my body for its work, my spirit for its willingness, and creation for allowing me to exist and know such a unique pleasure as completing sun salutations.

I have had lots of yoga teachers over the years. they have each offered nuggets which flow into each other when I practice.

gopal taught me that if it’s not part of a spiritual path, it’s just deep stretching. Kerri taught me to protect my body and back. angel taught me to give each pose 30%, then 50%, then 80% and then 100% based on what I am tuned into in my body. Janine reminded me to lengthen and relax my spine, kavitha reminded me it should be joyful and elegant. ilana taught me it has to be consistent. gregg taught me that sun salutations might just contain everything the body needs. every teacher has taught me that it’s about the breath first, last, foremost and utmost.

I offer all this to all the other beginners out there! especially the thick peoples who have to navigate tummies and breasts and thighs trying to feel powerful and extended and all – this flow actually feels powerful and not like i am missing anything 🙂