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Sun Salutation - Full Version E-mail
Level 8 Difficulty. Time: 1 minute to as long as you like! This is the full, Serenity Yoga Sun Salutation. This sequence uses the Wood Chopper, the Lunge, the Dog, the Cobra, the Puppy and the Cat. It gives you a full work out by using all the movements of the traditional form, plus it includes the option of having a twisted cobra, which will stretch your obliques, the muscles at the sides of your chest.


Corinne's Sun Salutation & Moon Salutation Charts are available on Amazon.com.

It's a good idea to check out the postures pages and be comfortable with these poses first before learning the sequence.

We suggest you master each move indvidually and build up to the full Sun Salutation by combining a few moves at a time, until you are competely comfortable with the basics. Then master the breathing.

If this sequence is difficult for you, we have other Sun Salutations to help you build up to this one. Also, for each pose in the sequence we have detailed instruction pages. Remember, too, that any part of the Sun Salutation can be modified to your level of ability, so that you can include it and benefit from it to some degree. See the instruction pages for that pose to help you with modifications that can work for you.

Once the full Sun Salutation is second nature to you, you can use it toward different benefits, depending on which Breathing Theme you use with it. Red Level Breathing Themes help you become comfortable with the sequence and give you a good stretch to start your day. The Fifth Breathing Theme helps you tone and strengthen your body and burn calories. The Yellow and Blue Level Breathing Themes help calm you and help you connect with you body through a sense of flow. The Green Level Breathing Themes help build strength and a deep sense of relaxation while getting a good workout. Purple Level helps you move and develop your energy centers. Centering exercises help you develop poise, balance and emotional centeredness.

So you can see that the Sun Salutation is a good, all purpose sequence that can take you just about anywhere you want to go.

First - get used to the movements....

Basic Movements of the Full Sun Salutation
Order Your Own 81/2 x 11, High Resolution, laminated Chart, double sided with versions at different levels.
Details (Click on underlined poses or their pictures to learn even more about each position.)
  • Start in Mountain Pose, with your arms by your sides.

  • Tip Having your arms in line with the sides of your hip bones makes you fairly straight, without you working hard at it.

  • Take a moment to elongate your spine: feel yourself growing 'taller' fer slightly, as if your vertebrae are separating very slightly.
  • Take time to feel your body letting go, sinking down, as you breathe out.
  • Relax your body bit by bit, with each breath out. (See Mountain Pose.)

  • Now you are ready to bring your hands up into Namaste position (prayer position) as shown here. Match the movement with your breath like this:
  • Breathe in and sweep your arms open wide, stretching them high over your head.

  • With your hands over head, join your palms

  • Breathe out and lower your joined palms in front of you. Rest them in position in front of your heart.
Step 1 - Wood Chopper
Go into the Wood Chopper
1. 2. 3. 4.

In Step 2 of the Wood Chopper. the extreme backward stretch is shown here. If you're not up to to it, or you have back injuries, simply stretch up, without stretching back. Or stretch back just a little. Let pressure in your lower back be your guide to when you're going to far.

As you come forward, for part 4, fold forward like a door closing, keeping your arms fully stretched. Imagine you're drawing a circle from high over your head, down to the floor.

Don't hunch your back. Keep your spine elongated and arms fully stretched until they are ready to touch the floor.

Tip: As you fold forward, keep your arms in line with your ears as long as possible.

In the forward bend, in part 4, you can bend your knees in order to touch the floor. Try to keep the amount of bend even between both legs. Bend only as much as you need in order to avoid pain in your back or legs.

Once your hands are in touch with the floor, pause, let some weight sink into your hands, and check to be sure your spine is still fully elongated.

Safety Tip If you feel pressure in your lower back during part 2, the back bend part of the Wood Chopper, you are leaning back too far. Ease off. You will make more progress by respecting this warning than by pushing yourself. Safety Tip 2 Keep your spine fully elongated and your arms stretching fully as you arch back and as you bend forward. This will allow you to arch farther and will take the strain off your lower back during both movements.

Tip Keep your hands linked and beside your ears as long as possible before touching t hem to the floor.

During the Wood Chopper:
Breathe In
while stretching up.
Breathe Out while stretching back.
Breathe In while you stretch up again.
Breathe Out
when you fold forward.

Tip From here on, try to keep your hands in place, on the same spots on the floor. If you can't manage to do this, don't worry about it. In time you will become more and more comfortable with the movement, so that keeping your hands in place feels natural.Tip The most common reason for people not being able to keep their hands in one place during the Sun Salutation is that they don't stretch their legs far enough back for the next steps:
Step 2 - The Lunge
Go into the Lunge, left leg back.

First Step into the basic, full lunge if you can manage it - with your leg fully back and your knee straight, but not locked.

If you can't do this comfortably, see our Lunge page for modifications. For starters, it's OK to bend your knee, until the day when you have more strength and flexibility in your legs.

Once in the lunge, be sure to put some weight on the back leg.
Then, breathng out, allow your hips to sink directly downward toward the floor.

Breathe in as you lift your hips up again.

Step 3- The Dog

Once you've completed the Lunge, shift some weight forward, into your hands. This will free your front leg enough to swing it back. Now you're almost into the Dog.

Click here for details on getting from the Lunge to the Dog.

Click here to learn the Dog pose in more detail, to understand the breathing, or to learn modifications that make it more possible for you.

Step 4- The Cobra
1.  2.  3. Modification
Lower your body into the the Cobra

Lowering your body down is done like a reverse push up. Some people put in a scooping motion. For others, it's difficult to lower directly down to the floor. In that case, it's OK to lower your knees first, then your upper body and hips.

See our Cobra pages for ways to modify the cobra to your level of ability.
If you have difficulty doing a full cobra, you can lift yourself up only a little, as in picture #1, or even rest your weight on your elbows and lower arms, as in picture #3until the day when your upper body is stronger.

Breathe in as you go into the cobra.

Safety Tip If you are going into the cobra and feel pressure in your lower back, you are leaning back too far. Ease off. You will make more progress by respecting this warning than by pushing yourself. Safety Tip 2 Keep your spine fully elongated as you arch back. This will allow you to arch farther and will take the strain off your lower back.
Optional Twist

This option adds a work out for the obliques, the muscles at the sides of your chest. It's a good way to develop upper body strength and to develop your breathing muscles.

This variation is detailed in our Cobra pages.

After you go fully into the cobra, pause, then breathe out and turn your body to one side, turning from the waste.

Pause. Breathing in, return to the front and go back into a full cobra.

Pause. Breathe out, twist to the other side.

Pause. Breathing in return to the front.

Now you're ready for the next step in the Sun Salutation.
Step 5- The Puppy

Slide your hips back into the Puppy
Enjoy the full stretch up your arms and back.

Do this while Breathing Out.

If your shoulders and arms aren't ready to hold your weight, you can modify the pose by resting your weigh on your lower arms.
Step 6- The Cat

Sweep your chest along the floor, toward your hands.

When your head reaches your hands, arch up into the cat.

Do this while Breathing In

Step 7- The Dog

By lifting your knees you're almost back into the Dog.

The Dog is done while Breathing Out.

Click here to learn the Dog pose in more detail, to understand the breathing, or to learn modifications that make it more possible for you.

Step 8- The Lunge
Go into the Lunge again, only this time have the left foot forward.

To get into the Lunge from the Dog, shift some weight into your hands and allow your body to come forward a bit. This will free up your legs to allow you to step forward.

Tip Just before you step forward, push your hips up, with a lively lifting motion. This will give your leg more room to swing forward. The lift is done by pushing up with your hands and your supporting leg.

See our Lunge and Dog pages for tips and modifications.

Breathe in as you go into the Lunge

Once in the lunge, be sure to put some weight on the back leg.
Then, Breathng out, allow your hips to sink directly downward toward the floor.

Breathe in as you lift your hips up again.

Step 9 (which brings you back to the beginning) - Wood Chopper

Bring your back foot forward to join the front one.

Again, this is done by pushing up, with a lively lifting motion, to give your back leg room to swing forward. Do this lift by pushing up with your hands and your back leg.


Do this movement while Breathing Out

This puts you into the forward bend part of the Wood Chopper again.



You can come to standing in one of two ways:

1. As a rag doll, (which is safest and is gentler on your lower back),

 

2. Or with your arms fully stretched out, in a reverse movement from the original Wood Chopper.

Safety Tip If you come up with your arms fully extended, be sure to have your spine elongated and your arms well stretched. This will take some pressure off your lower back.

Do these movements while Breathing In and Out as much as you need to.

Now you're back where you started.
You can continue into another round of the Sun Salutation if you like.

If you continue: remember to alternate which leg you lunge back.
Think of it this way:

First round: Left foot back, on the way down. Left foot forward on the way up.

Second round: Right foot back, on the way down. Right foot forward on the way up.

 
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