Half Sun Salutations

Ardha Suryanamaskar

For many people, the flowing movements of the Sun Salutation arevirtually synonymous with yoga. This version of a Half Sun Salutation is an excellent way to warm up the body at the beginning of a yoga session; and if you have only five minutes, it can be a complete practice in itself. It bends the spine both forward and backward, opens the hips and hamstrings, stimulates circulation, and establishes a deep and rhythmic breath.

Just as important, Half Sun Salutation can set a meditative tone forthe rest of your practice--or your day. Sun Salutations have theirorigin in the ancient devotional practice of prostrations--a bowing down in homage to the mystery and power of the divine spirit that manifests in every being, every moment. As you flow through

Ardha Suryanamaskar,

you can tune your whole body to that attitude of reverence and surrender.

Begin by standing in a relaxed position, with your back straight, feet together, and your hands in a gesture of prayer at your heart [Figure 1]. Begin breathing, using long, steady breaths. Ideally, you should take at least five seconds for each inhalation and five seconds for each exhalation.


Keep your attention focused on your breath, and with each inhalation allow your arms to sweep out to the side and over your head [Figure 2].

Let the breath initiate and guide the movement so that your hands come together overhead just as you reach the top of your inhalation [Figure 3].

Then release your hands from their raised position and ride the wave of the exhalation downward, folding forward from the hips and swan-diving the torso toward the floor [Figure 4]. At the bottom of the exhalation, let your arms glide down

as you arrive in a full forward bend, with your legs straight, your belly and chest lengthening against your thighs, and the crown of your head released toward the floor [Figure 5].

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Anne Cushman
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