Warming up your body with a little movement can really help you delve into your day with energy and a greater sense of awareness. A great yoga sequence to achieve energy and bodily awareness is a variation of the sun salutation sequence that goes as follows:
1. Mountain Pose
Stand up tall and bring awareness to your feet. Plant them as firmly into the ground as you can. Roll your shoulders onto your back, lift your chin, and breathe. Bring your hands together and towards your heart. Hold for as long as you need to prepare your body and mind for movement.
2. Upward Salute
Inhale deeply and bring your arms out to the side then upward to reach above your head. Look upward so that your gaze follows your fingertips. Keep your shoulders onto your back as you reach upward.
3. Forward Fold
Exhale and bring your arms out to your sides then down, then onto the ground below you as you call for your head to come as close to your legs as possible. Remember that this is merely an invitation for your abdomen to come to your legs, but it is not mandatory. Keep your back straight as your abdomen approaches your legs, bend your knees if needed. If your hands are unable to reach the ground, place your hands on yoga blocks.
4. Halfway Lift
Inhale and lift your abdomen so that it is parallel with the floor. Be sure that your shoulders are back and bring your hands to either your upper thighs, yoga blocks, or the floor if it is accessible to you.
5. Plank Pose
Exhale. From your halfway lift, bring your hands to the ground and step your feet out behind you into a plank position. Your hands should be directly in line with your shoulders and your shoulders should be drawn back. If your body feels up to a little arm strength exercise, proceed to bend your arms while keeping them close to your abdomen for a low plank.
6. Upward Facing Dog
Inhale. If you are in low plank, press your arms up to straighten. Untuck your toes so that the tops of your feet are pressing into the ground, your shoulders are back, and your core muscles are engaged. Sustain this pose for as long as you desire.
7. Downward Facing Dog
Plant your toe mounds into the ground so that you are back in plank pose. Exhale and press through your shoulders, core and hips so that your body forms a triangle with the floor. If the backs of your legs are tight, it may be challenging to straighten your legs in this pose. If needed, bend your knees and sustain the pose or alternate bending one knee and straightening the other the gently peddle out your legs for a gentle stretch.
8. Halfway Lift
Take small steps towards your hands so that your hands and feet are a few inches apart. Inhale and bring your abdomen parallel with the floor and place your hands on yoga blocks, your thighs, or the floor if you are able to.
9. Forward Fold
Exhale and bring your abdomen down towards your legs. Bring your abdomen as close to your legs as feels comfortable. Do not force yourself into a position that is uncomfortable or causes strain, but welcome your body to a stretch that brings your body warmth and a feeling of wellbeing.
10. Upward Salute
Sweep your arms up as you inhale and bring your body to an upward standing position. Lift your chin to tilt your gaze upward.
11. Mountain Pose
Exhale as you lower your arms and bring your palms together and in front of your chest. Your feet grounded into the floor, your gaze forward, you are ready to take on your day. Your mind and body have fully awoken. You are bright, and beautiful, and capable. Walk through your day with confidence, love, and light. Namaste.
A SPECIAL thank you to Caroline Dunham from Vista Yoga, a yoga studio in Decatur, Georgia, for providing the pictures for this blog.