Good Morning class.
I always wanted to say that. Actually, that's a fib. I used to say that to my little swim class. But that was so so so long ago. Eons ago. Oh dear.
Today I will break down the half sun salute. I always do this a few times nice and slow before I start the full salute. It helps to warm up the arms and back.
It goes like this:
Stand, hands at heart center
Inhale arms up to mountain pose
exhale dive forward to forward fold
inhale to flat back
exhale to forward fold
inhale arms all the way up
exhale hands to heart center
Trust me, it's so not complicated.
Heart Center – Stand, palms together at your heart. Shoulders relaxed. Crown lifted.
Now deep inhale, arms reach up. Fill the chest with air. Shoulders relaxed, shoulder blades back. I lift my chin up, others lift their face up, what ever is comfortable for you. Mountain pose is deceptively active. Not a resting pose. All muscles are engaged in reaching upward. Quads tighten so the knees lift, arms are reaching, tailbone is tucked under, core is engaged. I feel a stretch up the sides of my ribs, from my waist to my arm pits. You are actively reaching toward the sky, tall as a mountain.
Exhale and dive forward. I've seen people do this two ways. One is to extend the arms straight in front of you as you fold down. The other is to stretch your arms to the side. The first is useful if you are in a full class and will knock the person next to you if you go to the side. If there is room, I prefer my arms to the sides. It provides me a greater stretch and is nice for opening the chest.
My feet are rooted to the floor, chin juts forward, rear sticks out, keep the back straight. Fold completely forward, arms should hang down, neck relaxed and head hangs down. Touch your toes if you can.
From the forward fold, inhale to flat back. Look in front of you, reach forward to make your back flat. Hence the flat back pose. 🙂 This can mean you put your hands on your knees or shins if you need to. Keep shoulders relaxed, reach the crown of the head forward. I always feel a good stretch in my back, below my shoulder blades and in my waist.
Then exhale back to forward fold.
Inhale arms all the way up to mountain. Open arms wide in take a deep inhale. Do not pause at mountain, (unless you want the stretch) exhale to heart center.
*This is important. If you have a weak back, as I do, this can cause stress in the low back. To protect your back, slightly bend your knees and tuck the tailbone under. It is super important to keep the core engaged as you stand all the way up. You should feel this mostly in your core, NOT your back.* Capeesh?
Ok, that's the half salute. Start nice and slow. Maybe take a few breaths at each pose. As the body warms up and muscles relax maybe move a bit faster. Move with the inhale and exhale of your breath.
One more thing, it is important to keep your shoulders from crowding your ears. Keep shoulders relaxed and down. Try this: Sit up straight, crown of the head reaching up, spine straight. See how your shoulders are reaching down? Now, hunch your back and bring shoulders to the front, roll them up to your ears and down to the back. Your chest should be slightly forward, shoulder blades close together, squeezing together in the back. Now reach your arms up beside your ears. Are your shoulders still rolled back? Now put your shoulders to your ears. Not as comfortable? Now shoulders back. This is how it should be and it will keep your back and shoulder muscles engaged for a strong back. (don't stick your chin out either.)
Alright, that's enough for now. Let me know if I confused the snot out of you (clean it up first though), have a question, or need more detail.
Next up: Plank, Chaturanga, Upward facing dog, AND Downward facing dog. Don't forget to come back!