Okay so who doesn't LOVE sun salutations? They warm and stretch every part of the body and they're one of the best ways to kick start your yoga practice. Best of all, they go with the flow...That's the part I like the most!
As a yoga teacher, I'm pretty comfortable saying that sun salutations are a gift to both teacher and student. They can be an hour long yoga practice unto themselves (and don't think I haven't gone there). They can also be a short, sweet, “no-excuses” option for getting your asana on the mat when you're pressed for time.
Customizing Your Day with Ayurvedic Sun Salutations
Most of us are familiar with the popular “flavors” of sun salutations. They're the ones that've been hanging out at the beginning of our yoga practice since we began practicing. We've grown to love each one of the poses for what they do for our minds as well as our bodies, and for the simple and beautiful way that they just fit together.
But for those brave enough to step off the well worn and sunny path, something more awaits...
Where Ayurveda Can Take Your Yoga
The ayurvedic view of yoga, although sisterly and sentimental, is pretty much the same as the ayurvedic view of everything: “Does it support or sabotage your natural state of balance?” The thing is, most of us approach our yoga practice in hot pursuit of that blissed out afterglow and without a single thought of balance.
For those interested in deepening their practice and expanding it's potential for healing, throwing ayurveda into the mix can do more than make things interesting; it can turn your practice on it's head! It's all about the balance, baby. And if you've never tried yoga with a dash of ayurveda, it's a brave new world out there... So let's explore!
The Vata Salutation
Vata is the energy of movement. It's light and cold and dry and it is all around us, especially in the autumn and early winter. Vata energy is about getting things from here to there; something most of us find ourselves doing all day long (and perhaps even into the night).
Ayurveda would say that we are a society overrun with vata energy which is why many of us suffer from issues related to an excess of vata. These are things like anxiety, constipation, being overwhelmed, back pain, fear, muscle stiffness, joint issues, digestive discomfort, and your average, run-of-the-mill mind-body disconnection.
The vata salutation is a simple variation on a traditional Surya Namaskara A. This sun salutation aims to bring you down to earth and keep you anchored in your body, if only for a little while. It focuses on slowing the pace and nurturing a constant awareness of your connection to yourself and the earth. It invites you to feel supported and to embrace and grow your strength.
How We Do It
The vata balancing mantra is: grounding, warming, routine. Getting vata under control comes down to warming up and smoothing out it's jagged and variable edges. Flow through the practice as if you were a warm and soothing cup of cocoa, and it will definitely manage to hit the spot!
Keep the breath warming using Ujjayi, and allow your body to feel heavy and supported at every turn. Focus on minimizing the stop-starts and glide through the inflection points like a well-oiled machine (oil is GREAT for vata).
Here's a video to show you what I mean.
This video features a couple of iterations of the sequence to get you started. Feel free to tack it on to a longer practice or use it as a short and sweet antidote to jet lag or a bad hair day.
Oh, and just in case you were thinking “The Vata” is all there is, rest assured that I wouldn't leave you hanging. The pitta and kapha versions are on their way, so stayed tuned and let me know what you think of the vata!