Spring is a time of renewal, an emergence from the cocoon of winter. Just as we throw open the doors to air and clean our homes, we shed the cloaks of heavy winter clothing, emerging to the lengthening light of spring. Through the practice of yoga we awaken the slumber of winter to invigorate our bodies, our minds, our spirits. Deep breathing clears the cobwebs from our lungs, awakening our brains, revitalizing our blood and tissues, while deep movement generates strength in our muscles, mobility in our joints. Breath and movement combine to bring radiant, cleansing energy to the whole of the body as only yoga does.
Cleansing the body after the nurturing foods and hibernation of winter is a natural process. Like a long and luxurious stretch the body longs to release the weight of winter and dance into the lightness of spring. Salutations to the Sun (Surya Namaskar) are a fun, cleansing, and energizing way to begin your day. Surya Namaskar tones and strengthens all the muscles of the body, strengthens the joints, aids in weight loss, massages the internal organs, brings a glow to the skin, improves brain function and so much more. This flow takes only a few minutes, packs up neatly for travel, and requires no equipment but your own body and awareness. Let's begin.
Find a quiet place, outside or indoors if it's still a bit cool outside.
Unfurl a yoga mat and stand at the top end gazing in the direction of the rising sun.
Feel the feet as they connect to the earth, bring the hands together at the heart center, lift the heart and feel the head floating atop the spine.
Tune into the breath and begin to cultivate a deep and rhythmic conscious movement of breath through the body to anchor your practice.
On an inhalation bring the arms above the head, lengthening and stretching the spine.
Keeping that length, exhale and fold forward bringing the heart center down the legs and the head towards the earth.
Inhale and rise to a halfway lift, lengthening from the tailbone through the crown of the head, fingers touching the mat or the shins.
Slide the right leg to the back of the mat with the top of the foot on the mat and the drop knee down.
Press the base of the fingers and thumb down into the mat and rise up out of the shoulders, reaching through the crown of the head.
On your next exhalation, lift though the hips and core sending the left leg to the back of the mat with the feet separated hip width.
Elevate the sits bones, pressing the heels towards the earth as you draw the spine long, rolling broadened shoulders towards hips.
Take a few breaths here in downward facing dog.
Exhale and drop down onto hip width knees, forearms on the mat and sit back onto the heels.
Take a few breaths here in Child's pose.
Inhale and lift to a table top position with back flat, wrists under shoulders and hips under knees.
Exhale and shift the weight forward so that the heart is lifting, the hips drifting towards the earth, the tops of the feet on the mat.
Rise up out of the shoulders and extend through the crown of the head.
Take a breath or two here in upward facing dog.
Exhale and press back to downward facing dog. Breathe here.
Gaze forward to the front of the mat and inhaling, follow the gaze with a light step of the right foot between the hands.
Breathe here, lifting heart center and softening shoulders as the left knee and foot are still extended back on the mat.
Inhale and lightly step the right foot to the front of the mat, lengthen the spine in the half lift then carry that length into a forward fold, exhaling.
Inhale and roll up from the base of the spine, bring the hands above the head, touching palms together bring them to the heart center.
That's one side! Now, do that again beginning with the left side and you'll have a full round of Salutations to the Sun!
Happy awakening to Spring!