Simple Sun Salutes
- Start in Tadasana with your big toes touching and heels apart or (if this makes you feel unbalanced) with your feet hip-width apart. Close your eyes and bring your palms together at your chest bone. Become aware of your whole body – from your toes on the floor to the crown of your head. Feel the solidity of the floor beneath you.
- Inhale and raise your arms over your head. Feel the length of the body, from your feet firmly grounded on the floor to the tips of your fingers reaching towards the sky. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Exhale and draw your hands down the centre of your chest as you roll down. Let the crown of your head lead the way down. Bend your knees slightly and bring your fingertips onto the floor. Let the back of your neck be long.
- Inhale and step back with the right leg, coming down onto your right knee into a lunge and bring your hands either side of your left foot. Gaze forward and feel the length of your body from the crown of the head to the right leg. Draw the shoulders away from the ears and open the chest. Press down through the base of your left big toe to hold you firm and grounded.
- Exhale and step back with the left leg and come into downward facing dog (see box below). spread your fingers and palms on the floor and draw your tailbone up towards the sky. Feel the length of your body from palms on the floor to your tailbone. Bend your knees slightly and draw up the kneecaps and thighs.
- Inhale and come on to your hands and knees into cat pose. Lengthen your spine, extending from tailbone to crown of head. Exhale and arch your back and draw your bellybutton back towards your spine.
- Inhale and step forward with your right leg, coming down on to the left knee. Bring your hands either side of the right foot. Gaze forward.
- Exhale and step or walk the left foot to the right foot and hang forward in forward bend.
- Inhale and roll back up, bringing the arms wide. Bring the palms to touch. Exhale and bring the arms down by the side.
- Repeat the sequence, stepping back with the left leg.
Downward Facing Dog
This pose is a great full body stretch. It strengthens your arms, upper back and abdominal muscles. It stretches your legs, particularly the hamstrings, and reduces stiffness in your shoulders.
Because it is an inversion (upside down pose) with the head lower than the heart, the brain gets an increased circulation of blood, which has an energising effect. It also calms your brain and stimulates the nervous system.
Start in cat pose on hands and knees. Place your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide, middle fingers pointing forward. Ensure the weight is even across both hands and knees. Turn your toes under.
Inhale and on your exhalation press into both hands evenly, especially the base of your thumbs and index fingers and lift your knees off the floor. Draw your hips up towards the ceiling so that you are making a V-shape, with your tailbone as the apex. The weight should be equal across your hands and your feet.
Relax your neck, aim the crown of your head towards the floor and take your gaze to your knees. Raise your heels slightly off the floor and tighten your thigh muscles, activating your knee caps. To strengthen the abdominal muscles draw your navel towards your spine, this will protect and stabilise the lower back.
Draw the ribs inwards so the back is flat. Have the sense of opening the arm pits and easing the chest back towards the thighs.
Feel the full stretch from your palms to your heels, both sides of the spine lengthening evenly. Slowly ease your heels towards the floor. Breathe steadily in the pose and allow the breath to guide you as to when you need to release from the posture. Start with four breaths and gradually build up to aim towards holding the pose for longer (depending on upper body strength).
Exhale and come back down on to your hands and knees and rest into child’s pose.