Our Practice – Sun Salutations – Surya Namaskar
Most vinyasa flow yoga classes begin the standing portion of class with one of the sun salutations. The Sanskrit word surya means sun and namaskar means salutations or bow down. Essentially, this is a series of poses to honor the sun which brings energy and light; the poses awaken the body and are traditionally practiced early in the morning facing east.
I know I find myself sometimes moving through them without much thought, for a beginner they can be challenging as they move quickly, and for a yogi with a full practice they can be sloppy and a catalyst for injury. This week in class I plan to spend some time breaking down the classic Sun A and will share some tips while we practice.
A few things to consider:
Corkscrew the hands into the mat and grip with fingers to relieve some wrist pressure.
Keep a gentle bend in the knees, no locking or hyperextension.
Common yogi cue is to externally rotate the arms moving eyes of the elbows toward front of mat. Your body may call for a bit of inward rotation for shoulder comfort, experiment.
In chaturanga only lower so elbows are just above shoulder line. Your elbows should not be higher than shoulders, at most perfectly in line in a 90-degree angle inside elbow.
Below is a link to an article I recently read and really liked about practicing chatarunga safely.
Meditation on Positive Word and Action
Over the past week I was on vacation and spent time with some of my oldest friends. It is always restorative and joyful. It did get me thinking, however, about how even in the oldest and most enduring relationships, clear communication and intention is so critical. One of my friends often references “emotional intelligence” – a powerful concept. Over the years, I have learned that actions and words that can seem inconsequential to some can feel injurious to others. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz simply talks about the power of being impeccable with your word and also not taking things personally. One of my takeaways from the book was that even when someone does something hurtful or insulting, “it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their minds.” You cannot control what people do or say, but only how you react. Understanding that one’s actions and words come from their own challenges can be impactful on our own wellbeing. Being impeccable with your word comes down to the adage our grandmothers taught us “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing”. This philosophy carries over to actions, taking the time to stop and think how they may impact others, even if the intent has no malice, is a critical piece of achieving emotional intelligence. As one who has rather thin skin but who also values my cherished relationships with a vengeance, I am acutely aware of this challenge and continue to meet it purposefully.
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you cannot help them, at least don't hurt them”. – Dalai Lama
Nurturing with Food – Tabouli
When I was a kid growing up in the 70’s, my parents hosted a lot of dinner parties. One of the staples (probably given the abundance of tomatoes, mint, parsley, scallions, and cucumbers my dad grew) of these gatherings was tabouli. I did not like it at all and refused to eat it. Years later, on a summer visit either in college or shortly thereafter, I tried it again. Loved it. Could not get enough of it. Since then, it has become a staple of my summer entertaining (we also have many of these things growing over the summer) because I love it. My Dad’s basic recipe has been modified from his purist version to include some additional ingredients. When I originally sent this recipe to my friend Pat, she called and said, “what about the step where you use your hands on the scallions to get the flavor in”? This recipe includes that step!