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Sun Salutations: Tips & Tricks.

Posted by Katarina Tavcar on
Sun Salutations: Tips & Tricks.

Sun Salutations. Surya Namaskar. That flow that makes an appearance in almost every vinyasa yoga class and if you’ve been coming to my live yoga classes on Melon&Lime Instagram Live every Monday at 6 pm, chances are you’ve heard me say some of these exact phrases week after week.

So let’s break down this sequence and get into the details to keep your practice safe and enjoyable.

Inhale: Mountain Pose / Tadasana

Stand tall with your arms next to your body, palms facing forward. Soften the ankles, the knees, and the hips but reach up through the crown of your head, like you’re trying to grow taller until you find that connection between the ribs and the pelvis. With the softness and strength reach your arms overhead on the inhale, look towards your palms.

Nugget: Stay grounded but soft through the bottom part of the body and strong through the upper part.

Exhale: Standing Forward Bend / Uttanasana

Exhaling, bend the knees and fold forward from the hips all the way down. Bend your knees as much as you need to in order to really fold over your thighs.

Nugget: Straight legs are so overrated. Make sure your spine feels good while you’re here (in this pose and on this earth).

Inhale: Standing Half Lift / Ardha Uttanasana

On the inhale, lengthen the spine and really make your spine long. Imagine pressing back with your sit bones and reaching forward through the crown of your head. Bring your hands either to your thighs, your shins, or keep them on the floor—keep them in whichever position that you can keep your spine really elongated.

Nugget: Imagine like you’re trying to actively sweep your feet backward so your legs are actually really strong.

Exhale: High Plank to Low Plank / Phalakasana to Chaturanga Dandasana

On the exhale step back to plank.

From here you have two options.

Option one: Bring your knees to the floor and move through cow pose (inhale, open the chest, look forward), cat (exhale, round the spine, the head comes down), and another cow.

Option two: Keep that connection between your lower ribs and your pelvis and bring your knees, chest, and chin to the floor. 

Option three: From plank, keep your elbows in, pressing back through your heels and pressing forward through the top of your head either lower down halfway and then continue to the next step or lower down—with control—all the way to the floor.

Nuggets: Find a variation that works for you today. It might be different than the day before or the week before. Also, when you’re in plank, imagine like you’re doing a plank between two walls that are closing in (sorry for this scary image!) and you’re trying to press away through the crown of your head as well as the soles of your feet really hard. The harder you press the easier it’ll be to lower all the way down to the floor with control (and the walls won’t close in, yay).

Inhale: Cobra (Bhujangasana) or Upward-facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana)

Keep your palms under your shoulders and on the inhale press the tops of your feet and your pubic bone into the floor, find the connection between the ribs and the pelvis, and lift the chest slightly into baby cobra, opening up the shoulders and looking forward.

If your body feels like it wants more you can really try pressing through the tops of your feet and lift your knees and your hips off the floor, opening up the chest, shoulders move away from your ears, gaze forward in an upward-facing dog.

Nugget: Choose a variation that is kind to your lower back and your shoulders. You can always try up dog but if it feels iffy in your lower back first try to really, really press through the tops of your feet and bring your lower ribs and pelvis slightly closer to each other so your belly protects your back. If that is not much better, lower down to cobra (that is btw a super cool pose and more than enough).

Exhale: Downward-facing Dog / Adho mukha svanasana

In cobra or up dog, make sure your hands are a little wider than your shoulders, your fingers are spread out and you're lifting the middle bit of your palm slightly (kind of like you’re gently “grabbing” the mat). Then either step or rollover your toes, press your chest back, lift your hips and come into a down dog.

Keep your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees (a little or a lot), and instead of trying to bring your keeps onto the floor, lift them up and focus on getting your sit bones hiiiigh and your chest towards your thighs. Find your position and breathe. 

Nugget: Heels on the floor are so last year. Rather focus on a loooong spine, keeping the weight off your hands and shoulders (by pressing the chest back) and lifting your bum towards the sky. Experiment with hand and feet variations and see what works best for you.

InhaleStanding Half Lift / Ardha Uttanasana

From down dog, step forward and halfway lift on the inhale, really lengthening the spine and sending the sit bones back again.

Nugget: Your chin stays slightly tucked, the neck is the elongation of the spine. And that walk forward? You can do one step or a few, you can jump or float forward, whatever works today. Instead of walking the feet forward, you can also walk the hands back to your feet.

ExhaleStanding Forward Bend / Uttanasana

Exhale to fold over your legs, knees bend.

Nugget: Bent knees, bent knees..oh and have I mentioned bent knees?

Inhale: Mountain Pose / Tadasana

Come all the way up to standing on an inhale, arms overhead. Lift your heart up as your arms reach back if that feels good.

Nugget: Stability and ease.

Exhale: Samastitihi

Exhale, bring your hands to your heart, fingertips touching. Close your eyes, notice your breath, the Earth beneath you, the sky above you, and the love inside you.

Nugget: You are enough.


Katarina Tavčar

Katarina Tavcar Yoga teacher

Dreamer, creator, lover, yogi.

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