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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun


Soon it will be Yule, Christmas, the Winter Solstice. Another name for this special time is The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, or Dies Natalis Invicti Solis. One really great way to honor the Sun (and yourself) is with a series of body positions called Sun Salutations. An excellent time to begin this ritual is on the morning of the Winter Solstice just as the sun is rising, (facing east). If a sunrise Sun Salutation isn't possible, but you want to include this in your morning routine, pick a time before breakfast, and that will be fine.

The Sun Salutation, (Surya Namaskar), is a series of 12 yoga postures performed in a single, graceful flow. Each movement is coordinated with the breath. Inhale as you extend or stretch, and exhale as you fold or contract. The Sun Salutation builds strength and increases flexibility. Different styles of yoga perform the Sun Saluation with their own variations. However, the flow presented below covers core steps used in most styles.

For the series below, a single round consists of two complete sequences: one for the right side of the body and the other for the left.

Even on days when you think you have no time for yoga, try and do at least one or two rounds of the Sun Salutation. You'll feel the difference.

1. Mountain:
Begin by standing in Mountain pose, feet about hip width apart, hands either by your sides or in prayer position. Take several deep breaths.

2. Hands up:
On your next inhale, in one sweeping movement, raise your arms up overhead and gently arch back as far as feels comfortable and safe.

3. Head to knees:
As you exhale, bend forward, bending the knees if necessary, and bring your hands to rest beside your feet.

4. Lunge:
Inhale and step the right leg back

5. Plank
Exhale and step the left leg back into plank position. Hold the position and inhale.

6. Stick
Exhale and lower yourself as if coming down from a pushup. Only your hands and feet should touch the floor.

7. Upward Dog

Inhale and stretch forward and up, bending at the waist. Use your arms to lift your torso, but only bend back as far as feels comfortable and safe. Lift your legs up so that only the tops of your feet and your ahnds touch the floor. It's okay to keep your arms bent at the elbow.

8. Downward dog
Exhale, lift from the hips and push back and up.

9. Lunge
Inhale and step the right foot forward.

10. Head to knees
Exhale, bring the left foot forward and step into head-to-knee position.

11. Hands up
Inhale and rise slowly while keeping arms extended .

12. Mountain

Exhale, and in a slow, sweeping motion, lower your arms to the sides. End by bringing your hands up into prayer position. Repeat the sequence, stepping with the left leg.


If the stick figures are not quite "doing" it for you, here's a video:

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