Traditionally performed in the morning to greet the new day, the yoga sun salutation series warms up the body and prepares it for practice. While this flow successfully targets large muscles and brings the mind to a singular focus, it does so primarily in the sagittal plane. When you add movements that address the frontal and transverse planes, sun salutations become a functional warm-up for any class, including circuit, step, dance and strength. Bare feet are not required!
Sun salutations, often as complex as they are beautiful, can be a complete practice in themselves. Alternatively they can be used as the opening segment of any yoga practice, to set the rhythm and mood of the poses that follow.
newsletter_teaser: Sun salutations, often as complex as they are beautiful, can be a complete practice in themselves. Alternatively they can be used as the opening segment of any yoga practice, to set the rhythm and mood of the poses that follow.
A classic salutation is really a group of individual asanas performed as one complete and repeating series, or vinyasa. Performed correctly, the flowing movements can appear easy. However, each pose has specific alignment requirements that are essential in order to achieve the benefits of the sequence without injury or strain.
For years, yoga has supported my career as a b-girl (breakdancer) and professional contemporary and hip-hop dancer. From this stable foundation, I’ve built strength, grace, balance and power. The following sequence—which blends dance, yoga and footwork drills—has the basic structure of a hip-hop class. The combination gives participants a unique cardio experience while safely building flexibility and increasing upper-body and core strength.
Even in childhood I had a philosophical bent. I distinctly remember sitting at the dinner table with my twin brother and discussing with him why the dog could eat hamburger and it became “dog,” whereas we could eat hamburger and it became “us.” An interesting question for a couple of 9-year-olds to pursue. Sadly, we never figured it out.
By my early 20s I had taken up the study of yoga, and my worrisome won- dering about the big questions of mean- ing and purpose in life was becoming more refined. Now I really wanted to “understand” what life was all about.
Interesting findings about the impact of starting a yoga practice on sleep issues and inflammation markers have resulted from a study of 200 female breast cancer survivors. Fatigue and sleep problems pose significant challenges for these women.
“This [study] showed that modest yoga practice over a period of several months could have substantial benefits for breast cancer survivors,” said lead study author Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology at The Ohio State University in Columbus, in an OSU news release.
By my early 20s I had taken up the study of yoga, and I really wanted to “understand” what life was all about. Soon I realized that I couldn’t figure it all out by thinking, and my questioning became more practical: How was I going to act in this life? What choices would I make? It is said that the only things we really own are our actions, and if that was the case, I wondered, what exact principles could I use to guide my actions in my everyday life?
newsletter_teaser: By my early 20s I had taken up the study of yoga, and I really wanted to “understand” what life was all about. How was I going to act ? What choices would I make? What principles could I use to guide my actions in my everyday life? One of the biggest helps to me in this search for how to live well was the discovery of the five yamas of Patañjali.
Students come to a restorative class to let go of the stresses of everyday life—including the need to do things right and the constant pressure to improve or to achieve. The teacher who understands that motivation can provide a yoga practice that goes well beyond a few relaxing stretches and gives students permission to truly let go.
Good news to share with clients who worry that if they don’t practice yoga daily, they won’t get results: Attending yoga class just once a week can provide positive, measurable help for people with low-back pain.
A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/658030) reported that weekly yoga classes were as effective as twice-weekly classes for relieving low-back pain in low-income minority participants.