SEATED SUN EXERCISES

A few decades ago, a yoga student and friend of mine with MS told me she missed dancing and moving because she was in a wheelchair. So, I created a seated version of the Sun Exercises for her so she could “flow” and have been teaching it to all of my students ever since. For those who cannot get up and down from the floor, this series can be a very beneficial adaptation. For those who are capable of the standard version but maybe are tired or don’t have space to do them (like at work), this version can be energizing and certainly a good substitute on occasion.

This not a difficult series. Your breath will change with each position: when you move forward/down, you are exhaling, and positions when you are lifting up or arching back, you are inhaling. You can be creative and vary this by holding each position for more than one breath, but that will change the flow of the series.

Start by sitting comfortably at the front edge of a sturdy chair. (See my May 15th blog on Seated Mountain Pose.) Here is the sequence:

  1. Start sitting up tall with your hands at chest level in Namasté (prayer) position with your thumbs on your sternum. (A teacher of mine showed me this variation that I like: it connects the thumbs to the heart, but placing your thumbs on your sternum is optional.)  Inhale.
  2. As you exhale, slowly lower your hands down on either side of your legs.
  3. Inhale and raise your arms out to the sides, rolling your open palms forward until they are facing up, then lifting them as high as you can. End up with your arms straight up on either side of your head, with the palms facing each other.
  4. As you exhale, roll down over your right thigh, letting your arms drop towards the floor and relax your head and neck.
  5. Grab under your right thigh with both hands and as you inhale and slowly roll up, lift your bent knee as high as you can without tilting back on your pelvis.
  6. Lower your right leg and, exhaling, roll down between both legs and hang there. If this is uncomfortable, bend forward and rest your elbows on your knees and relax your head and neck slightly forward, instead.
  7. During the next inhalation, roll up and bring both hands behind you on the sides of the chair seat. Arch back and if your neck allows it, look up. This is a cobra variation and will open your chest.
  8. Exhaling, roll down over your left leg (as in #4).
  9. Inhale and lift your left leg (as in #5).
  10. As you lower the leg, roll down between both legs (as in #6).
  11. Inhale slowly as you role up to a sitting position, lifting your arms up high (as in #3).
  12. As you exhale, lower your arms and return to the starting position with your hands in Namasté (as in #1).

This might appear more complicated than it really is, yet it is actually just a few poses, repeated on each side. It provides a nice flowing movement, you stretch and lengthen your spine both forward and backward, you work the hip flexors by lifting each leg (as in a lunge), you get some inversion by rolling forward with your head down, and you get breath work.  There is no weight-bearing for the arms and hands, as there is in the standard Sun Exercises, and in another blog post I’ll talk about how I address this. Give this series a try!

I am working on a YouTube video that will show two models doing this series and plan to post it before the end of November.  I also am making this series into my newest graphic design, so you can have it on tees, totes, mugs, etc. to remind yourself and others how to do it!  Keep checking back here at my website to see when these are completed. Meanwhile, I hope you share and enjoy these and do them often!

If you have any question or comments, feel free to email me at shsh@yogawithshoosh.com.

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