The Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) is a mainstay of yoga classes everywhere. It consists of a linked sequence of asanas, moving from standing, through a lunge to downward dog, plank and cobra, and back up to standing. Although quite often offered as a warming up sequence, it should never be regarded as easy or gentle - in fact, taking the body from standing down to the ground and back up in a few breaths, is challenging. This is especially so for anyone (ie most of us) lacking upper body strength.

We need to gain the confidence to take our body weight from the feet or knees onto the hands, and use the muscles of the shoulders and upper body, in order to bring the chest down between the hands - and the reverse - without over use of the lower back.

In this week’s class, we explored some introductory moving poses which aimed to prepare students for the full saluation. These were moving cats - getting used to using the breath to move from child up into all-fours cat, and circle back down towards the floor on the out breath. Then we added cobra. Bringing the body down gracefully took some of you a little time to master, but it was fun.

Once this flowing sequence was underway successfully, it was time to add in downward dog! It is a little difficult to describe, and I hope the sketches below will remind you of what we did in our class. Don’t forget first to warm up your body in any way you like, either standing, or lying on your back and starting with a knee hug.