7 super poses for a supple body
Many stretches isolate a single muscle or muscle group. And stretching the entire body can take quite a bit of time and energy. Well, there is one yoga exercise that is steeped in a long tradition called the Sun Salutation that stretches the entire body in one sequence.
Today Elena Borkland will share this wonderful exercise with us, one posture at a time so we can master the slow flow giving “salutations to the sun.” It involves some bending and stretching and feels great. Just do what you can and follow along.
Yoga: Sun Salutation 1 – Backward bend stretch
Stand with feet shoulder’s width apart with hands held together, fingers up, at chest level.
Slowly start bending your head backwards, curving your back and raising your hands above your head as you do so. Notice, as your hands raise they follow the path of your curving body, rather than reaching toward the ceiling. You will keep leaning back as far as you can without losing balance.
Yoga: Sun Salutation 2 – Forward bend stretch
As you reach your limit, you will separate your hands so palms face up, as you bend back to an erect position. You will reach your hands as far up toward the sun as possible, stretching your body.
Now continue bending forward from your hips. As you do so your arms will move below your head and shoulders, reaching forward to maintain the stretch and also to aid balance. Keep your legs straight throughout the movement.
Keep bending slowly and reaching downward as low as you can go without pain or loss of balance. If you are able, try to place your palms flat on the floor in front of your feet. Hold for a few seconds.
Yoga: Sun Salutation 3 – Right leg back stretch
Now slowly step back with your right foot as far as you are able to go, ending on the ball of the foot. Slowly arch your back and tilt your head back to look up at the sun.
In this position you will sink your hips down and feel a nice, deep stretch throughout your right leg and hip flexors. Hold for a few seconds.
Yoga: Sun Salutation 4 – Both legs back stretch
Now release the backward flexion and find balance on the floor through the palms of your hands. Step back with your left leg to meet up with your right. Try to keep both feet flat on the floor if you can, pike your hips upward, press back with your hands and feel a nice stretch in your lower back and calf muscles.
Now raise up onto your toes for a second, then return to pushing your heel down into the floor.
Yoga: Sun Salutation 5 – Kneel, sit stretch
Now slowly go to your knees, move your feet off their soles and onto their insteps as you sit back onto your heels. Note that your hands have not moved which thus provides a nice upper back and shoulder stretch as well as a hip flexor stretch in this position.
Hold for a few seconds then lower your arms down onto their forearms.
Yoga: Sun Salutation 6 – Cobra stretch
Now raise your elbows and move your body forward. Keep your chin as low to the ground as you are able as you move into a push-up-like position, wherein your lower and upper body are touching the ground. Again, place the insteps of your feet on the floor.
From here, you will look upward while bending your back so that you are looking up at the sun. Keep flexing your back muscles to coil you backward and upward as much as possible into the ‘cobra’ position.
Repeat movements 5 6 several times.
Yoga: Sun Salutation 7 – Both legs back stretch
Come up onto the balls of your feet again and raise up into the upward position of a push-up. Raise your hips up into a pike position, keeping legs straight, then go back onto our heels to stretch the calves. Now slowly walks your feet forward toward your hands.
Now repeat movement 3, this time with the left leg back.
Do this entire sequence several times as day, several days per week as you are able and experience the shift in your body from tight and restricted to supple and feeling good.