Grand County Health and Fitness " Yoga: Start with the Sun Salutation
One often hears about the many benefits of yoga, among them are strength, flexibility and building muscle.
But for those who feel intimidated by yoga classes, starting some simple exercises at home will be extremely beneficial. Margaret Strom, owner and director of Mountain Moon Yoga, encourages everyone to practice yoga, and for those who are not yoga-savvy, she recommends a simple exercise one can do every morning in the
privacy of their own home.
The exercise is called, Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar), which stems from greeting the sun every morning to start the day. It usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes, and only requires a yoga mat.
“All systems in the body are activated,” Strom said of the exercise. “It builds up body strength, and maintains and builds bone density. It stretches and strengthens the muscles, supports balance, puts range of motion in your hips.”
The list goes on and on.
But what is important during this exercise, Strom stressed, is where and how it is conducted. Turn off the phone, the TV ” anything that’s distracting.
“Create an environment, and dedicate time for yourself.”
And most importantly: Breathe. When doing any type of yoga, it is essential to feel your body breathe, or, as Strom puts it, “Connect with your breath.”
– Stand erect with your feet hip-width apart and parallel to one another. Join your palms in prayer position in front of your chest, with your elbows pointed downward. (Exhale)
– Slowly raise your arms over your head, releasing your hands. Keeping your head between your arms, palms facing each other, bend slightly backward. (Inhale)
– Bend forward from your hips. Place the palms of your hands on the floor beside your feet. Bend your knees if necessary. (Exhale)
– Stretch your right leg behind you. Reset your right knee on the floor and curl your toes under your feet. Your left foot is stationary between your hands, with you chest touching your left knee. Arch your back, open your chest and look up toward the ceiling. Hold. (Inhale)
– Straighten your right knee and bring your left leg back so that both feet and legs are together, toes under. Straighten your arms so that your body forms a straight incline, as in a push-up position. (Hold in)
– Lower your knees, chest and chin to the floor with your buttocks up in the air. (Exhale)
– Slide forward, lowering your hips and abdomen to the floor. Uncurl your toes, raise your head, neck, and chest into the Bhujangasana (Cobra) position. The lower part of your body remains on the floor. (Inhale)
– Curl your toes under once again. Raise your hips until your arms and legs are straight, forming a triangle with your body and the floor. Keep elbows straight, shoulders relaxed. Keep your head between your arms and your feet flat on the floor. Your back is straight. (Exhale)
– Take a long step forward, placing your right foot between your hands. Lower your left knee to the floor, raise your head to look toward the ceiling. (Inhale)
– Step forward with your left leg, bringing the left foot beside the right. Place your hands, palms down, beside your feet. Straighten your legs and bring your ribs and chest down along your legs. (Exhale)
– Reach out with your arms and lift to standing position, stretching your arms straight overhead. Look at your fingers. (Inhale)
– Lower your arms back to prayer position in front of your chest and then down to your sides. (Exhale)
– Repeat the entire sequence leading with the left leg. This completes one round of the Sun Salutation.
(This information was provided by a Kripalu Yoga sheet.)
The Sun Salutation is usually a yoga exercise done before doing other daily yoga exercises, but for those just getting started, it’s a good way to start the day.
“This exercise can change your whole day. It clears your mind,” Strom said. “And, it helps you be in the present.”
Margaret Strom, RYT, is nationally certified. She has a B.A. in Psychology and completed graduate school in Natural Resource Management. She has been teaching yoga for 11 years and uses her knowledge of asana and human physiology to guide students to that place of comfort and peace within their own body.
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