Sun Salutations are a common and traditional way to begin a yoga practice. Some yogis believe that the sun represents the physical and spiritual heart of the world, and so Sun Salutations can be viewed as a way to give thanks for a new day filled with life-giving light and sustenance.
Sun Salutations can be developed as a morning ritual, a way to wake up energized and with purpose, to build our Tapas- burning enthusiasm for the day ahead, and they can also be a practice in and of themselves. Sun Salutations are a circular series of movements, starting and ending in the same place.
Here are some reasons to start your yoga practice, and your day, with sun salutations:
1. They Help Warm Up the Body
Sun Salutations are heating. Waking up and doing a couple will ensure warm and well working muscles and joints for the rest of the day.
2. Sun Salutations Will Loosen You Up
Sun Salutations are a great way to limber up joints and muscles to start the day.
3. They Help Stretch Major Muscle Groups
Practicing Sun Salutations provides stretches for the hamstrings, frontal abdominals, psoas, and calves to name a few. These are areas that can always use some extra love.
4. Sun Salutations Are Great for Strengthening the Core
By passing through Vinyasas and Plank Pose, Sun Salutations will help you develop deep core strength.
5. Calm the Mind
With enough practice, the repetitive movement of Sun Salutations can become a moving meditation. When the body makes a muscle memory of the sequence, the ease in which Sun Salutations are performed becomes freeing and meditative.
6. Help Acknowledge the Breath
By syncing each breath with a pose or movement, Sun Salutations help yoga practitioners really harness a greater awareness of the breath. This also helps to learn how to control and focus the breath for sustained periods of time. In this way, Sun Salutations can become a sort of Pranayama practice, too.
7. Creative Freedom
Sure there are the more traditional variations of Sun Salutations, but for yoga practitioners and instructors, they are a really great excuse to get creative. Throw in different lunge variations or handstands. The basic sequence can stay the same, but there’s a ton of room to add your own flare!
Try a few sun salutations every morning! See how it can improve your mood and your life!
Image credit: Elizabeth Ervin Photography / Yogini: Lauren Rudick