Sun Salutation Illustrated Step-by-Step Instructions

Sun Salutation Illustrated Step-by-Step Instructions

Learn the Core Vinnitsa Sequence

Dog to Core Plank Wave

Come into Down Dog. This is different from the Dog Wave: now we’re going to flow into a stronger pose. Bend your knees and lift the heels. Exhale; lift your belly and roll forward into the top of a push-up: your front, top hip crests pull inward, the front lumbar spine and ribs lift as you round the back forward until shoulders stack straight over the hands. Think of leading with the back of your chest as you pull forward. Inhale and add the sacrum and low back curving in and up to lengthen through the front chest and crown of the head.

Half or Full Chaturanga (chaht-oor-ahn-gah)

Place your knees down in Plank Pose if needed. Inhale, and shift your heels and chest forward as you bend your elbows over wrists. Lift your front spine into your body. Lower 1 inch or more, moving toward a low, floating push-up. It’s best not to aim for a perfect “halfway down” position in this pose. Anytime your shoulders dip lower than your elbow joints, it causes massive strain. Instead, as I’m doing here, hover higher than your elbows and you’ll build muscle, not pressure. To check your alignment, put a yoga block halfway up your mat and rest your hips on it as you lower to Chattering

Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog

Lower your hips to the mat. Keep your shoulders up on the back. Point your toes and press your feet into the floor. Exhale, push your hands down strongly, and use the momentum to round your back first. This counteracts an overarching low back. Unroll the chest open, leading with the back of your chest and back skull, moving back and up—not jutting out your chest. You can remain in Baby Cobra (with ribs still on the mat) or, if it feels good, lift the torso up a little higher, just your hips and legs remaining on the floor, for Teenage Cobra. Inhale here to fill the chest and belly.

KNEE-DOWN PLANK

Exhale, press knees down into the mat, the hands ground down as your front pelvis (psoas) pulls you upward and back into Down Dog pose. Step your feet over from pointed to balls of the feet as you move into the pose. Work toward this stronger variation to totally tone the deeper core muscles.

POINTED PLANK

From your Cobra or Up Dog, keep your toes pointed. Exhale, press hands into the floor strongly as your legs, front hips, and spine all lift up in one line so that you’re in a Plank on the tops of your pointed feet. Continue sending hips up and back, as one foot and then the other steps over into Down Dog.

Down Dog to Lunge

In Downward-Facing Dog, keep your hips square. Inhale, and lift the right leg up. Flex through your heel, and keep the leg strong. Draw lightly up the front of the body to resist arching your back or dropping out through the shoulders.

Move into Core Plank

This pose teaches you to use physics power to gain core power and lightness. So you really need to bend your arms! Begin to bend both elbows straight back and hug them in to line up the forearms as if you’re about to take your parallel forearms to the floor. Wrist creases should now be centered forward. Bend your standing leg, too. As you exhale, simultaneously

  • Press your arms and standing leg straight.
  • Use the momentum rising up from the earth to round your back high and sweep your right knee into your chest.
  • Move shoulders forward over wrists.
  • Inhale back to Dog Splits.

Come into Fists of Fire Lunge

Exhale, root your feet strongly, and lift your front pelvis away from the front thigh. Keep your arms completely relaxed and hanging down. Begin to roll up over your legs, drawing front pelvis in and up. Then draw in your sacrum and low-back curve. As the momentum hits your chest, bend elbows up and unfurl your arms to the sky. This lessens the load on the upper back and shoulder muscles, which can build tension, not strength. Reach up for a breath or two here in High Lunge.

Finally comment

The Core Vinyasa, or centered flow, is my anatomical redesign of a traditional in-between sequence that you can insert after any Down Dog or between standing pose sequences to ramp up the intensity of your practice. You can do it a lot or skip it whenever you want. Take one breath or more in each pose, but try to transition to the next pose on an exhale first as you begin moving, then an inhale to fill the pose once you arrive. This will ensure more support for your low back as you move. My updated version will get and keep you optimally safe and strong as you move from pose to pose.

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