Are you ready for some core work? Because this will do it for you.
If you are looking for a more vigorous sun salute, just integrate a few extra movements and poses. The sun salute is the very basic structure and it is so very super easy to introduce some extra stuff when you are looking for that extra oomph. (I always did like that word. oomph.)
Ok, you remember the downward facing dog, right? We will now integrate some leg movements to create some awesome core action.
Make sure you are in a stable and grounded down dog. On the inhale, lift the left leg off the mat, straight up behind you. My apartment only has so much room so I'm not stretched as much as I like to be in the picture. (you should see the bruise I got from swinging my leg up the first time. ow.) Get that leg up in the air, reach up up up. Press back, lean back with the hips, keep shoulders relaxed and away from the ears.
Now with the leg still on the ground, bend the right knee. The hips will sink down but don't sit, keep reaching back with the hips. Keep that leg up up up in the air reaching back. This is position 1.
On the exhale straighten the right leg bring the left leg through and touch left knee to right elbow. When you do this, tighten up that core. Use the core muscles to get the knee to that elbow. Go slow, don't just go swinging your leg around. Control is key. Besides, if you go swinging your leg around you'll go off balance, fall over, and hurt yourself. 🙂
I do 5 reps nice and slow and hold the 5th rep for 5 seconds. After the 5th rep reach the left leg back up in the air, get a nice stretch up through the hip, then return to down dog will all limbs on the ground. Breath here for at least 3 breaths. Stretch the hips back, take full advantage of this resting pose. Then get that other leg up in the air and repeat the other side.
This set fits nicely into your sun salute anytime you do the downward facing dog. I typically do a sun salute 3-5 times, integrating different poses into each one as my muscles get warmed up. I would start this in on the third salute and continue it in the progression until the cool down.
Now go out and yoga!