I wrote about the Seated Sun Exercises in a BLOG in 2013, but I would like to add to it since I now have a YouTube Video that shows how to do them. There are 2 models in the video, both shown seated. One is Theresa, who has MS and is the person for whom I created this sequence about 20 years ago. She was wheel-chair-bound then and after having been a dancer for many years, she told me she really missed moving and so I created a way for her “flow” while seated. I asked if she would like to be in this video since if it had not been for her, I may not have created the routine, and she graciously accepted. The second model is my 68-year-old husband Colby who has some arthritis. I thought he would be representative of many who could find this routine unintimidating and beneficial. I have been teaching this series to all of my students ever since I created them. 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 15, 2013 blog on Seated Mountain Pose.) Here is the sequence:
- 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.
- As you exhale, slowly lower your hands down on either side of your legs.
- 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.
- As you exhale, roll down over your right thigh, letting your arms drop towards the floor and relax your head and neck.
- 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. Keep your pelvis stable by not tilting it back.
- 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.
- 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.
- Exhaling, roll down over your left leg (as in #4).
- Inhale and lift your left leg (as in #5).
- As you lower the leg, roll down between both legs (as in #6).
- Inhale slowly as you role up to a sitting position, lifting your arms up high (as in #3).
- As you exhale, lower your arms and return to the starting position with your hands in Namasté (as in #1).
Repeat the sequence 2-4 times, or as many times as you feel like doing it!
This might appear more complicated than it really is, but CLICK HERE to look at the YouTube video to see how to do each pose and that will help you. Also, you can just follow along with the video and that way you won’t have to think about what comes next! Hopefully, with time, though, you will learn to do the sequence on your own. 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 work on your breathing.
There is no weight-bearing for the arms and hands, as there is in the standard Sun Exercises, so here is a an additional variation that you can add to the series at the end for arm strengthening:
- Sitting as you were above, place both hands on the chair seat on either side of your thighs.
- Push down with your hands, keeping your trunk upright (not bent forward), and feel yourself lift your weight slightly off the chair.
- DO NOT tilt your pelvis and try to lift your sitting bones off the seat. Instead, just feel the weight lift off your sitting bones as you push down, and then feel the strengthening in your wrists, elbows and shoulders..
- Hold for 3 breaths, rest and then repeat.
Give this additional variation a try, and if you like it, add it to the end after you have completed your last round of the Seated Sun Exercises!
In the YouTube video, you may have noticed that the models are wearing tee-shirts with some stick figures on them. Look closely and you will see that this graphic shows you how to do the whole sequence!! Check out the design by clicking on CAFÉ PRESS on my HOME page. You can have this design made on tees, totes, mugs, even bibs and kids clothes, etc. to remind yourself and others how to do it! Meanwhile, I hope you share and enjoy these Seated Sun Exercises and do them often!
If you have any question or comments, feel free to write on my Ask Shoosh page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.