Sun Salutations: no matter what you currently practice or have in the past, there is a solid chance that you have done your fair share of these methodic movements.
Sun Salutations are full of ups, downs, folds and arches. Though they can feel amazing (and are so good for us) they can also be repetitive and tedious at times. Sometimes, to keep our mind focused on ourselves and what’s within us rather than around we need to spice things up a bit. Here are a few suggestions to do exactly that:
1. Change Your Orientation
When I take a yoga class I always get very excited when the teacher instructs us to face the opposite side of the room. I haven’t quite pin-pointed why this is, but I love it! The change in scenery makes me more aware of where I am and what I’m doing, and I am far less likely to glaze over and zone out during the class.
If you usually face front during the entirety of your practice, switch it up! Facing the back of the room awakes your senses to take in new things. Not only will you be facing less familiar surroundings, but it can also encourage you to move and twist in a way that you might not have before.
2. Hold Plank for Longer
Plank Pose is one of the most effective and powerful poses you can do to build deep inner core strength. Oftentimes it is neglected and underrated! When going through your flow, take a moment to pause in your plank.
Take three or four, solid and cleansing deep breaths. Plank Pose can be one of the most agitating poses in the practice. It is not a very natural (or easy) position to hold, but it is oh so good for our health and strength. Having a strong core has so many benefits. Cultivating that solid foundation can do great things for improving posture. In addition, it is difficult to have a strong lower back without having a strong core to pair it with.
3. Turn Low Lunge into a Hip Opener
At the end of a long and stressful day, I notice that I hold a lot of tension in my hips. I don’t quite know why that is, but I do know that it is very important to give your hips some love every now and then. Before you enter your plank in your sun salutation, take a moment to change up your low lunge.
Rest your back knee on the mat beneath you and turn your bent front leg to lean on the out edge of your foot. Breathe into the hip opener and hold. If you’d like to add a twist, raise the opposite hand to the ceiling and open your chest. When finished, go through the rest of the sun salutation and then repeat on the opposite side.
4. Take an Arm Balance
Arm balances never fail to make a practice more interesting. They’re a great way to create a laser beam focus when you need it. When doing any arm balance, there are many elements all happening simultaneously:
- You need to focus your gaze to stay balanced.
- Your core activates to keep you upright.
- Keep a small bend in the arms to protect the elbow joint.
A good time to take an arm balance during a sun salutation would be right after your forward fold. Or, you could sandwich your arm balance with a forward fold before and after. One of my go-to favorites in my personal practice is to do a Crow Pose in the middle of my forward fold. I position my knees a little wider then normal and lean into it with my knees on my triceps. After holding for a few breaths, I return to my fold and the carry on with the rest of the flow.
See Also: 6 Tips to Teaching Arm Balances in Class
Sun Salutations are the Spice of Life!
Wherever your may find yourself within your practice, you can use these few tips to explore new aspects of it. It’s important to always change what we do in our physical flow so our body doesn’t go into autopilot and cease to make progress. Try to find new ways of moving through sequences you take for granted, and discover how to take your practice to another level!