Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Standing with feet hip-distance apart and the palms together at your heart, inhale as you reach your arms up and overhead. Gaze up or at the horizon with a slight arch to the spine. Bending at the hips, fold forward with a straight back on the exhalation. On the inhalation, slowly step your left foot back to a high runner’s lunge. Sweep the arms forward and overhead. Exhale to bring the hands to the floor and step your right foot back (Downward Facing Dog). Feet are slightly wider than hip-width and your sacrum is moving upward as you lengthen your spine. Relax your shoulders away from the ears. Inhale as you bring your shoulders directly over your hands, hips forward and parallel to the ground (Plank Pose). The entire body is engaged, and your core is strong.
Slowly begin to lower the body as you exhale (Four-Limbed Staff Pose/Chaturanga Dandasana). Hug the elbows to the ribs and maintain a sense of evenness from the shoulders to the hips. Inhale as you smoothly transition forward, moving the chest through the space between 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 forward and overhead. Exhale to bring the hands down and step the right foot forward to meet the left. With a straight back, bring the upper body up to standing. Arms reach overhead and on the exhale palms come together with thumbs at your heart.
When doing multiple Sun Salutations, alternate the leading foot with each round. (For example, in the second round, step the right foot back, then forward; lead with the left foot again on the third round, and so on.)
* Note: As an alternate to Chaturanga Dandasana, place your knees on the ground and then hug the elbows into the ribs as you lower your chest to the ground.
* Note: As an alternate to the Four-Limbed Staff Pose, you may place your knees on the ground, then hug the elbows into the ribs as you lower the upper body to the ground.
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.
Stretches and strengthens the entire body, stimulates circulation, and builds heat.