Like many people, I’m a habitual creature when I first wake up. Sometimes I think we need habit to save us from ourselves in those first few groggy moments of the day (or at least until I find where I left my glasses this time). Also like many people, I’m stiff in the morning. Fortunately, I do have a really good tool in my kit for this that I use everyday, call it yoga’s morning coffee: Awareness of Breath and Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation). If you have 5-7 minutes and a willing heart and mind, it’s yours to use too. Yoga’s nonexclusive like that.
The key component as always is the breath. If you’re ever unsure of where to start in yoga, always begin by bringing awareness to your breath. The lips are sealed. What is the temperature? Is the pace fast or slow? Does it feel narrow or very round? Is it restricted? Where do you feel your breath in your body? Don’t judge any of these things as good or bad, and notice where you are at the present moment without any anxiety about what it means.
Next, start to lengthen the inhales and exhales. Try inhaling for 4 counts, and then exhaling for 4 counts—you can expand it more if you wish. Constrict the back of the throat slightly so that you can hear your own breath. Consider this thought: Each time you inhale, your body takes that breath, filters it, breaks it down into the essential components it needs to use, and sends those where needed. When you exhale it gets rid of all of the junk that is no longer necessary. It does all of this without conscious thought for much of our lives, which is crazy and amazing. In yoga practice, we become conscious of the breath’s power, and every breath you take becomes an opportunity to bring in new possibility and life, and to let go of something that you don’t need anymore.
The more you exhale, the deeper the next inhale can be. And so the more that you are willing to let go, the more possibility there will be.
What a beautiful reality to live in.
So as you allow yourself to melt into the rhythm of breath, it becomes linked with movement in Surya Namaskar where that breath will initiate and guide each and every movement.
Surya Namaskar warms the muscles and links breath to movement, but it is also a way of expressing gratitude for the sun as the source of all life on the planet. This ancient practice exists in many theologies, but also in everyday life. Have you ever lifted your face toward the summer sun to feel its warmth? In taking a moment to appreciate the way it felt on your skin, you performed a kind of sun salutation. In yoga practice, sun salutations can act as a way to prepare the body for asana practice, or be an entire practice as-is. Investing in this time to link your mind, body, and breath improves concentration, focus, and (most importantly for me) patience.
This video will guide you through the breath and movement for a variation of the classical sun salutation. If you have any questions, or are in need of a modification, please feel free to post in the comments and I will do my best to assist you.
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Ciao for now,