8 Limbs of Yoga

Demystifying Sun Salutations

Yes sun worshiping is real and it is actually very logical, as well as being an ancient practice. In yoga you hear about Sun Salutations, or the Sankrit term, Surya Namaskar. Surya is sun. Nama means to bow to or adore. We stand at the front of our mat with our hands together at our hearts center in the same position as we typically start and end our practice with namaste mudra, which translates into the divine light in me honors and sees the divine light within you. So, as we move through the Sun Salutations we take our arms up toward the heavens and then we bow forward turning our awareness inward and committing to our health and to our higher awareness. With each movement we aspire to gain wisdom and knowledge and to become the best versions of ourselves. It really is a prayer in motion.

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

Sun Salutation A, Surya Namaskra A

There are 12 postures within a Sun Salutation, which is also symbolic because there are 12 Sanskrit terms for the word sun. Moving through these 12 postures in consecutive sequence in repetition warms & energizes the  body. Sun Salutations engage the core, stretch the hamstrings and loosen the shoulders. They improve circulation, massage internal organs and promote overall health. So you can use sun salutations as an excellent warm up, or start to your yoga or workout session. Or when you are short on time and energy, it can be used as your minimum daily go to for giving you a total body workout. 

Sun Salutations can be beautifully adapted for your personal needs and can even be done from a chair.  When practiced at a slower pace they provide a calming grounding effect, and when practiced at a faster pace they provide a good cardiovascular workout and can provide weight loss. 

Why start the day day with Sun Salutations? Yoga was developed over 5000 years ago by ancient Sages in India who believed each part of the body was linked to some part of the natural world. The solar plexus (located behind the belly button) is said to be connected to the sun and associated with our emotional well being and intuition. We practice Sun Salutations first thing in the morning to clear our minds, gain calmness for the day ahead and to heighten our intuition. 

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Then move on to Sun Salutations B to create more heat continuing with 3-5 B's

Lets face it, we all love a little sunshine. It feels good and makes us happy. The sun grows our fruits, vegetables and flowers. It also creates light, and as we know that light helps us conquer our fears, so salute the sun. Practice Sun Salutations each day and feel yourself growing stronger, your light illuminating brighter and the warmth glowing within you. Make time for this important practice every single day. It only takes 15-20 minutes to do a proper 3-5 Sun Salutations A and Sun Salutations B sequence and you will greatly appreciate the many benefits that you will discover through this practice. 

Sun Salutation A:

Inhale taking your arms up

Exhale bowing forward

inhale halfway up straight spine

exhale hands to earth, step back to plank and lower yoga push up

inhale upward dog

exhale downward dog (hold 3-5 breaths)

       ~work to get your heals toward the earth 

       ~relax your ears between your arms

        ~let all the busy thoughts of the day and week go as you breathe in through your nose & out through your nose

Inhale look to your thumbs

Exhale to the front of the mat 

Repeat 3 to 5 times

Sun Salutation B:

Inhale sweep arms down and up as you come into chair pose 

Exhale forward fold straightening legs

Inhale halfway up, look to horizon

Exhale hands to earth and hop back to Chaturanga (yoga push up)

Inhale heart to the sky

Exhale hips up and back to down dog 

Inhale right foot to right thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog

Inhale Left Foot to Left Thumb, Warrior One

Exhale Down Dog stay here and re connect with your breath

Relax your neck & shoulders

Consider scissoring your heels, pressing one heel at a time to the earth and lifting the opposite heel

Inhale look to your thumbs

exhale hop to the front of your mat

Repeat 3-5 times

Wishing you all an inspiring start to your week!

Shine On,

Libby

P.S. If you have questions about how to get started in your practice, how to modify postures or if you would like personal, private or corporate lessons, please contact me via email: libby@yogafitboutique.com. I would be happy to travel and I always love to connect. Namaste!  

Basic Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy and Why Yoga Improves Your Life

For most people yoga starts as a simple physical practice on the mat, and for some that is all it will ever be. But for many it becomes a way of life and an answer to many prayers. The 8 limbs of Yoga, as expressed in the Yoga Sutras of Sri Panatnjali, were laid out as the foundation for living a spiritual life. They are simply a way to deepen your awareness that is created on the mat and integrate it into every aspect of your life raising your conciousness and ultimately becoming the best version of yourself.  

You were created to be happy, to be joyful and to be divine love. But the truth is that we live in a world that is glorified by being overly busy, possessing too much STUFF and we are pulled in way too many directions. As a result, too many people do not even know who they really are. They are so busy doing, doing, doing that at the end of the day there is no time or energy left for self reflection and discovery. Yoga can solve this dilemma by creating focus, purpose, calm, and good energy in your life.

The 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga are as Follows:

1. Yamas: eithical standards how we conduct ourselves in life.  There are five Yamas.

I will break each Yama down in more detail on our Yoga Fit Boutique members only page on the website. You can become a member for free simply by signing up for our newsletter using the form in the side column of this blog on desktop, or at the bottom if you are on a mobile device (member benefits include early access to articles, new yoga classes, workshops, retreats and specials).

            a. Ahimsa: non violence

            b. Satya: truthfulness

            c. Asteya: nonstealing, non hoarding

            d. Brahmacharya: moderation

            e. Aparigraha: Non covetousness

2. Niyamas: self discipline or spiritual observances.  

            a. Saucha: cleanliness

            b. Santosha: contentment

            c. Tapas: fiery heat

            d. Svaydhyaya: self study

            e. Isvara Pranidhana: surrender to God

3. Asana: The physical practice of the postures (yoga poses) on the mat.

4. Pranayama: The practice of breath control.  There are many types, but this is the understanding that your breath is your life force.

5. Pratyhara: Withdrawl from sensories, or the ability to step out of the body and mind and simply observe free from judgment.

6. Dharana: Concentration on a single object.

7. Dhyana: Meditation, quieting the mind, letting go.

8. Samadhi: Ultimate enlightenment or connection with the universe and God.

You can imagine how using these basic techniques can improve the quality of your life.  Again, take it gradually and use what works for you. My personal experience is that the longer I practice, the more I begin to truly embrace each of these qualities.  I have become far less reactive to conflict, I am much more confident in my decisions, I do not live in fear and I do not want as much of the clutter in my life that I once tolerated in my younger years.  Even for me, it is a process and it will continue.  WE can always grow and get better. That is what "the practice" is all about.... It is a journey! So, trust the process, let go of all the worry and drama, and live each day of your life with divine love the way you were intended to live.  You will soon see dramatic affects. 

Namaste,

Libby

PS -  Register for my next 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training Program, which begins October 28th.  This course provides a comprehensive understanding of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, plus so much more whether you choose to instruct or just deepen your own understanding and practice.