Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Begin standing with feet hip distance apart and the palms of the hands together at your heart. Inhale as you reach the arms straight out in front of the body and then over head. Open the front of the body by slightly arching the spine. Lift the chin and gaze upward. Bending at the hips, fold forward on the exhalation. Take a deep breath in as you slowly step your left foot back to come into a high runners lunge. Sweep the arms out to the sides and then overhead. Exhale to bring the hands to the floor and step your right foot back (downward facing dog). Feet are a little wider than hip width and your hips and tailbone are reaching up as you lengthen your spine. Secure your upper arms into the shoulder sockets. Inhale as you glide your hips forward bringing them parallel to the earth (plank pose). The entire body is engaged and the limbs extend out from your center.
Slowly begin to lower the body as you exhale (four limb staff pose/chaturanga dandasana). Hug the elbows to the ribs and maintain evenness from the shoulders to the hips. Press through the top of your head and down through the heels of the feet. Inhale as you smoothly transition the chest through your arms into upward facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana). In upward facing dog, the chest opens and lifts as the hands and tops of the feet support you.
Exhale into downward facing dog. As you inhale, step your left foot forward into a high lunge. Sweep the arms out to the sides and overhead. Exhale to bring the hands down and step the right foot forward to meet the left. Slowly float the upper body up to standing. Arms reach overhead and then exhale to join the palms together and rest the thumbs at your heart.
When doing multiple sun salutations, alternate the leading foot with each round (i.e. in the 2nd round, step the right foot back, then forward; lead with the left foot again on the 3rd round, and so on).
* Note: As an alternate to the four limb staff pose, you may place your knees on the ground, feet off the ground and then hug the elbows into the ribs as you lower the upper body to the earth.
Gaze upward and spread the fingers each time you reach the arms overhead. Keep moving; do not pause for long between poses. Use a strong breath to guide you through the salutation.
Stimulates circulation, stretches and strengthens the entire body and builds heat.