Monday, September 23, 2013

In Rhythms Yoga: Monday Morning Sun Salutations

Start your Monday off right saluting the sun and embracing its invigorating energy. Warm up the body with some simple movements, sun salutations, in coordination with the breath. Three to five rounds of sun salutations help to circulate fresh oxygen to the body, help to relieve tension and tightness in the back and shoulders, and leave you feeling energized. As we salute the sun, allow your heart to lead you and continue an accentuated breath throughout.

 To do a very basic sun salutation: come to standing with the big toes to touch, and leave a slight space in between the heels for balance or stand hip-width distance for more stability and balance. Ground down through the four corners of the feet and gently lift the toes, place them back down lightly for balance. Move through the first time each pose 3-5 breaths. Second and third round of sun salutations, option to move one breath per movement.

Mountain Pose: On an inhale breath, reach the arms over the head, keep the arms active and spin the pinkies inward. Relax the shoulders down the back, making a soft space for the neck. Ground through the four corners of the feet, toes are light. Activate the quadriceps and lift the knee caps. Continue breathing and lengthen the tailbone towards the heels; draw the low belly inward towards your spine. Inhale to prepare and lengthen further through the fingers, towards the sky. Feel the spine extended and feel strong and confident in Mountain Pose.

Forward Fold: On an exhale breath, bend the knees as much as you need and bring the palms to your heart and fold forward with a flat back. Allow the palms to fall to the earth or maybe your shins. Hang the head and neck heavy, shake it yes and no to release tension. Bend the knees as much as you need to feel comfortable in forward fold, and to help release the low back and hamstrings. Gently tuck the chin towards the chest to elongate your neck. Release worries, stress, and mental obstacles in your day.

Halfway lift: On an inhale breath, take a halfway lift. Bring the fingertips to the shins, create a flat back and lengthening out the crown of the head. Draw the shoulder blades back and slight tuck of the chin to lengthen the back of the neck. Feel the spine extended and back of the legs opening.

Forward fold: Exhale and fold forward again, description above

High Plank: Inhale and bring the palms to the earth, shoulder-width distance apart. Walk the feet back, hip-width distance apart. Drop to the knees for more support, if you feel your torso or hips sinking towards the earth. The body will look like a board or plank and is in one straight line. Press the area between the shoulder blades up towards the sky and extend the tailbone towards the heels. Press the backs of the knees towards the sky and energetically, press energy through the heels. Stay here for a few breaths.

Chataranga: Inhale to shift the weight forward, stacking your shoulders over your wrists. Hug the elbows in towards the ribs rather than allowing the elbows to splay out, and lower to a 90 degree angle and pause. Keep the chest level to the hips.

Upward Facing Dog: Inhale and begin to straighten the arms, and roll to the tops of the feet. Roll the shoulders down the back and feel the heart open and exposed. Lift the chest and press the thighs and backs of the knees up towards the ceiling. Feel the gentle backbend, point the toes and smooth out the breath. Stay for a couple of breaths.

Exhale to Downward Facing Dog: Exhale and gently roll the toes, press the hips up and back to downward dog. Palms are shoulder-width distance apart and feet are hips-width distance. Roll the shoulders down the back and feel the spine lengthening, bend the knees as much as you need. Engage the quadriceps and lift the knee caps. Draw the low belly in toward the spine on an exhale breath. Allow the head to relax completely and savor this posture. Down dog releases the spine and allows fresh oxygen to flow towards the brain and central nervous system. Stay in down dog for a few breaths to relax, coming back to a balanced and rhythmic breathing pattern.

Inhale to shift the gaze forward and exhale walk or gently hop towards the front of your mat, bringing your big toes back to touch.

Mountain Pose: Inhale and rise back to mountain pose with the arms over the head and on an exhale, allow the the palms to rest at the heart. Lift the heart into the hands, and close the eyes to take inventory of the body. How is your breath? Allow it to calm. Come back to a place of peace and being mindful of the present moment. (Repeat 3-5 times with the breath).

Sun salutations are an amazing way to start off the day to find release and rejuvenation during the day. Move compassionately, lead with your heart and tune into your breath.

Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.

Christi Iacono
In Rhythms Yoga is located in Clairemont, San Diego, in the Mount streets. Contact for more info. Go to for class schedule and privates.

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