Connecting with Yoga

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I was out of a training routine for most of 2017. I'm not sure if I lost my motivation as work became more intense or if my priorities changed. Either way I became a sluggish person & I knew I had to do something about it!

To be honest I felt a bit out of place at the gym, definitely unfit & not ready to push myself. I realised the problem was my mindset, so I looked for "at home" alternatives to get me back into my 'training groove'.

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I've always known the importance of the mind & body connection when it comes to training, but I needed to re-connect. I could of started with some Pilates routines that I knew to get me there, but I wanted to challenge myself by learning a new practice, that also emphasises the mind, body & spirit. This is why I felt Yoga was the right start.

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I've never practiced yoga regularly, but I find it very interesting & I have a lot of respect for all the yogis! Looking for sequences that I could do at home, I wanted to do a routine that had flow & challenged the full body. This is when I came across the Sun Salutation sequence. Used more as a warm up routine, it has movements that work all big muscle groups, strengthens & improves flexibility. This was the awakening I needed to get back to my active self.

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Sun Salutation is traditionally performed in the morning, to show gratitude to & honor the sun, revive & energise the body. 

There are a variety of sequences to the Sun Salutation. Here is the one I practice, pose by pose, all you need is a flat surface:

WARM UP (repeat 3x)

    Stand feet hip with apart, lengthen the spine, belly in, arms resting by the sides

    • Inhale (breath in) - rolling shoulders forward & up
    • Exhale (breath out) - pulling shoulders back & down
    • Repeat 3 times
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    SEQUENCE

    • Inhale - sweep arms out & overhead, reaching up & palms touch
    • Exhale - bringing hands down & in towards the heart (center)& pressing palms together into Prayer Pose
    • Inhale - sweep arms out & overhead, reaching up & over.
    • Exhale - Swing arms down & swan dive into Forward Bend Pose relaxing the neck, shoulders & arms, drawing the belly in. Bend the knees if hamstrings feel too tight.
    • Inhale - place hands on the shins, to lengthen the spine into Flat Back Pose
    • Exhale - spread fingers on the floor press the hands down, stepping back right & left foot into Plank Pose
    • Inhale - shift body forward, roll onto the tip toes, keep your belly in, pushing the mat away & lifting the sternum.
    • Exhale -  lower upper body down, elbows close to your sides, bending to a right angle, into Four-Limbed Staff Pose
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    • Inhale - untuck the toes, lift chest forward, straighten elbows into Upward Facing Dog, pressing hands down, shine the heart up, keeping shoulders down
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    • Exhale - tuck the toes under, belly in & lift the hips, pressing back into Downward Facing Dog. Lengthen the spine, spread the shoulder blades wide, pull ribs in, drop the heels down, bend the knees if needed. Hold this pose - deep inhale
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    • Exhale - bring right knee in forward, towards the elbows, push with the hands away from the floor, round the back & step foot forward into a lunge (right angle at the knee) keeping back leg as straight as possible
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    • Inhale - rise up into Warrior 1 Pose, keeping your upper body facing forward, belly in & square hips.
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    • Exhale - swing hands down, placing them on the mat & step right foot back into Plank Pose
    • Inhale - shift body forward, roll onto the tip toes, keep your belly in, pushing the mat away & lifting the sternum
    • Exhale - lower upper body down, elbows close to your sides, bending to a right angle, into Four-Limbed Staff Pose
    • Inhale - untuck the toes, lift chest forward, straighten elbows into Upward Facing Dog, pressing hands down, shine the heart up, keeping shoulders down
    • Exhale -  tuck the toes under, belly in & lift the hips, pressing back into Downward Facing Dog. Lengthen the spine, spread the shoulder blades wide, pull ribs in, drop the heels, bend the knees if needed. Hold this pose - deep inhale
    • Exhale -  bring left knee in forward, towards the elbows, push with the hands away from the floor, round the back & step foot forward into a lunge (right angle at the knee) keeping back leg as straight as possible
    • Inhale -  rise up into Warrior 1 Pose
    • Exhale - swing hands down, placing them on the mat & step left foot back into Plank Pose
    • Inhale - shift body forward, roll onto the tip toes, keep your belly in, pushing the mat away & lifting the sternum. 
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    • Exhale - lower upper body down, elbows close to your sides, bending to a right angle, into Four-Limbed Staff Pose
    • Inhale - untuck the toes, lift chest forward, straighten elbows into Upward Facing Dog, pressing hands down, shine the heart up, keeping shoulders down
    • Exhale -  tuck the toes under, belly in & lift the hips, pressing back into Downward Facing Dog. Lengthen the spine, spread the shoulder blades wide, pull ribs in, drop the heels, bend the knees if needed
    • Inhale - look towards your knees, rise on your toes & bend knees
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    • Exhale - step right foot & left foot forward towards your hands, into Forward Bend Pose, relaxing the neck, shoulders & arms, drawing the belly in. Bend the knees if hamstrings are too tight
    • Inhale - raise up to a standing position (repeat from the top to continue with your next round)

    COOL DOWN 

    When you are done with the rounds, follow this cool down

    • Exhale - kneel down, shins on the mat, knees bent, glutes rest on the heels, forehead on the floor & hands stretch forward into                Child Pose Close your eyes.
    • Inhale - expand the rib-cage, letting all the air into the lungs & feeling a deep sense of relaxation
    • Exhale - let all the air out, drawing your ribs in.
    • Roll up to a sitting position & the sequence comes to an end

    This is an intermediate sequence, challenging enough, as some days this is the only exercise I do. I'm still working on my technique & flexibility with each pose. I concentrate on the breathing & aim to do between 5-10 rounds.

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    If you try it, please let me know what you think!

    I hope it brings you the physical strength & mental harmony that it does to me.

    Con amor

    Sarita

    Location: Wolwespruit MTB

    Photography: Landi Visser

     

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