(Osho: Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy)
“You have to accept the body; you have to love the body. You have to respect the body; you have to be grateful to your body. The body is the most complex mechanism in existence – it is simply marvelous! And blessed are those who marvel.”
(Osho: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha Volume 2)
“The body is nothing but the visible aspect of the soul, and the soul is nothing but the invisible aspect of the body.”
(Osho: The First Principle)
“When taking a shower, feel it all over the body – every drop of water touching you. Feel the touch, the coldness, the warmth! Try this the whole day whenever you have the chance, and everywhere there is a chance – everywhere! When just breathing, feel the breath – its movement within and its going out – just feel it! Just feel your own body. You have not felt it.
The whole civilization is afraid of anyone touching himself because from childhood touching has been denied. It appears to be masturbatory to touch oneself in a loving way. But if you cannot touch yourself in a loving way your body will go dull and dead. It has gone so. Touch your eyes with your palms.
Feel the touch, and your eyes will feel fresh and alive immediately. Feel your body all over. Feel your lover’s body, your friend’s body. Massage is good. Two friends can massage each other and feel each other’s bodies. You will become more sensitive.”
In this blog, I’ve summarized the Yogathon version of the Sun Salutation series. In addition, I included modified variations for each pose that you may find suit you better. Note that poses in the Sun Salutations differ slightly depending on the style of yoga practice. The nomenclature of the poses may also vary depending on the yoga lineage.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is your personal yoga practice. Respect your body’s limits. Detach yourself from the urge to perform the full variation or the so called “perfect” postures. Take the variation that suits you the most. Enjoy your expression of each posture!
- Pranamasana / Prayer Pose
Stand tall with big toes to touch, slight gap in the heels.
Palms to touch in front of heart center. Relax your shoulders.
Bring your awareness to your feet. Connect with the three points of support on each foot: the base of your big toe, the base of your little toe and your heel.
Gently drawing in the belly to engage your core.
Other variation: Allowing your feet to be hip-width apart will make it easier to balance.
- Urdhva Hastasana / Raised Arms Pose
Inhale, sweep your arms up, reaching your fingertips towards the sky. Gently bend backward as you gaze in between your hands. Actively draw your shoulders down and away from your ears.
Other variations: Avoid bending back if you have lower back or neck issues. Gaze forward if it’s uncomfortable for your neck to look up.
- Uttanasana / Standing forward fold
Exhale, hinge from your pelvis, lift your sit bones, fold forward while engaging your lower abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Feel your back elongating. Avoid rounding your upper or lower back. Palms on the ground on the outside of your feet. If accessible, align your fingertips with your toes.
Other variations: Allow your knees to bend as you fold your torso over your thighs. This is particularly important for those with tight hamstrings and/or lower back problems (which is the case for most of us).
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana / Equestrian Pose
With palms on the ground, on your inhale, bend your left knee as you step your right foot back. Keep your right heel over your toes as you lengthen your back leg. Find a long line of energy from your back foot all the way to the crown of your head, with your head tilting back slightly, chin lifting, and back arching while gazing towards your third eye (i.e. the area in between your eyebrows).
Other variations: Allow your back knee to bend and rest on the ground. Keep your finger tips on the ground instead of your entire palms.
- High plank (note this is a transitional pose)
From equestrian pose, step your front foot back and find yourself in high plank. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart, feet hip-width apart and heels stacked over your toes. Engage your shoulders and firm your abdominal muscles.
Other variations: Take the option to lower your knees to the ground yet still keeping your shoulders and core engaged.
- Chaturanga Dandasana / Four-Limbed Staff Pose
From high plank, shift your shoulders slightly ahead of your wrists. Exhale, use the strength of your entire body, lower down and bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle while keeping them tight against your torso. Maintain a straight line of energy from your heels all the way to the crown of your head. Gaze toward the floor slightly ahead of your hands. Keep your legs active, and core muscles firmed. Avoid dipping the shoulders below elbow level or sticking your hips too high.
Other variations: You may reduce the difficulty of this pose by dropping your knees to the ground before you lower down. Followed by lowering your chest and then chin. Belly and pelvis off the ground, sit bones pointing up.
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana / Upward-Facing Dog
Inhale, lift your pelvis as you shine your chest forward and slightly up. Point the chin up towards the sky. Avoid shrugging your shoulders. Press into your hands, roll your shoulders down and broaden your chest. Avoid compressing your lower back or spaying your heels to the side. Keep the legs active and squeeze the heels in towards your midline.
Other variations: If you took the knee down or knees-chest-chin variation for Chaturanga Dandasana, take the cobra variation for upward-facing dog. Lift up your chest with bent elbows, palms pressing into the ground. Knees and the top of your feet in touch with the ground.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward-Facing Dog
Exhale, lift your hips, sending your sit bones up towards the sky and back towards your heels. With palms shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart, align your arm, shoulder and torso as you extend your legs. Engage your lower abs and pelvic floor muscles. Keep the legs active and find an internal rotation of your thighs to lengthen your hamstring muscles. Gaze towards your naval or in between your feet.
Other variations: Take the option to keep a micro bend in your knees and allow your heels to be off the mat to avoid over stretching your hamstrings.
- Ashwa Sanchalanasana / Equestrian Pose
Inhale, gaze forward, step your left foot forward to return to your variation of equestrian pose.
- Uttanasana / Standing Forward Bend
Exhale, fold deeply without locking your knees or over stretching your hamstrings.
- Urdhva Hastasana / Raised Arms Pose
Inhale, rise as you reach your arms up. Option to take the opportunity to arch your back for a gentle backbend.
- Pranamasana / Prayer Pose
Exhale, lower the hands, palms together in front of heart center.
These 12 poses make up half a round of sun salutation. To complete one full round, repeat the poses one more time making the change to send your left foot backward in pose #4 and step your left foot forward in pose #9.
A healthy practice of the Sun Salutations offers the opportunity to build strength, flexibility and a perfect balance between the two. Connect each movement with mindful breathing and you will gain the benefits of energizing your body, calming your mind and connecting with your inner peace.
Surya Namaskaras or, Sun Salutations as they are more commonly known, are one of the most practiced sequences of yoga postures. In Ashtanga Yoga, five of each Surya Namaskar A and B are used to warm up the body and initiate the buildup of Angi, the inner fire.
During my yoga teacher training in India, I struggled immensely in this part of my daily practice. I dreaded each and every Chaturanga and eagerly looked forward to the end of this torturous sequence. Back then, I did not have the necessary strength required to repeat this Vinyasa flow, causing feelings of immense frustration which triggered my dislike of Sun Salutations further each time. I tried to push myself to continue, only to find my wrists hurting more and more.
That was 9 months ago.
In a month, I will take part in an international Yogathon where I will challenge myself to perform 108 Sun Salutations. How did I end up here you may be thinking – from trying to avoid Sun Salutations to actually committing to a marathon of the sequence?
It all started with a simple spontaneous decision; I saw an advertisement of the Yogathon and I thought why not? I tested the waters and started slowly with just four Sun Salutations and added four more every single day. In the first week, I felt a tremendous boost in my energy level despite how tired I felt after each practice. That’s when I decided to continue and registered myself into the Yogathon Challenge of 108 Sun Salutations that will take place on August 20th, 2016
In addition to the personal benefits of practicing Sun Salutations, the Yogathon #RISEFORACAUSE supports a good cause. This annual event generates awareness and interest in the practice of yoga by challenging participants to complete 108 sun salutations as a symbol of hope to children around the world and to spread the message of universal education for youth by supporting Care for Children, a program dedicated to provide free education for youth in rural India. Participants are not obligated to complete all 108 Sun Salutations – instead, they are encouraged to listen to their bodies, complete as many as they can and most importantly… have fun!
Toronto is the city where the very first Yogathon originated five years ago but it is now practiced around the world. I invite you to check out and participate in a city near you. If you cannot attend this year, you can still show your support by making a donation to give the gift of education at https://www.yogathon.us/donation.
I invite you to follow my exciting journey as I prepare for Yogathon 108 as I continue to share with you my experiences, thoughts and tips for this challenge. Stay tuned and Namaste!
Feng is a Suspension Yoga Instructor at The Flying Yogi
In the last few years there has been a significant increase in different styles of yoga practice. One of these is the high flying Suspension Yoga™ class. Imagine a challenging workout that combines aspects of Yoga, Pilates, Aerial Arts and Strength Training. Your body is suspended in the air while you do yoga and body weight training. An aerial workout is designed to increase strength, mobility, balance and flexibility. A total mind and body workout for those who want to combine fitness with FUN.
A typical Suspension Yoga™ class consists of floor work, aerial strengthening exercises, stretches and relaxation. The equipment used at The Flying Yogi is know as the YogiGym® and consists of a “sling” that is accompanied by 3 sets of handles for easy maneuverability . The apparatus is constructed of soft yet extremely durable recycled parachute material which is ethically made (no Chinese sweatshops ) and suspended from 2 connection points that may be located in the ceiling, inside a door frame, from a tree branch or even off the back of a door!
The YogiGym®, which has a generous foam band inserted on one side of the hammock for maximum comfort during weight-bearing aerial poses, provides support and stability while exercising to allow freedom of movement in a broad range of strength-building, balance awareness, flexibility and core strength moves.
Got a challenging yoga pose that has been troubling you? The YogiGym® is the ideal yoga prop. Through the combined support of both the handles and the sling, you become free to focus your attention on your breath and alignment while gravity helps move you deeper into stretches in a highly controlled and safe manner.
But one of the best, most delicious experiences one can have on the hammock are the suspended inversions that allow the spine to gently decompress. This decompression of the spine and joints actually leaves the body standing taller and is very effective in relieving chronic back and/or joint pain.
Because of the low impact and high support factor, almost all levels of fitness are able to benefit from Suspension Yoga™. It is an ideal fitness program suitable for entire families and ages between 4 – 84 have experienced some high flying-fun at The Flying Yogi.
New to yoga? This is the perfect prop to assist you with the poses and learn them in a stress free manner. During a practice session, expand both your body and mind by trusting in the knowledge that the hammock is there to support you. Every time you practice, challenge yourself to try new poses that you may not ever have been able to perform before such as handstand, headstand, shoulder stand, back bend or Bakasana (Crow Pose). You’d be amazed at all the things you will now find yourself able to do!
Join in any one of our practice sessions by reviewing our online class schedule.
http://theflyingyogi.ca/practice/ .You can also purchase the YogiGym® Suspension Sling and practice Suspension Yoga™ in the privacy of your own home, while travelling or anyplace outdoors stable enough to hang the hammock .
<pictures specifically chosen for article from FY collection)
Over the past 10 months finding new and interesting ways to work out has been a regular part of the lose weight be fit process. One of the additions to my home workouts has become the YogiGym®, using the handles as a means to add TRX styled workouts.
Now traveling and living on a small island off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, there is no GoodLife down the street. Goodlife is easy. Get off your couch and go to the gym. Working out from home, let alone in a tropical country can be difficult
This past January myself and a friend trapped indoors by rain, had to find a way to do some sort of activity. My friend, not used to being cooped up, especially in Mexico, needed to work out! Enter the YogiGym®, some research on Google and we have a workout using the handles and our bodyweight.
Since then the YogiGym® has become a regular part of my workout routine. I created a number of Tabata workouts focused on body weight exercises which included a full body and upper body portion done on the YogiGym®. These have become some of the best workouts I get. For 2 solid days after I can feel the burn.
Using the handles attach your rig to a wall or an open space by a hook.
Different types of exercises require you use the different sized handles. Below is my typical full body workout with the Yogi Gym
Tabata Style (Create images of each with handles / Short video)
Tabata is a form of HIIT in which 20/10 means 20 seconds of all-out exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This adds up to four minutes total. Generally done in 3-5 sets focused on different body groups. The below workout incorporates full body. Modifications can be made to accommodate different levels of strength and fitness.
Standing Roll Out
I repeat for 3 sets doing this routine 2-3 times in a week. Having the YogiGym® makes it so much simpler to modify and complete TRX styled workouts without having to buy additional equipment.
007-245 Carlaw Ave., Toronto ON M4M 2S1 Canada
(647) 993-YOGI (9644)