Sun salutations A & B

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!  

The Rocket Gets You There Faster, Says Bobby Weir of the Grateful Dead

Lakeside photos by Tim Bonn of B&B Productions

Rocket Yoga was formulated when Larry Schultz was traveling with the renown rock band, the Grateful Dead. Traditionally, Ashtanga Yoga was taught in a very set sequence where most people would never reach the more advanced arm balances and inversions. Well, Bobby Weir wanted to try the "fun stuff" because he knew the arm balances and inversions looked fun and gratifying. So Larry spent many nights in his room formulating a safe sequence for how to introduce practitioners of all levels, including new beginners to these more advanced postures. He came up with Bottle Rocket, Rocket 1, Rocket 2, and Rocket 3.  

Rocket incorporates a lot of core strengthening.  

Each of the sequences begins with sun salutations A & B which creates a deep heat from within the body. Following the sun salutations is a specific standing series, split series (a key component to the practice), seated series and finishing series. Each posture prepares you for the next building a beautiful balance of both strength and flexibility!  

When Larry formulated the series, he asked Bobby what they should name it and without hesitation Bobby said, "The Rocket." Larry smiled, nodded his head up and down and replied, "I like it, but... WHY?" Bobby laughed a little and said, "because it gets you there faster." It was a very true statement! Between each of the seated postures is some core strengthening and there are always a couple of dolphin poses, which also build core and shoulder strength preparing you for the arm balances and inversions. Within a year of regular disciplined Rocket Yoga practice 5-6 days a week, I was able to do the full splits. Now, I am not able to do them everyday, sometimes if I have not practiced I am immediately more stiff, but at least I know I am capable. The arm balances and inversions are incredibly fun and eventually those turn into your  transitions from one pose to the next flowing with grace. 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching the Rocket practice!!! I Love to see people break the barrier of their fears and conquer things they did not believe were possible. Being upside down is truly terrifying for many people. But we take this very slowly and build up to it safely. You get used to being inverted in high dolphin, you can use the wall and other props, and by all means listen to your body! In the splits series we hold each of the three splits 6-10 breaths allowing the body to slowly sink into its natural stopping point. Each practice may take you a little deeper. Most importantly we practice self acceptance knowing that wherever we are is exactly where we are meant to be. Yoga is a journey. We practice to improve. Many many people will reach full splits in time. For some, it takes longer. For some, based on bone composition, it simply will not be possible, but those folks can still enjoy the practice!  

So hop aboard the Rocket Ship and prepare to take your body places you never thought possible. Take your mind to new levels and ultimately connect the body and mind through the practice creating the best version of yourself!  

I am more than happy to lead privates, semi privates, group and corporate classes! If you have any questions at all please let me know.   

Namaste,

Libby McAvoy

PS - I want to give a big shout-out and thank you to Amber Espelage!  Under her excellent teaching and guidance I became 100 hr certified to teach Rocket Yoga.