30-Minute Vinyasa Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Sun: Sunshine in Your Heart

30 min - Practice


Burn through stagnant energy in this invigorating flow honoring the Sun. Generate heat in Surya Namaskar (Sun Salute) C, move in a mandala pattern though standing poses creating strength and opening in the body, and explore Revolved Half Moon and Wheel pose, before cooling in Plow and Shoulderstand. You will feel enthusiastic, focused, and inspired.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)

About This Video


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Greetings, friends. Welcome to your solar practice. This flow is going to be a little bit similar to our fire element practice, where we'll be generating heat and moving in a mandala around the mat. It'll be helpful for you to have two blocks for this practice. Let's get started standing at the top of the mat.

Bring your hands together at your heart, and bring the big toes to touch a little bit of space between the heels. Take a deep breath in and feel your chest rise. Feel your gaze rise. As you exhale, release your hands. Circle the arms out and up.

Take a full breath in. Exhale, swan dive to a forward fold. Bend your knees as you like. We're moving into surya namaskarsi. So we'll step the right foot back to a runner's lunge.

Chest forward, back leg long. Exhale, step back to down dog, and let's take the left leg high for a variation. Shift forward to plank. For this first vinyasa, lower the knees, chest, and hips. Slide through cobra into your upward dog.

Exhale, step back to downward dog. Go ahead and lift the right leg up on your inhale. Exhale, step it forward to that purposeful runner's lunge. And then step to the front of the mat, forward fold. Inhale, rise and circle the arms.

Exhale, come back to namaste. That was one half of a cycle. Let's do it again. Inhale, circle out and up. Exhale, forward fold.

Release head and neck. Step the left foot back, runner's lunge. Gaze steady. Exhale to down dog. Take the right leg high.

Shift to plank. We'll take that same vinyasa, knees, chest, and hips lower. Slide through cobra into your upward dog. Exhale, downward dog. Inhale, right leg high.

Exhale, step it through runner's lunge. Step to the front of the mat. Inhale to rise. Exhale, back to namaste. We'll continue with that again.

We'll just edit one thing out. So inhale, circle out and up. Exhale, forward fold. Right foot steps back on an inhale. Exhale, downward dog.

Inhale, shift to plank. This time, chaturanga, hover. Inhale to your back bend. Exhale, down dog. Same exhale, step the right foot forward and then inhale.

Forward fold, top of the mat as you exhale. Inhale to rise. Hands to heart, exhale. One last half of the cycle. Inhale, out and up.

Exhale, forward fold. Left foot steps back, inhale. Exhale, downward dog. Notice the quality of your movement as you inhale, shift. Exhale, lower, hover.

Inhale, open the heart, upward dog. Exhale, downward dog. Left foot steps forward as you inhale. Exhale, forward fold, top of the mat. Inhale to rise.

Exhale, hands to your heart. Let's take the feet about as wide as the mat. Lace the fingers behind you or take a strap. Open your chest on an inhale. Exhale, forward fold.

Release into the shoulders here. Lift your shoulder blades up away from the earth and let your head and neck dangle down. Take three good breaths. Eyes steady on one point. Letting your arms relax up and over.

And just stay very clear in your focus, in your breath. Notice kind of the rhythm and cadence that we're moving in has a little bit more of that activating solar, almost masculine quality. We're generating heat, working with focus and concentration. One more breath here. As you exhale, release your hands.

Let's go ahead and lift the heart halfway. Walk your feet back about a third of the way on your mat and bring the feet together. Bend your knees open like a diamond. Option for crow pose either on your back, I'm gonna demonstrate this briefly, coiling up or stay lifted and squeeze the knees into the triceps. Shift forward one foot, maybe both feet lift and just allow yourself, give yourself permission to just go right into this shape.

As you exhale, you can step or float to Chaturanga. Open the heart, inhaling to upward dog. Exhale to downward dog. We're about to start moving in a mandala, a big circular pattern around your mat. So let's step the feet a little closer together.

Inhale the right leg to the sky and then open your hip, bend your knee. Take a couple circulations of your right ankle, a couple circulations of the right femur bone from the hip, warming up through the hip and low back. Go the other way, exhaling as you lift and then stretch your leg long like the rays of the sun. Lift up high on your left toe, really reach your right leg through the roof. Exhale, step forward to warrior one base.

We'll inhale to come all the way up, left hand to the nape of the neck. A little variation here, grab onto the tip of the left elbow, setting up your arms like we do in Gomukhasana. You can stay right here or release right hand behind your back and take the fingertips or use a strap, even just resting your hands on your back is fine. Let the heart open. Let's pulse a little bit here.

Inhaling to rise, exhale, sink down. Inhale to rise, really seal the outer edge of the back foot and as you sink down, wrap left ribs forward. This is a great way to open the shoulders and prepare for wheel, which is an option that's coming a little later. Take one more breath. Exhale, sink and then open up into your warrior two, adjusting your feet, adjusting your roots.

Deep breath here, steady gaze right on your middle finger of the front hand. Holding the shape just long enough to feel the heat. Deep breath in. As you exhale, cartwheel forward and down. We'll pivot through the center of the mat.

Right toes turn in, left toes turn out and then open up your arms into warrior two on the second side. Again, gaze steady right on the middle finger. Any intention you're working with, put it right there in your hand, holding it like a bird. To come out of this, let's reverse our warrior. Inhale and then come to extended side angle pose, Parsvakonasana, top arm alongside the ear.

You're welcome to stay here or you can go into a half or full wrap of the hips. And just draw the bottom hip into the midline, turn the heart open, maybe look over your shoulder. One of the things that I always like to incorporate in my own solar practice are the poses that are challenging for me, that are hard. This is one of the things that we avoid typically in our asana practice are the things we need. So if this doesn't come naturally, just know that you're not alone.

Let's open up into triangle pose, big flush through the arms and legs. And then exhale, simply step back to downward dog. We'll take that same right leg and rise, step directly through to crescent pose. Coming around the mandala, we'll inhale, rise to crescent just one time, then exhale, reach forward and down. Walk to your left all the way to the front of the mat, crescent pose once again, exhale to prayer twist.

And we just came all the way around the mandala. So let's breathe here for a moment or two. Pressing top hand into bottom hand, either looking down to the side or up, over your shoulder, release your hands. Take a little standing split. You're welcome to use your blocks under your hands if you like, I'm gonna use mine.

Shift forward, lift the chest and then exhale. You can step or float back through your vinyasa. Inhale, open the heart, exhale, downward dog. Three good breaths right here. Inhale the left leg to the sky, open the hip, circulate through the ankle a few times in each direction.

Circulate knee to navel, femur bone and hip. Each direction, just nice big generous circles here. And then start to extend long through the left leg. Rise up high on the ball to the right toe. Reach up as high as you can.

Really feel your expansiveness here. And then as you exhale, step through to warrior one base. Back foot on a steep diagonal, inhale to rise. Right hand to the nape of the neck, left hand to the tip of the elbow, finding your gomukhasana variation. Just opening triceps and shoulders.

Feel free to add the back hand wherever it can find a hangout space, right? You might be here. And then just inhale a little bit like you're riding up and over waves. As you exhale, sink down. Breathing as you pulse and almost massage your way into these shapes, adjusting with your breath, adjusting with movement.

We're not mannequins. We don't have to freeze inside of postures. We can let them pulse and expand. Live and breathe. Let's open up to warrior two, adjusting your feet.

Eyes steady. Notice how this feels different. Breathe with it. Let's go ahead and circle the arms up and over. Pivot the feet to warrior two on the second side, facing the back of the mat.

Arrive and breathe. Really working with establishing really clean lines of energy and focus. Let's reverse our warrior. Sink deeper into the lunge as you reach up and back. And then exhale, extended side angle pose, either forearm to thigh or hand to the inner foot.

Option to wrap. And since you have the back view here, make sure you're wrapping above the hip rather than below the hip at the base of the spine. Notice if you kind of bow forward, pull your hip underneath you, turn your chest open. And again, if this tends to be one of those postures that's challenging for you, embrace it. Breathe with it.

Do what you can. Top shoulder rolls back. Let's open up into trikonasana. Let everything flush. Exhale, release, step back to down dog, hands towards the back of the mat.

Take that same left leg high. Step it through runner's lunge. One breath to crescent pose, lifting through the heart. Exhale, reach forward and down. Walk it to the original front of the mat.

Inhale, crescent. Take a prayer twist. Back knee can come down, a little more lunar. It can stay lifted, a little more solar. Try to get long, back leg long, spine long.

Breathing. One more breath here. Exhale, release with control to your standing split. Back leg lifts, stride it forward. Relax through the head and neck.

Hips can be square or open, your choice. And then as you're ready, step or push off that right foot and float to chaturanga. Inhale, open your heart. Exhale, downward dog. Let's take a moment in child's pose to balance our energy.

So rest. Take three generous breaths here. A balanced solar practice doesn't mean pedal to the metal the whole time, thankfully, but creating heat but then tempering it and taking moments to ground down so we have a steady fire rather than one that's burning too bright, too fast or wavering. So one more breath here. Exhale completely.

Feels good to pause for a moment. And then let's come on up to hands and knees. And we'll add a little quadricep opener before we come up into our next balance pose. So lift your hips up into down dog for a moment. Let's step the feet close together.

Inhale the right leg to the sky. Open up your hip and bend your knee. So we'll take this opportunity to flip our dog and turn it into a half back bend. You can shift the shoulders forward. I'd love for you to go slow.

And notice I've rolled to the edge of my left foot. Left knee can be down as an option. Place the ball of your right foot close to the long edge of the mat. The right hand's gonna come off the mat and then just turn your hips and heart open like a sunrise. It doesn't happen quickly.

It's slow and steady and circulate your top arm. Let your hips melt down as your hand reaches towards your foot. And then come back up. Slow sunrise circular pattern. Exhale.

And just notice the difference of our pace here. Once more, inhale, lift the hips. Open the heart. As you exhale, bring your hand back around to center. Let's step the right foot to the outside of our right hand and lower the back knee.

Great idea to pad your back knee with a folded towel or a blanket. Turn the right toes out. So we'll reach back, take hold of the big toe side of your foot and open your heart as you draw your heel towards your glute. If this doesn't work for your knee, just hand right at the sacrum. Let the top of the hip flexor here open.

Let the chest open, sinking the pelvis towards the earth. And anywhere that you might kinda play around with gravity, maybe sinking into the left shoulder and pressing up out of it, just notice what range you have in this shape. And then let that go. Press back to downward dog. And let's go to the second side.

So left leg rises, open the hip. Really take your time to map the territory as you shift forward in the shoulders. Roll to the edge or the knee of the right foot. The left foot comes to the floor. And then we turn the heart inside out.

Big backstroke. Exhale, let your hips come down like you're gonna sit on the mat. And then continue that pathway up and around. Exhale. It's a beautiful massage for the bottom shoulder.

Inhaling to rise, the spine gets to open. Exhale, come back to the center, plank. Take the left foot outside the left hand. Back knee comes down. Turning your foot out, reach back.

See about grabbing that back foot? Pulling it in. And then just get curious here with the shoulders, with the spine. Noticing where you feel a little heat. Breathing into it.

Drawing the heel in. My right quad always feels a little bit tighter than my left, so sending some extra love. I'm gonna stay here for an extra beat. And then let it go. Step back to downward dog.

Let's inhale to our toes. Bend your knees, look forward. Take a nice high hop. Feet to hands. Lift the heart halfway.

We've got these blocks right in front of us. Let's turn them tall and lift the chest. Okay, so good news. We're coming into twisting half moon. Everyone's favorite pose.

And we're gonna learn to love this pose. So with the blocks turned tall, maybe even you can set it up taller for you depending on where you're at. Let's take the left leg and reach it back. And if you wanna build the blocks up taller then you move them under the left hand. And just feel this long line of energy from your crown to your hips to the back heel will flex the sole of the left foot.

Keeping your weight nice and even as best you can. Put a little bend in the right knee. And then open up the chest, lifting the right hand. And notice that the shoulders and hips kinda wanna counterbalance and tilt. Go with that a few times.

Just massaging into the outer hip, into the shoulders. And then try to establish a through line. We say a plumb line through the spine. You're welcome to look up. And then notice here that you kinda get to a point where you're like, I can't go any further.

Reach back and bend your back knee. Grab onto the big toe side of the foot. Soften everything down as if you're gonna sit down. And then expand and lift. String the bow.

This is a variation of half moon. Exhale, soften. In and down. Inhale, rise. Solar energy pressing through the heart.

Down through the hands, through the back thigh. Once more, it's a very powerful pose. Inhale to rise. Lifting, lifting, lifting. And then exhale, release your foot.

Tuck your left knee into the outside of the right foot and sit down. Reach up through the left arm. Simple twist. Turn the spine. Take a moment here.

Slowly unwind. We'll push off the back foot. Hands reach forward. Lift the back leg up and stand. And then bring left foot to right.

Let's go ahead and push off the blocks. Come all the way up to standing. Exhale, hands to namaste. Bringing the hands to the hips or low back. Lift your chest just like you do in camel pose.

Draw the elbows back and the tailbone down. So just feel the tailbone rooting and the heart rising. This is inherent in any back bend. Creating that distance and length. Distributing the back bend throughout the spine.

Big inhale. As you exhale, hinge at the hips. Hands come to the blocks. Release your head and neck. Lift your heart.

And let's enjoy the second side. Again, right leg lifts. Blocks right under the shoulders. Soften through the standing leg and flex right foot. Let's start to lift up through left arm.

Feeling the hips and shoulders kind of counterbalance and rotate a bit. And then finding that steady through line as you reach up. Maybe turn your gaze. Hello. And then grab your back foot.

Softening down. Inhale to lift your thigh, your heart. Exhale, soften. Inhale to lift. Exhale, soften.

Inhale, lift, open, expand. As you exhale, release. Tuck the knee in just to the outside of your left foot. And this feels like dessert coming into this twist out of that standing pose. Sitting nice and tall.

Exhale. Congratulations. You made it through the standing portion of the mat. You made it through the standing portion of this solar practice. We're about to come down onto our box four bridge and wheel progression.

So let's spin around towards the back of the mat. Take your feet out in front of you. Reach your arms out in front of you with your palms face up. Sit tall. Let's slowly roll down, feeling the call of gravity.

And once your back comes down, draw the knees in for just a moment. And then place your feet right below you, hips width apart. Palms pressed. Tuck the tailbone under. Lift up into bridge pose.

So a few options here for our back bending. We can stay right here with the palms flat, the hips lifting, and enjoy this beautiful back bend. Feeling opening through the hip flexors, the quads, the belly, this offering of the heart reaching up towards the sky. You're welcome to lease your fingers and walk your outer shoulders underneath you. If you'd like to come into full wheel, hands are going to reach right down alongside your ears.

Fingers point towards the shoulders. And then let's come up slowly. So the hips are already lifted. Press into your palms. Lift and perch right on the crown of your head.

Elbows draw in. And thighs draw into the midline. From here, press and lift up into your full Urdhva Dhanurasana. I always like to rock a little bit in my first wheel and just kind of massage my way into the posture, maybe walking the hands a little closer to your feet and breathing. And again, this practice is full of postures that are challenging for me personally.

So I really feel this opening in the whole front of my body, breathing into this, relaxing your head and neck, working with what you've got. And just stay in your heart opener for as long as it feels good to you, which is different for everyone. Couple breaths wherever you are, letting the posture work its magic and its healing energy on your whole system. And then slowly lowering back of the head down, back of the shoulders, rolling down your spine, and arriving in happy baby pose. Yay.

This is definitely the dessert. Hang out here and breathe. You're welcome to draw the feet together, soles of the feet, in Baddha Konasana on your back, pressing the elbows into your knees. It'll feel a little different here than classic Baddha Konasana seated. So I'll roll to one side and demonstrate that.

You have the option to stay on your back or to come up. Same thing here. You're welcome to draw the feet together, soles of the feet, on your back or to come up, same posture. We lift through the chest, draw the heart forward and down. And pressing through the outside of the hips, through the outside of the knees, opening up through the soles of the feet.

It's a great place to give yourself a little reflexology with your thumbs into the soles of your feet as you bow in and down. And with each exhale, allowing yourself to soften and descend deep in the shape. One more breath here. And then slowly releasing this shape. If you're seated, we'll come back down onto our backs.

If you're already on your back, stay there. And let's prepare for a plow and shoulder stand, a little inversion, classic closing series. So try not to turn your head left or right for this series. If you'd like to watch for a moment, feel free to do that. And then slowly release this shape.

Reach the legs straight up into the sky, and make sure that you don't have a braid or ponytail, anything obstructing the back of your head so the neck can stay neutral. We'll exhale and press into the palms. Fold your body up and over, and support your low back with your hands. Toes can point, legs stay active. And just breathe here for a moment.

Inhale awesomely. Plow pose. Any hotspots that you might feel on the front of the spine and your navel area, breathe into them. And I always like to lease my fingers and reach the arms long, kind of snuggle my shoulders under me a little bit, before progressing up one leg at a time into shoulder stand. Reaching the balls of the feet through the roof.

Solar energy all the way from the heart, up the core, up the legs, into your feet, radiating through the toes. Stay steady here for 10 breaths. Re-adjusting as necessary, take five more breaths. And then slowly start to lower the legs back into plow halasana, releasing the arms long, using your abdominal strength to slowly roll down your spine, one vertebrae at a time, pressing the arms into the mat, controlling the roll down. Hug the knees into your chest.

Take a simple twist, knees drop over to the right side of your mat, opening the left arm. Breathe. Relax. Let go. Taking it over to the second side, drawing the knees in. Relaxing into second side of the twist. And finally coming back to the center, extend your legs long on the mat, slide your hands right underneath your glutes, preparing for fish pose.

Press down into the forearms, rise up onto your crown, and breathe into your heart and your throat. On your next exhale, release to the back of the head, release your hands out from underneath your hips, and stretch out for shavasana. We'll keep our shavasana concise, so go right into your relaxation here. Start to send a little bit of movement to your fingers and your toes. You're welcome to stay here and continue resting in your shavasana as long as you like.

If you'd like to end with me, stretch your arms over your head, reach your legs long, flutter your eyes open, and exhale, draw the knees into the chest. Roll on over to one side and come on up to a comfortable seated position right in the center of the mat, bringing the hands together at the heart, feeling your radiance, feeling that sunshine that comes from the inside out of all of us. Take a deep breath in, exhale completely. Thank you so much for joining me today, for your enthusiasm, your energy, your effort, and your presence. Wonderful work. Namaste.


Francesca Venturini
Dear Shelley, I just adore practicing with you!! Thank you, so,so, much!
Layla T
2 people like this.
This was SUCH a treat! I absolutely loved the cue to imagine holding your intention in your hand. I feel so sunny and bright and limber after this one. Thank you for a beautiful morning practice! Namaste!
Kate M
2 people like this.
My morning wove together a sunny day, some Vedic chants to the Sun, and this radiant practice! Then it all melted into a deep and restorative śavāsana! Life is good!  : ) Thank you, Shelley : )
Lina S
1 person likes this.
It's always a pleasure to take your classes! I liked when you said to take the time to map the territory (wild thing). Great flowing class with lots of strength and stretching. Thank you!
Shelley Williams
Francesca Venturini Thank you SO much Francesca! Your comment immediately brought a warm smile to my face... thank you for making my day!
Shelley Williams
Layla T Namaste Layla! Yes, it is so powerful to visualize and add meaning to our asana/ flow/ gestures/ life moments.. our hands are extensions of our heart meridians, where our attention goes/ energy flows! Thank you for your kind comment!
Shelley Williams
Kate M Ahhh wow Kate! Adding chanting to a vibrant solar practice, I can't think of anything better!  Wonderful addition and reflection, thank you so much for your sweet comment!! 
Shelley Williams
Lina S So much gratitude for your presence and awareness with these practices... and I so appreciate that you notice the little details. That reflects so much back about your attention and practice ...xoxo!
Sandra Židan
Thank you very much, Shelley, for this beautiful and challenging practice! I've really enjoyed doing it! Namaste! ❤️🥰🌹
lovely start to the mid-morning! reminds me to get back into shoulder stands too. many thanks. :)
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