In every vinyasa flow yoga class and many other styles of yoga class you’ll find a few sun salutations, but sometimes I feel like three basic surya namaskara A’s and three surya namaskara B’s can be a little boring if that’s what you’re used to all the time. That’s not to say I don’t love a simple sun salutation, I really do. Many mornings you’ll find me on my mat breathing through three of each to help energise my body for the day ahead, but it’s good to know that there are many sun salutation variations.
The obvious way to change it up a bit is to pick a different type, maybe doing the Sivananda sun salutation variations or the Jivamukti version. These are all equally awesome for awakening the muscles and mind to start the day. If you’re looking for some other ideas, then keep reading.
Thinking about the chakras whilst moving through your flow doesn’t have to be an in-depth insight into each one. Why not try picking one chakra for each day of the week and dedicating your sun salutation practice to it, by adding in a posture that emphasises the chosen chakra. For example opening the chest for a baby back bend in warrior one for anahata chakra.
Take your mind to each of the three bandhas as you move through your sun salutation variations making sure you engage each one with every posture. If you’re unsure about what and where your bandhas are, give them a little google, so you know what I’m talking about. There are three and they are mula bandha (around the pelvic floor area), uddiyana bandha (below the belly button) and jalandhara bandha (the throat).
Breathe it & Feel it
This is a really nice way to start your session, maybe after you’ve warmed the body and have worked through some pranayama techniques. Before launching into some energising sun salutations why not stay in a comfortable seated position, closing off the eyes and just breathing through through the sequence as if you were actually doing it, picturing each asana in your mind. It really helps bring the focus to the breath and how it should feel whilst you’re moving.
Power to the People
Maybe not as the first sun salutation of the day, but doing some power yoga sun salutations can feel so amazing for the body and will give you a bit of a workout too. Add in a few Chaturanga press ups, hold plank for a few breaths and switch your warrior one for a high lunges and maybe throw in a few lunge lowers bringing the knee to the floor, just to help feel those quads working.
Take your sun salutations to the mat for a restorative flow style. My favourite little sequence for this is starting in a kneeing position, inhale lifting the bottom and arms up, exhale to all fours, inhale cow, exhale cat, inhale back to child’s pose and exhale back to kneeling. Repeat this about five times and start to feel more alive. This is a great way to warm the body up if you’re doing a super early morning session, as it leads into the flow with gentle movements, focusing on the breath.
So there you have a few ways to spice up your sun salutation variations, hopefully you’ll be able to use some of these variations when you’re next practising at home.
For any beginners out there who would like to know what a basic sun salutation should look like, then watch this video.
Love, Cat x