Yoga Love Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 5

Love Your Sun Salutations

45 min - Practice
10 likes
Loading...

Description

Julie guides us in variations of Sun Salutations with the support of a wall, chair, and blocks. Moving with our breath, this accessible practice builds slowly and progressively, promoting strength, flexibility, and balance. You will fall in love with Sun Salutations again, or for the first time.

See the attached .pdf for a journaling exercise that goes along with this practice.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Wall, Block (2)

Transcript

Read Full Transcript

(waves rushing) Jai and welcome. In this video we are going to explore sun salutations. And I know what you might be thinking. Oh, sun salutations. But I've had the exact same experience in my practice.

I've really disliked sun salutations until I started using props. And when I started using props, I felt myself become stronger, more in tune, more embodied with my practice. And so I would love to share this with you today. We're going to explore using the wall, chair, and two blocks. So you're more than welcome to use one or two or three.

You could use all of them or none of them. It's really up to you. But I'm going to give some variations and just follow along at your own pace. We're going to start off at the wall. So turning towards the wall, just starting off by kind of measuring it out.

I like to think about arm's length away from the wall. So once you have found that position, just drop your arms and find Tadasana, find Mountain Pose. And you might start off by just wiggling into your feet, finding your grounding. Spreading out the toes. Finding the plantar, the heels.

Just letting the arms drift down the body. You might close your eyes or have a soft gaze. But using this time to find raffia. Breathe, relax, feel, watch, and allow. Just starting off by finding your breath.

The breath is an incredible tool to use during the sun salutations. Perhaps you found your dirga breath through three part breath, breathing into the belly and the ribs and the upper chest. And from this grounding, from your breath, we'll begin to find some movement. With your next inhale, let your arms extend out and up. Finding Urdhva Hastasana.

Finding a long stance through your fingertips, through your arms, through your back side of your body. All of it coming from the rootedness of your feet. If you feel like you might need a wider stance to go into a forward fold, open the feet just a little bit wider. Because on your next exhale, you're going to dive down. Releasing yourself towards the floor, towards your feet.

If you experience high blood pressure, perhaps not going all the way down, perhaps just staying in a half forward fold, you might use the support of your blocks underneath your hands. Whichever one you choose, just hang out for a moment in your forward fold, giving space for your belly in between your thighs. A bend into the knee is a softening of the shins for the hamstrings. Then on your next inhale, you're going to rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana half lift, bringing your hands to your shins. Your shins soften into your palms to create length for the heart, length for the back of the skull.

And then with your next exhale, reign down, letting the skull drop back down towards the earth. And then from here we're going to walk into Downward Facing Dog at the wall. So I like to use my hands to walk myself up the wall as support, and once I've found my hands at the wall, letting them be directly out from the shoulders walking your feet back and finding length of the arms and the spine and the tailbone. And a couple of full breaths here. You could soften the shins down, reach the tailbone back, feel the length of the side body, length of the ribs, reaching equally through your arms towards your palms, fingertips.

I like a little sway in the hips. Feels really good in the back. And then with your next inhale, we're going to come forward to a plank pose. And coming forward to a plank pose involves stacking the vertebrae, stacking the spine, feeling the shoulders coming back over the wrists and dive deep into your knuckles, letting the knuckles press into the wall, feeling the length of your fingertips. Let the shoulders draw down and away from your ears, creating width in your collarbones.

From here we're just going to come into a nice back bend, taking the heart up, perhaps the gaze looks up, let the shoulders drop. Keep the breath fluid. Let it expand. And then on your next exhale, reach the hips back and coming into that Downward Facing Dog once again. If at any point you need to shift or change to make things more comfortable, feel free.

You might need to take a step forward or a step back. Just notice in your body how there is support, how there is hardening or softening. One more deep inhale. And on the exhale, walking the hands down, coming back into that Uttanasana or to the blocks. And then inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift.

And exhale, forward fold. On your next inhale, bring your hands to your hips. Bend your knees, press into your feet, come up to stand. Reach the fingertips on the inhale towards the sky. Urdhva Hastasana.

And exhale back into Tadasana. And breathe. That's it. That's the sun salutation. So we're going to continue to add on.

You are more than welcome to stick with what we've just done. That's a practice in itself. And if that's where your body wants to go, go with it. If not, follow along and we'll continue to add on. Coming back to your Tadasana.

Find the feet, find the plantars. And on your next inhale, reach the arms out and up. And exhale, dive forward, swan dive back into your Uttanasana, forward fold. Again, using any prop to support the hands, to support the heart, to support the legs. Inhale, rise up halfway.

Ardha Uttanasana half lift, flat back. And exhale, fold down. Inhale, walk the hands up the wall, finding your Downward Facing Dog. You can look at your hands, finding the support before reaching the hips back, finding the length of the spine, support of the navel. Can the belly reach into the back?

Supporting the backside of our body through the front side. Inhale, roll forward, coming into that plank pose. And then exhale, back bend. Inhale, draw it back, Downward Facing Dog. Take one full breath here.

And then with your next inhale, look forward. You're going to step your right foot forward towards the wall. My foot is just a couple of inches, maybe three inches away from the wall. Bending into my right knee and beginning to walk my hands up the wall, reaching up towards the crease of the wall in the ceiling. Feeling that stretch in the side body, the stretch in the back.

Can you keep your tailbone long, neutralizing the spine, letting the right hip soften back, and then reaching more dynamically through your left heel, feeling the stretch of the calf, feeling the stretch of the hamstring, all the way up through the heart. Gaze looks forward. Breathing deep into the ribs, into the lungs. And on your next exhale, walk the hands down. Place them at the wall, prepare yourself to step into Downward Facing Dog.

Take as many breaths as you need after that dynamic stretch. Little micro movements. And then when you are ready for the other side, let's move forward. Taking the left foot towards the wall, allowing it to be a couple of inches away from the wall, keeping that right heel down towards the floor and inhaling, stretching the fingertips up towards the ceiling, left knee stays bent. And this dynamic stretch in two directions, reaching the fingertips as high up as you possibly can as that right heel finds its way down towards the earth, left hip softening.

Where's the breath? One more full breath. With your next inhale, slowly walk the hands back. And exhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog. You might choose to stay in this Downward Facing Dog like shape, or you could come forward to the plank.

Taking the back bend, gaze looking up. Inhale and exhale. Pull it back, Downward Facing Dog. One full breath here. With the next exhale that enters your body, just go ahead and begin to walk the hands down, finding the mat, coming back, Uttanasana.

And inhale, rise up, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift. And exhale and fold. Inhale, hands to the hips, bend the knees, rise up to stand. Inhale, rising fingertips to the sky. And exhale, arms down.

And breathe. We'll do one more. And this time we'll add in a little bit of a shoulder opener. Again, you can stay with the first variation, second variation, or come to the third variation, your choice. Find your feet.

Let the arms rest by the side. Connect to breath. Inhale, arms rise up. Exhale, forward fold, diving deep. Inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift.

Let the heart expand forward. And exhale, forward fold. Inhale, hands walk themselves towards the wall. Where is your support? Let it come through your hands and your feet all the way into the mid-line of your body.

On your next inhale, roll forward, plank pose. Exhale, back bend. Inhale, down dog. Full exhale here. Inhale, look forward.

On the exhale, stepping the right foot forward. Same lunge, right knee bends, fingertips walk up. Deep inhale here, moving a little bit faster, exhale. On the inhale, stepping the left foot forward, bringing the right arm out, palm against the wall. And then you're going to turn the chest to face the left feeling the opening across the right collarbone towards your right fingertips.

You might choose to keep your left fingertips on the wall as support. You can also bring the left hand to the left hip. Roll the shoulders back, let the collarbone on the right side enter into your fingers. Can you find that length? With every exhale, perhaps the heart turns towards the left just a little bit more.

Deep inhale. And then exhale, release. Bring yourself back, hands at the wall. Step back, Downward Facing Dog. I promise we'll get to the other side.

Stepping back, Downward Facing Dog. Deep exhale. Inhale, roll forward, plank. Exhale, back bend. Inhale, Downward Facing Dog.

One full exhale here. Inhale, left foot steps forward. Left knee bends, fingertips walk up the wall. Feel the stretch on the right leg. One full breath.

On the next inhale, stepping that right foot forward, coming to the wall. Left arm extends out, right fingertips at the wall. Reach through those left fingertips. Turn the heart to the right. Feel the stretch of the pectorals all the way into your heart center.

Again, you can keep the right fingertips at the wall or bring the right hand to the hip. Whatever would feel juicy in the pose. Where does the breath move and how can it support the posture? At the bottom of the next exhale, slowly release. Hands to the wall and inhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog.

Your choice, stay at Downward Facing Dog or on your next inhale, roll forward, plank pose. Exhale, back bend. Inhale, Downward Facing Dog. Breathe here. Stay for as long as is right for your body.

But at the next exhale, you're going to walk your hands down the wall, back towards your feet. Coming back into Uttanasana. And then inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift, and exhale, fold down. Inhale, hands to your hips, bend the knees, flat back, rise back up. And inhale, those arms up towards the sky.

And then exhale. Arms down, Tadasana. To let all of that go, we'll come into Prasarita Padottanasana, wide legged forward fold, at the wall. Bring in your booty against the wall, feet wide, and exhale, forward fold. Just letting everything go.

If you're somebody that has a large chest, you might choose to take a strap and wrap it around the breasts, around the chest so that you have space for your face. It's really up to you. And then on your next inhale, bend into your knees. Walk yourself up your legs. Step into Tadasana.

And let's find the chair. We're going to move on to our chair series. Very similar to what we were practicing at the wall, but this time with a chair. If you don't have a chair available to you, feel free to continue to use the wall or use the floor. It's really up to you.

So taking the chair and placing it up against the wall, I find for a lot of my students, this feels a lot safer so that they don't feel that the chair is going to slide out from underneath them. But if you choose to, you can also have it away from the wall, but I would say keep the mat underneath it so it doesn't slide. So similar to exactly the series that we were just doing, we're going to practice the initial sun salutation and then continue to add on. You can stick with whatever is best for you. Just listen to your body and notice and listen to what it's asking for.

Starting off a couple of feet away from the chair. Find your Tadasana, perhaps turn your palms forward to open through your heart. On your next inhale, arms rise up, Urdhva Hastasana. And exhale, forward fold. This is where you could use the chair for your forward fold.

If you have high blood pressure, not going all the way. Or if you have really tight hamstrings, this is just a really great place to pause. If you would like to go further, bending into the hips, letting yourself dive deep. You can walk your hands towards your feet as well. On your next inhale, Ardha Uttanasana.

I like using the chair here for that half lift, flat back. And then exhale, lower down. Inhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog. I like to plant my palms directly onto the chair, but you can also grasp onto the chair. It's up to you.

Taking that step back, feeling the hips, drawing back, length of the spine. Inhale, roll forward, plank pose. Lifting up onto the balls of the feet, feeling the shoulders moving over towards the wrists. And then on your next inhale, bring the heart forward through the arms, coming into a back bend. You can stay on your tippy toes or plant the tops of the feet onto the floor.

Exhale, round over those feet, press back. Downward Facing Dog. On your next inhale, walking your feet forward, back into Uttanasana. Full exhale here. Inhale, rise up.

Ardha Uttanasana, half lift. And exhale back down. Inhale, reverse the swan dive, reach the arms out and up. And exhale, arms down by your side, Tadasana. Two full breaths.

Notice the pace of your heat, the pace of your breath. Could you slow down? Staying connected. Inhale, arms rise up. Exhale, forward fold, Uttanasana.

Inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana. Exhale, fold down. Inhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog. Full exhale here. Inhale, come forward, plank.

Exhale, back bend, heart forward, your choice. Tops of the feet or on the toes. And exhale, press back. Down Dog. Inhale, look forward.

And you're going to step the right foot in front of you, but keep your right leg straight. Feeling the stretch here, drawing back through your hips. Parsvottanasana, Pyramid Pose. You might stay here, you might choose to bend the elbows, going a little bit deeper. If you need some extra space, bring your left hand to your belly, pull it aside.

And that might give more space for you to lower. You can lower onto your forearms. You can bring your hands to the floor. But just remember that compression is okay. Feeling the belly pressing against the thighs.

Can you breathe into that sensation? And can the breath soften it? Can it soften your relationship to the belly? And then on your next inhale, rise back up. And exhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog.

Take another breath. And then inhale, look forward, step your left foot towards the chair. Keeping both legs straight. Imagining that you are standing on railroad tracks, not a balancing beam. So feet are wide apart.

Create the space for the belly using your right hand, pull the belly aside and from that spaciousness, perhaps going into that forward fold. Can the feet, can the legs be dynamic in the support of your mid-line? If there is opportunity, if there is openness for you to go further, perhaps the hands come to the floor. Maybe there's a bend into the knee. Where can you soften?

Next inhale, coming out. Exhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog. Inhale, look forward, step yourself back into Uttanasana, forward fold. Full exhale here. Inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift.

Exhale, fold down. Inhale, reverse the swan dive, reach the arms out and up. Fingertips to the sky. And exhale, arms down by your side. Let's continue.

Inhale, arms rise up. Exhale, fold. Inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana. Exhale, fold down, Uttanasana. Inhale, Downward Facing Dog.

One full exhale here. Inhale, roll forward, plank pose. Exhale, back bend. Either on the toes or the tops of the feet. And exhale, press back.

Downward Facing Dog. Inhale, look forward. And on your next exhale, step the right foot back into your Pyramid Pose, finding your railroad tracks. And see as you find this position if you can plant your left hand down onto the seat of the chair. And inhale, pull your belly around to the right and reach the fingertips up towards the sky.

Can you equalize the pressure in both of your feet? Can you reach and expand from your heart into the right fingertips as well as the left? Can you smile? Can you soften the face and the jaw? And then exhale, right hand plants itself back to the seat.

Step back, Downward Facing Dog. One full breath here. Inhale, look forward. Step the left foot towards the chair. Plant the foot down, finding those railroad tracks.

If you need an example, there's railroad tracks out there. And plant into your feet. Place your right hand down to the seat and inhale, left arm can reach up. Again, if you need to, pull the belly aside and find the extension through your heart, pressing into your feet. How can the feet support the heart in its turn and its twist?

Finding the edges of your lips. How do they support the pose? Good, and exhale, release. Hands to the seat. Step back, Downward Facing Dog.

Take the breaths that you need here. Soften the heart. When you're ready, inhale, look forward. Come to Uttanasana. Full exhale.

Inhale, rise up halfway. Exhale, release. Inhale, reverse the swan dive, reach the arms out and up. And exhale. Tadasana.

So that was the sequence with the chair. We'll set that aside and now we'll come to the sequence with the blocks. So you might stick with the chair, that's fine. But you might also try a little bit more of an advanced series with the blocks. So you could take two blocks.

Place them at the front of the mat. I like them at the second level, medium level. And then for support of the knees, you can take a blanket or two or your bolster and place it down on the mat. Just to begin. I have about foot's distance between the block and the blanket here.

So coming forward, place the blocks at the front of the feet. So if you have your feet closer together, bring the blocks a little bit closer together. If you have your feet wide apart, have your blocks wide apart. Beginning by finding your feet. Turn the palms forward.

Open through the collarbones and the heart space. Couple of breaths here. On the next inhale, fingertips rise up. Press through the feet, lift through the fingertips. And then exhale, dive forward, forward fold, Uttanasana.

On the inhale, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift. My fingertips are staying on the blocks. As I exhale, palms plant to the blocks. On my next inhale, keeping the palms planted on the blocks, stepping myself back, Downward Facing Dog. I really recommend some sturdy blocks as you practice Downward Dog here.

On the next exhale, press the hips back. Lengthen through the arms into the shoulders and into the spine up through your tailbone. And then on your next inhale, you will roll forward to plank pose. And you can choose to do full plank. You might choose to do half plank with your knees on the floor.

Choosing what variation is best for you, open the collarbones, rise up through the crown of the head. And on your next exhale, bend your elbows just an inch and inhale, bring the heart forward. Supported upward facing dog. And then on your exhale, lift the knees, press up and back. Downward Facing Dog.

Deep inhale. At the bottom of your next exhale, look forward. And inhale, step yourself back up to Uttanasana. And exhale, fold. Inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift, fingertips on the block.

And exhale, forward fold. Inhale, reverse the swan dive, reach the arms out and up, flat back, reach up towards the sky. And exhale, arms down by your side. Just as a note, if walking your feet forward to Uttanasana doesn't work for you, you can always walk your hands back towards your feet or you could do kind of a variation of both. Walking your feet forward and then your hands back.

It's really up to you and how to best get into that forward fold. Let's continue to add on. Find your feet. Find your breath. Inhale, fingertips rise up.

And exhale, forward fold. Inhale, rise up. Ardha Uttanasana, half lift. And exhale, fold down. Inhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog.

One full breath here. On the next inhale, rolling forward plank. Again, your choice, full plank, half plank. Exhale, bend the elbows. Inhale, Upward Facing Dog.

And exhale, press back. Downward Facing Dog. Good. From here lower your knees, Tabletop position. You're going to take your right block and move it over towards the left.

Swinging your right foot around, place it on the earth. Untuck the back left toes. And you might just take a couple of micro movements forward and back. Again, if you need more space, pull the belly aside. Give the leg the ability to find movement.

If there's compression, let there be compression. Inhales might take you forward, exhales might take you back, or vice versa, whatever is working in your body. And you might just stay here. You might just explore. But if you want to try that Pyramid Pose, go ahead and bend your right knee, tuck your left toes, lift the back left knee, and reach the hips back.

And exhale, forward fold. Again, pulling the belly aside. And releasing. And then inhale, bring the left knee back down towards the floor. Exhale, right knee back, underneath the right hip.

Take the right block over to the right. And inhale, left block over towards the right block. On the next inhale, swing that left foot around. If it gets stuck, just walk the foot up. You can even use a hand to help support the leg forward.

Untuck the back right toes and just find the micro movement of bringing the hips forward and back. One rule of thumb is to not allow your left knee to go past your toes. Just for the safety of the knees. You might choose to just stay with this motion. But you might also choose to come into the variation of Pyramid Pose.

Keeping the left knee bent, tucking the right toes, lifting up through the right leg, hips rise up and back. Left leg straightens and exhale. Forward fold. Again, choosing to move the belly aside. You can use the blocks coming down onto the forearms.

If you're uber flexible, you can move the blocks aside. It's up to you. Take one more full breath. Then inhale, rise up. Exhale, lower the right knee.

Inhale, swing that left knee back and around to that Tabletop position. Bring the blocks so that they are prepped for Downward Facing Dog. Tuck your toes, lift your hips, draw up and back. Deep breath. Inhale, look forward, step yourself to your blocks or walk your hands back towards your feet.

Inhale, rise up halfway. Exhale and fold. Inhale, reverse the swan dive, reaching the arms out and up, bringing the palms to touch. And exhale, arms down by your side. We have one more flow to go through.

Feel free to join me or you can have a seat and take a meditation. Whatever feels right in your body right now. Here we go, last round. Arms down by your side. Inhale, arms rise up.

Exhale, forward fold. Inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift. Exhale, fold down. Inhale, step back, Downward Facing Dog. One full breath.

On the next inhale, roll forward, plank pose. Either knees to the floor or full plank. Exhale, elbows bend an inch. Inhale, Upward Facing Dog. Your choice, knees on the floor or knees lifted.

And then exhale, press back. Downward Facing Dog. Good. On your next exhale, lower the knees down towards your blanket or towards the floor. Again, take the right block over to the left.

Swing your right leg around. This time you're going to straighten that right leg and pause. Pull the belly aside. If you need to, foot can walk out a little bit further. Just know what is supportive in your body.

Take a breath. Here you notice that my foot is staying directly onto the floor, toes touching down onto the earth. Feeling a little bit more of the stretch happening on the front side of the leg. Compared to if I lift the toes and pull my toes back towards my face, now I'm revealing a little bit more in the back side of my leg, into my calf, into my hamstring. And breathe.

Roll the shoulders down. Release the jaw and tongue. Good. Exhale, bring the foot to the floor. Step the right knee back towards the left.

And we'll switch sides. Bringing the right block and the left block over towards the right, swinging the left leg around, placing the left foot directly onto the floor. Choosing what is best for your body. And then just beginning that micro movement of drawing the hip back, keeping the toes planted, bottom of the foot planted. Breathing.

And if you need to, walk the foot out a little bit more. And then play around with drawing the toes back towards your face, feeling the back side of the leg reaching from the heel into the calf, into the hamstring. If you need to, a micro bend to your knee can be really helpful here, especially if you tend to lock out your knee. Take one more full breath. And then exhale, release.

Draw the left knee back next to the right. Prepare your blocks for Downward Facing Dog. On your next inhale, tuck the toes, lift the hips, Down Dog. One full exhale. At the bottom of the exhale, look forward and inhale, step forward, Uttanasana.

And then exhale, fold. Inhale, rise up halfway, Ardha Uttanasana, half lift. Exhale, fold down. Inhale, reverse the swan dive, reach the arms out and up. Extend towards the sky and then exhale, arms down by your side.

Awesome work. Let's remove all the props, setting them aside. And we're going to prepare ourselves for Shavasana. So you might actually keep the blanket and use it as a tool to keep you warm in Shavasana. I'm going to put some over my feet.

My feet tend to get quite cold. So lowering yourself down, whatever that looks like for you. I'm going to turn the other direction. Letting the legs extend. Placing the blanket over your feet.

And rolling yourself back. You might choose to open the arms out, palms facing up, rolling the shoulders back. If there's any sensitivity in your back, you might keep your knees bent, soles of the feet on the floor. Take a deep inhale, open the mouth and exhale. And sink into Shavasana.

Please stay in Shavasana for as long as you would like. No rush. You may stay here or follow along with me. But if you are going to begin the awakening process, just allow the breath to deepen. Let there be any movement that is soft and gentle.

And perhaps swallowing or shaking the head from side to side. You can sit yourself upright or you can move into a fetal position. Rolling over to one side. And then using a free hand to press yourself up to a seated position. Whatever that looks like for you.

Taking your hands to your heart in Anjali Mudra. Bowing your brain to your heart. Your heart to your body. And just giving thanks to our bodies, our inner teachers for all of the wisdom and support they provide through our practice. Thank you so much for being here.

Namaste.

Comments

1 person likes this.
Such a creative class. You are an amazing teacher.

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.