Envision a cheesy bad infomercial voice over
Do you have trouble sleeping, constantly tossing and turning throughout the night? Maybe your hamstrings feel so tight you could bounce a half dollar off them? Perhaps you’re so stressed that normal every day activities are tough to complete?
Lucky for you, I have the perfect product. For the low low price of hard work and persistence you too can cure all that ails you. Last but not least, for a limited time offer, if you throw in a little focus and breathing – we will include this literal visualization of Sun Salutation B. YOU WILL NOT FIND A DEAL LIKE THIS ANYWHERE ELSE – I GUARANTEE IT.
Okay end scene – no more infomercial voice.
For today’s featured viz I wanted to take a different approach to visualizing Sun Salutation B. I decided to utilize the literal names of the poses to represent this amazing sequence. If you start at the top and move clockwise – this will be 2/3 of the movement.
Of course if you wanted to complete the full sequence you would need a little more direction, but I thought this would be an interesting fun way to view the sequence. Let’s break down what each image represents and provide a little detail into each pose.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana): Stand with your feet together. Press your palms together in prayer position. Rest your thumbs on your chest and take a few breaths. Inhale and raise your hands above your head with your hands facing each other. Make sure your feet are equally balanced front to back and left to right. Flex your thighs to ensure your butt is tucked and not sticking out.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana): Inhale as you simultaneously bend your knees and lower your hips, similar to sitting back in a chair. Keep your arms raised, reaching through your fingertips. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs as you reach your elbows back towards your ears. Do not puff your rib-cage forward. Ensure your tailbone is drawn down to the floor, keeping your lower back long. If you can bring your hips down parallel with the floor, if not oh well, and lift through your heart. Shift your weight into your heels, around 80%. Keep your gaze soft and steady, just like your breath.
Forward Fold (Uttanasana): Exhale as you hinge forward from the hips. If your hamstrings are tight, it’s okay to bend your knees. Otherwise, slowly straighten your legs. Rest your hands beside your feet and pull your nose to your knees. Engage your quadriceps and draw them up through the ceiling. The more you engage your quadriceps, the more your hamstrings will release.
Half Fold (Ardha Uttanasana): Inhale as you lift your torso halfway. Make sure to lengthen your spine forward so your back is flat. Your torso should be parallel to the floor. I like to bring my fingertips to my shins, but you can let them hang as well.
Plank (Chataranga Dandasana): Push your feet back, with your weight equally distributed between your feeet and hands. Keep your elbows directly over your wrists. Ensure you stomach is tight and your back is flat – never round your back. Slowly lower your body to hover a few inches above the floor. You can drop slowly all the way to your mat if you like.
Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana): Inhale and draw your chest forward while straightening your arms. Focus on drawing your shoulders back and lifting your heart to the sky. Ensure the tops of your feet are pressed against your mat – lifting your thighs off the mat and fully engaging your leg muscles. Make sure your elbows are tucked into your side and as always – breathe.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Exhale, lift your hips, and roll over your toes – placing the soles of your feet on the floor with equal balance. Ground down through your hands and the soles of your feet as you lengthen your spine. If your heels come down to the mat great, if not no big deal. Press your mat away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones through the ceiling. Finally, press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.
Warrior 1 (Adho Mukha Svanasana): Inhale as you step your right/left foot between your hands and bring your back heel to the ground. Bend your front knee while keeping your back leg straight. Check your front knee and make sure your knee is not tracking over your foot. Turn your front foot out 90 degrees, so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat & pivot your back foot inwards at a 45-degree angle. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot, so we could draw a line from the front wall through your front heel and back arch to the back wall. Keep your pelvis turned toward the front of your mat. Raise your arms straight overhead and gaze to the sky. Make sure to tuck your tailbone so we avoid lower back injury. Your back leg should be perfectly straight with all parts of your foot pushing equally into your mat. Your front leg should be bent at a 90 degree angle & your weight should be equally balanced between both feet.
Last but most definitely not least, the most important part of practicing yoga is listening to yourself and paying attention to what your body is telling you. There is no need to push it farther than you feel comfortable. To me, this is the most important part of beginning a regular yoga practice.
I know yoga can be very intimidating to start, but believe me no one truly cares what you look like or how good you are. People only care that you are actively trying to improve your life. So let go of all the bad excuses and just start practicing. After all, we talking about practice man. Practice.