Sun Salutations for Beginners

We salute the Sun to give thanks for a new day filled with life – giving light, energy and sustenance. The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, is a series of yoga poses performed in a continuous flowing sequence and can even be a complete practice as the poses lengthen and strengthen, flex and extend many of the main muscles of the body while distributing the prana flow throughout the system. You can repeat sun salutations for as many times as you like. Follow the instructions below for a traditional Sun Salutation sequence for beginners.

Curious about this super mat I’m practicing on? Check out the Manduka EkO SuperLite Yoga Mat from Amazon. It’s really cool!

SUN SALUTATIONS – STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Start in Mountain pose with feet together, back and neck aligned, shoulders relaxed. Knees slightly bent if you like.
  • Inhale and sweep the arms up overhead, look up to the sky and reach to the sun. Remain in strong mountain alignment. Engage the core to support the slight back bend.
  • Exhale and dive to the floor, leading with the chest, hinging at the hips and come into Standing Forward Bend.
  • Inhale into Halfway Lift (place your hands on your chins and maintain a flat back; look forward.)
  • Exhale back into Standing Forward Bend
  • Inhale the right foot back, come into Equestrian pose (low lunge with knee resting on floor). Make sure the front knee is over the ankle and the front heel is flat on the floor.
    Place hands on the mat or the top of the thigh. Press the pelvis slightly forward to feel a stretch in the hip flexor.
  • Exhale back into Downward Dog (feet together) Inhale for one breath in Downward Dog pose.
  • Exhale into 8-point pose (i.e. 8 points of contact with the floor: knees, chest, chin, toes, hands on mat with bum towards the ceiling)
  • Inhale into Baby cobra with arms bent and shoulders in towards your sides.
  • Exhale back up into Downward Dog pose.
  • Inhale into Equestrian pose (left side)
  • Exhale bring both feet together into Standing forward bend
  • Inhale into Halfway Lift.
  • Exhale arms up and inhale into Standing Prayer Pose

TIPS

  • Start these exercises at a slow pace so that you gradually warm up the body.
  • Ensure that have proper and rhythmic breathing in order to focus on the inhalations and exhalations into each pose.
  • Do not begin in a random order as salutations are a set series of poses – follow the sequence.
  • Do not be in a hurry about the total number of times covered in a day. As a beginner, you could start with two to four rounds and then gradually go up to as many as you can comfortably do. It is a great warm-up or start to your morning on an empty stomach!

BENEFITS

  • Increases energy and awareness, so it’s great as a morning ritual!
  • Improves digestion such as regulates your bowels and can decrease bloat
  • Promotes weight loss – the more you do, the better!
  • Improves blood circulation and heart health
  • Tones muscles and improves flexibility. You’ll notice a huge difference if you make this a regular practice.
  • Unwinds the mind and body, especially if you have the breathing down!

Have a look at my previous blog post for: 10 Simple Yoga Poses for Beginners.

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Best Yoga Mat for Travel

Tried & Tested Yoga Mat for Travel

As someone who travels a lot and practices yoga on a regular basis, I need a reliable, good quality, pack-up-and-go, value-for-money, yoga mat. Are there any out there that ticks all of those boxes? Hello Manduka!

For me I need something that can fold away in my suitcase, is light weight, durable and preferably made from something biodegradable.

I did my research, read the reviews and ratings, asked for recommendations and decided to go with the Manduka SuperLite eKOⓇ 

Get your Manduka SuperLite now

Manduka, is a quality, responsible brand that makes effort to minimize environmental waste. Their eKo mats are made from biodegradable natural tree rubber, manufactured with zero waste and with no harmful plasticizers.


Why I love the Manduka eKo SuperLite Yoga Mat?

  • Firstly, because it’s only 2lbs in weight
  • Secondly, it’s perfect for travel as it folds up, rolls up and even scrunches up and can fit in my hand bag or backpack, let alone my suitcase!
  • I love purple, so I have it in ‘acai’, which looks amazing!
  • Because it’s eco-friendly (made from biodegradable natural tree rubber)
  • I’ve used so many mats that felt comfortable but offered terrible grip. The Manduka SuperLite offers perfect grip and stays in place even after a sweaty workout!
  • And, last but not least, it’s affordable at under $50
Quality material; superb colour
1.5mm thick; Eco-friendly material, sweat proof and non-slip
Durable Yoga Mat; folds easily
Durable, flexible and strong
Full length of Manuka SuperLite EKO Yoga Mat
180cm long
Cow pose on my new yoga mat
Thinness of the mat still supports my knees
Comfortable for floor poses such as Sphinx Pose
Great for floor poses as it’s non-slip, gives amazing grip and is thin enough to still feel grounded in poses



Manduka Unisex’s eKo Superlite and Pilates Yoga Travel Mat, Midnight, 71-Inch

A Relationship is like a Yoga Pose

Love is similar to yoga in that each is both a practice and the experiences that arise from the practice.  Loving is a mutual immersion into each other.

I could also say that a relationship is like a yoga posture. Getting into a relationship, everything is rosy bliss. The stars glitter in one another’s eyes. You feel like the glorious hero of an action movie who has just saved the world from a great enemy.

I see a lot of media posts of couples, which begs me to wonder if most of them come from individuals who really understand the true meaning of a soulmate or the inner workings of what a relationship is.

We’ve all made mistakes and learnt our lessons from the relationships we enter and exit.  At this point in my life, I want a partner who speaks to and lifts my soul.  I have found someone who does, but we’re still exploring each other.  Time will tell if we’re meant to be.  But this can never be forced.

Sometimes we need to give each other the space and time to delve into ourselves before we’re truly ready to commit to being side by side for a lifetime.

As someone who has experienced a rough road on the relationship path, I’ve come out learning (or at least think that) a healthy, stable and loving relationship requires a number of things:

  • The both of you remaining forever curious about each other
  • Never truly stop listening to each other
  • Rejoicing in how you complement each other
  • Embracing all the ways in which you are not just similar but also different
  • Effortlessly supporting, encouraging and inspiring one another to achieve their personal and professional goals
  • Being compassionate, patient and present and not expecting anything in return from this
  • Never ceasing to surprise each other
  • Never stop seeing the reasons which made you choose each other in the first place
  • Never taking one another for granted
  • Always finding your way back to each other amidst the conflict, obstacles or disagreements
  • Forever being playful and spontaneous with each other
  • Laughing at and with each other

In yoga as in love, the point is allowing the process to happen.  Love is after all a process.  The balance needed to create a haven of communication, a space to rest in the relationship.  Saying “Yes” to each other means, “yes” to giving each other space, and “yes” to just being together in silence.  It means saying “yes” to each other’s mistakes, unforeseen expectations and weaknesses.  This spiritual wisdom can bring the strength not to fall out of the yoga pose.

Witnessing the process of a relationship, of a yoga pose, needs faith, commitment and strength.  Sometimes I have to make extra space between my shoulders in a pose.  That means slightly adjusting one here and maybe lowering the other there.  Watching my breath.  There is discomfort, but these are my shoulders, and they are not going anywhere.

Whether it is a yoga pose, or a relationship, doubts may come up when something unexpected or disappointing happens.  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says even doubt can be positive.

A couple can take the time to nourish their smiles both together and individually. Practicing yoga together, is a way to stay spiritually connected. And that giving of oneself in love will flow back into the relationship.  It is a law of the universe.

Becoming intimate with yourself is a necessary prerequisite for intimacy with a partner. Simply put, you need to be comfortable with yourself before you can be comfortable with anyone else.  Intimacy is connection.  Connection with your partner is not unlike connection with your own body.  There are restrictions, limitations, and discomforts.  There are tight spots in our relationships.  We need to know when to push into those spots in an effort to open them up, and when to give our partner some space.

How many relationships have ended after a prolonged dispute in which both partners are aware of the issues but cannot or do not act to address them?  How often have you spoken with someone whose relationship ended without them knowing why?

Yoga provides us with opportunities to practice intimacy and presence with ourselves in a way that helps us to extend those gifts to our partners.  Practicing solo is just so much easier.  On our yoga mats the stakes are relatively low.  If you incline toward overthinking and obsessing about details, you can use yoga practice to experiment with letting go of that tendency to mentally scrutinize.  If you tend to be emotionally unavailable, you can use the time on your mat to experiment with intimate attention to detail.

Ultimately, intimacy and presence comprise a complementary union that feels like fullness.   Simply allowing your partner to express him or herself, and remaining wide awake and present to all that is expressed, in itself is a powerful practice.

Allowing things to simply be, without any intervention or critique, will yield the greater intimacy and presence necessary for you to dance your relationship into deeper and more profound levels of immersion.

Allowing for time off to be alone individually is as important as the relationship. “For love to blossom, there needs to be longing… and longing needs a little space,” says Sri Sri. “Though it is a little painful, longing is inevitable.  If you don’t allow longing, then love does not grow.  So, give them some space…and take some space yourself.”

As time passes in a relationship, a couple witnesses that expectations and attitudes change.  The relationship can become better with more yoga and meditation practice.  We can learn how to communicate better in a relationship, to be more patient and forgiving.  Again and again, the cycle rotates from rosy and glorious bliss to momentary shakiness.  There may be confusion when little earthquakes shake.  Commitment is what holds the yoga pose together, when you decide not to fall.  Spirituality is what gives the strength to see it through.

Namaste!

References:  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

7 reasons why I do weights and how it complements my yoga routine…

I’ve been loving the feel-good factor of weight training.  I also notice a pre-workout adrenaline that comes beforehand, which motivates me even more.  I’ve been doing weight training at home for nearly 2 months now (yes, still relatively new.)  Here are 7 reasons why I’m hooked.  These are based on my own personal experience and a bit of research: Continue reading “7 reasons why I do weights and how it complements my yoga routine…”

Travel… It can ‘make & break’

International living (especially in 3rd world nations) introduces you to world conditions that you might be uncomfortable with or psychologically disturbed by.  But with the challenge comes opportunity for personal change as growth comes through new experiences.

When you move to a new country, eating becomes a thrill as you relish in new flavours and tastes.  Driving becomes a challenge as you encounter new rules and conduct (or lack of, here in Vietnam!)   A trip to the supermarket introduces new sights, colours, customs and culture.  It’s these things that shape us and open our minds. Continue reading “Travel… It can ‘make & break’”

Yoga for Men: Breaking the Stereotype

Unfortunately, men still represent a small portion of the Western yogi community.   But why?

At its emergence, yoga was primarily a male practice.  But when it found its way to the West, middle and upper class women with the time and means to pursue self-care quickly became the target demographic.  Thus, yoga businesses began marketing to women with female models, a feminine voice, and women’s apparel.   With that kind of branding, it’s no wonder more men aren’t willingly exploring the benefits of yoga. Continue reading “Yoga for Men: Breaking the Stereotype”

Have you tried the king of hip-openers, Pigeon Pose?

pigeon pat busch

Yoga handles stiff hips in a variety of ways, but most directly through a family of poses that are known loosely as “hip openers.”

Pigeon Pose, or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, primarily targets the external rotators of the hips. These tight and usually overworked areas breathe a sigh of relief when the time comes to settle into this healing pose. Continue reading “Have you tried the king of hip-openers, Pigeon Pose?”

Inspiration is the word of the month!

I’ve been conscious of how long it’s been since my last blog post.   Sorry it’s been a while.  The reason is mainly down to travelling and not having my laptop with me for over a month. I’ve been dying to post something and I couldn’t wait any longer so I went ahead with the tedious task of blogging via my phone.  Today I’m blogging from Cambridge, England. Continue reading “Inspiration is the word of the month!”

Embrace your Warrior

The Warrior I asana (pose) has been the talk of the day, so I thought it should feature on the blog today.

Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I) is a powerful standing yoga pose that develops stamina, balance, and coordination.  This pose also strengthens leg muscles, builds flexibility and stretches the chest and lungs – improving breathing capacity and invigorating the body.

Beyond the physical posture, Warrior I creates deep concentration.  Focusing on your foundation and building the pose from the ground up reduces distractions and hones your energy.  Your mind becomes focused, calm, and clear. Continue reading “Embrace your Warrior”

What’s all the hype about mindfullness?

mindfulness_poster_UK

This subject has been brought up a lot this week.  But what exactly is mindfullness? Some say being completely engaged in the present moment.

Imagine driving a car; you reach your destination, but realise you remember nothing about the journey (and this is not related to intoxicated driving!) This is mindlessness… when our attention is absorbed in our wandering minds and we are not really ‘present’ in our own lives. Continue reading “What’s all the hype about mindfullness?”