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SUN SALUTES

.. surya namaskara

 

Surya = Sun |Namasakara = Bow / Surrender / Salutation. The Sun Salutes are rich in symbolism.  Traditionally Surya Namaskar were practices facing the rising or setting sun, opening to and inviting in the solar energy, warming and energising the body and spirit, offering the practice and connecting to the source of light. Our ‘inner sun,’ is seen as the source of light and truth along our life’s path. In Surya Namaskara we are bowing to the truth of who we are in essence. 

 

The Sun Salutations are a combination of poses practiced in series, with each pose successively deepening with every repetition. It is typically performed at the start of the practice and can be viewed as a type of warm-up for the full practice. With modifications and variations, nearly everyone can participate and can help unify the class as everyone breathes and moves largely in unison.

 

There are numerous variations and adaptations of Surya Namaskar. Here we focus on Surya Namaskara A and B as taught in the Krishnamacharya lineage. These introduce different elements of movements to the body, from simple to complex and are models on which to build a full practice, incorporating vinyasa flow, transitions, pose and counterpose. Within each posture, there are many variations and modifications that enable teachers to accommodate the varying abilities, special needs and conditions of different students.

 

There is no ‘sample script’ for these sequences, as you learn and practice teaching we encourage you to develop your own way to cue.

THE POSTURES

ASANA LABS

RESOURCES

      ALIGNMENT cues

 + USEFUL TIPS; 

allow you to UNDERSTAND,  

get up to grips.

o SUN SALUTES

o SIDE BENDS

o BACK BENDS 

o FORWARD BENDS

o TWISTS

o INVERSIONS

o ARM BALANCES

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

  • Rotate thighs internally. You can feel this using a block in between your thighs. Apply pada bandha to accentuate this further. 

  • Never overly squeeze the buttocks, instead soften the upper fibers of your gluteus max, which in contracting will externally rotate and abduct the thighs and thereby putting pressure on the SI joint at the base of the spine. 

  • Posteriorly tilt the pelvis. This action will draw more length into the lumbar spine, reducing pressure on the lower intervertebral disks and help share the backbend up the spine - bring front bony hip points toward the front ribs. 

  • Create length through the spine to allow greater spinal extension. 

  • Focus the backbend in the thoracic spine*

  • Add extension to cervical spine last or allow your neck to stay neutral.

  • Draw lower tips of shoulder blades in and up towards the heart further opening the chest. 

  • Lift the sternum up - increasing expansiveness.

  • Keep the breath steady and soft. 

 

TYPES OF BACK BENDS

CONTRACTION BACKBENDS

The back muscles concentrically contract to over come gravity.

TRACTION BACKBENDS

Muscles in the front body eccentrically contract to overcome gravity.

LEVERAGE BACKBENDS

The arms and legs press against an unmovable object (floor, wall or other part of body) to stretch the front of the body. 

 

Within each of these the humerus may be in extension/flexion requiring different areas of engagement or release through the shoulder girdle:

 

SHOULDER FLEXION BACKBENDS 

Flexion requires the rhomboids, lats, pecs and triceps to release.

SHOULDER EXTENSION BACKBENDS

Extension of the arms requires the scapula to be stabilised by the rhomboids, lower traps and serratus anterior while the pecs must release.

CLASS INTEGRATIONS

o Deep and sustained backbends are best sequenced as peak of a practice when the body is warmest and most prepared.

o Start with active contraction or traction backbends before moving to leverage backbends. 

o Open the quadriceps, hip flexors, inner thighs, which contribute to greater hip flexion. 

o Open shoulders, lats, pecs and rhomboids, to prepare the shoulders for safe flexion in backbends. 

o Open shoulders, pecs for shoulder extension

o Use gentle twists for initial counterposing, then move into deeper forward bends, hip openers and deeper twists. 

o Core integration after backbends will help stabilise the lower back. 

o Backbends are energetic, so allow time to neutralise and calm afterwards, especially in the evening.  

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