Hello my sunshines!
Welcome to my first official blog post here on our TwoFitMoms website!
One question I get asked a lot is… “Where do I start?” or “What poses should I do first?” My answer is quite simple… LEARN THE BASICS! So I decided that the first thing I would break down is a Modified Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar A. The variations you can do with this simple flow are endless… but let’s break down a basic, beginner flow that I like to teach.
- BREATHE! Each movement will happen on an inhalation or an exhalation through the nose… Ujjayi Pranayama. Ujjayi breathing is known for the soft “hissing” sound it makes as a person inhales and exhales over the back of their throat. The purpose of Ujjayi breathing is to slow the breath down, bring attention to the breath throughout the practice and prevent the mind from wandering. A simple way of learning this is to simply place the tip of the tongue on the roof of your mouth, take a deep breath through the nose and slowly exhale out of your nose. Did you hear the soft sound this makes?
- Tadasana or Mountain Pose: Stand at the top of your mat… Feet together or hips-width distance apart. Feel your spine lengthen as you stand up tall with your chin parallel to your mat. Roll your shoulders away from your ears. Place your hands at heart center in Anjali Mudra or prayer position; or alongside your torso, palms facing outward. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in and out through your nose… Ujjayi Breathing.
- Urdhva Hastasana or Upward Salute: On an inhale, sweep the arms up overhead. Look up, watch the palms touch.
- Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold: Exhale. Leading with your heart, swan dive down bringing your hands to your mat, thighs, shins or blocks. Make sure to evenly distribute your weight into your feet. For most people, that means shifting your weight slightly towards your toes. Inner thighs spin back, spine remains long, shoulders continue to pull away from your ears. Don’t be a turtle!
- Ardha Uttanasana or Half Standing Forward Fold: Inhale. Look up; come up onto fingertips, blocks or higher up onto your legs. Lengthen the spine, flat back.
- Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold: Exhale. Lower back down into Uttanasana.
- Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana or Plank Pose: Inhale. Place your hands onto your mat and step back into Plank Pose or top of a push up. Shoulders will stack directly over your wrists. Keep your gaze on your mat. Spread your fingers wide. Your biceps roll forward so the creases of your elbows point toward the top of your mat. Shoulder blades broaden down your back. Core engages… think navel to spine while your tailbone tucks under. The goal is to make a straight line from head to heels. If this is too much for you, lower down onto your knees!
- Chaturanga Dandasana or Four-Limbed Staff Pose: Exhale. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, shift slightly forward and slowly bend the elbows so they come to a 90 degree angle. Do not collapse onto our mat! If you struggle with keeping your elbows in, you have two options. 1 – Try the “caterpillar” instead! From plank pose, lower your knees, chest and chin to your mat as shown in the bottom pic. 2 – Do a modified Chaturanga by lowering onto your knees. In either modification, keep those elbows squeezing in.
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana or Upward Facing Dog: Inhale. Roll over the toes or flip one foot at a time so the tops of the feet press firmly into your mat. Press into your hands as you simultaneously start to straighten your arms and lift your torso up. Your hands and the tops of your feet are your only connection to your mat. Keep your gaze straight ahead or slightly back. Squeeze your shoulder blades against your back as you puff out the sides of your ribs. Relax your buttasana, try not to clench.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing Dog: Exhale. Roll back over the toes and lift the hips high. You should look like an upside down “V”. Fingers spread wide, biceps roll forward, shoulders melt down the back, lower ribs corset in towards one another… so do not dump into your chest… navel pulls in, tailbone lengthens, quadriceps lift as your inner thighs spin in, heels press actively towards your mat. It’s OK if your heels do not touch the mat but the intention should be down. Keep your gaze about halfway down your mat towards your toes without letting your head sag.
Some modifications? If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly to take any tension out of the lower back. You may feel tugging there when you try to straighten the legs out… So be mindful, and take the bend. You can also sit back onto your heels from Upward Facing Dog before going into Downward Facing Dog.
Take 5 deep breaths here.
- Move on up… Inhale. Look forward and bend your legs. Exhale. Walk or jump to the top of your mat.
- Ardha Uttanasana or Half Standing Forward Fold: Inhale. Look up, flat back.
- Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold: Exhale. Fold.
- Urdhva Hastasana or Upward Salute: Inhale. Keeping the spine long, sweep the arms up towards the sky… Look up, palms press.
- Tadasana or Mountain Pose: Exhale. Hands in prayer in front of your heart or down by your sides.
If you’re new to yoga, start out by doing 3-5 of these a day! Take them as slowly as you need to, and if something doesn’t feel good… MODIFY!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu