Artful Alignment Sun Salutation

Pranayama – Breath Work – Soft Belly Breath

Practice soft belly breathing for each pose.

  • Breathe in and out through the nostrils. 
  • Inhale your breath slowly into your belly and fill your abdominal area completely.
  • Retain (hold) the breath for 3 seconds. 
  • Exhale your breath slowly releasing the air and tension out of your belly.
  • Retain (hold) the breath for 3 seconds. 

Artful Alignment Sun Salutation

 Tadasana – Standing Mountain 
 

  • In Standing Mountain, place a yoga block between your upper inner thighs and squeeze inward.

  • Press down through your big toes.

  • Spread out your other toes.

  • Extend your inner and outer heels backward.

  • Resist your lower shins forward.

  • Resist your upper thighs backward.
  • Place your hands on your hips and draw the tips of the hips to towards the navel, while pressing down through your heels. 

Uttanasana – Standing Forward Flexion

  • In Standing Mountain, keep the block between your upper inner thighs and squeeze inward. 
  • Fold forward at the hips and place your hands either on the mat, your shins, or the blocks.  
  • Bend your knees if your hamstrings are tight.
  • Place your hands on the mat or on your shins and draw your inner shoulder blades towards your spine.
  • Remove the inner thigh block and take one foot back at a time, hip width apart.
  • Set up in Downward Facing Dog. 

Adhomukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog with Leg Lifts

  • In Downward Facing Dog, lift one leg from the inner thigh, keeping your hips as level as possible.
  • Grab the outside edges of the mat and draw your shoulder blades towards the spine.
  • Pull your diaphragm and navel towards the spine.
  • With the other foot that is on the mat, connect down through your big toe, spread out all your toes, and extend your inner and outer heels back. Resist the thigh backward by pulling the front of your thigh (quadricep) muscle toward the thigh (femur) bone, and resist your lower shin forward.
  • Bring the lifted leg down to the mat.
  • Lift the other leg from the inner thigh, keeping your hips as level as possible.  
  • Repeat the directions on the second side. 

Incline – Plank 

  • Set up in push-up position with your hands placed under your shoulders. Firm up your inner elbows. 

  • Pull your belly and diaphragm upward towards the spine. 

  • Pull the front of your quadriceps (thigh muscles) towards the thigh (femur) bone.
  • Extend your inner and outer heels back.
  • Externally rotate the upper arms, and then internally rotate the forearms by gently pressing your thumbs and pointer fingers downward into the mat. 
  • Hold the pose for 5-10 belly breaths. 

Chaturanga Dandasana – Staff Pose


  • Try this pose on your belly with two blocks.

  • Place one block at the sternum area.

  • Place the second block below the navel area, near the hips.

  • Like a straight board, lift your whole body two or three inches off the blocks. 
  • Hold the pose for as long as what is comfortable for you. 
  • Repeat 3 x. 

Kneeling Table
with Arm and Leg Lifts

  • Move onto all fours.
  • Place your your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Firm up your inner elbows.
  • Inhale, pull your navel (belly) towards your spine.

  • Exhale, relax your spine between your shoulder blades. 

  • Lengthen your neck.

  • Gently lift the back of your head with the least amount of facial strain. 
  • Lift and extend the right arm over your head and extend the left leg behind you. 
  • Flex and extend the right elbow and left knee 10 x. 
  • Place your right hand and left knee on the mat.
  • Lift and extend the left arm over your head and extend the right leg behind you. 
  • Flex and extend the left elbow and right knee 10 x. 
  • Place your left hand and right knee on the mat.
  • Repeat 3x on each side. 

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog


  • Lay on your belly and place the palm of your hands comfortably on the mat, near the torso and close to your shoulders. 
  • Place your feet in prone position (toes pointed).

  • Press down through your hands, and press your torso upwards. If possible, firm up your inner elbows. 
  • Lift your hips slightly up off the mat by pressing all your toes into the mat and pulling the front of your thighs (quadriceps) muscles towards the thigh (femur) bone.
  • Open the front of your chest by gently externally rotating the upper arm and pulling the backside of the upper arm (tricep) muscles towards the upper arm (humerus) bone. 
  • Gently draw your inner shoulder blades towards the spine and down your back.
  • Continue to pull the entire front of legs upward towards the thigh (femur) bones and shin bones.
  • Draw the tips of hips towards the navel (belly).  
  • Hold the pose for as long as what is comfortable for you. 
  • Gently lower yourself onto the mat, cross your arms over your head, and rest your head on your arms. Relax.
  • Repeat the pose 3x. 

Salabhasana – Locust 


  • Lay on your belly with your feet in prone (toes pointed) position. 

  • Place your hands along side the torso, palms facing upward, and firm up your elbows.
  • Lift the torso by gently pressing the hands into the mat, while lifting the navel and the diaphragm upward towards the spine.
  • Make sure the tips of your hips move towards the navel (narrowing effect), while doming the upper torso.  
  • Press the knees together, and lift the legs up off the mat by pulling the front of the thighs (quadriceps) muscles towards the thigh (femur) bone. 
  • Hold the pose for as long as what is comfortable for you. 
  • Gently lower yourself onto the mat, cross your arms over your head, and rest your head on your arms. Relax.
  • Repeat the pose 3x. 

Salabhasana with Bent Knees – Locust


  • Lay on your belly and place your hands next to your torso. 

  • Point your elbows backwards and lift your torso and navel slightly. 
  • Make sure the tips of your hips move towards the navel (narrowing effect), while doming the upper torso.
  • Point your toes backward (prone foot).
  • Keep the left foot on the mat and straighten the leg by engaging the thigh (quadricep) muscle towards the thigh (femur) bone, firming up the kneecap.  

  • Lift your right leg up by pulling the front of your thigh towards the femur (thigh) bone.
  • Flex and extend the right knee 10 x.

  • Place your right leg down and straighten the leg by engaging the thigh (quadricep) muscle towards the thigh (femur) bone, firming up the kneecap. 

  • Lift your left leg up by puling the front of thigh towards the femur (thigh) bone.
  • Flex and extend the left knee 10 x.   
  • Gently lower yourself onto the mat, cross your arms over your head, and rest your head on your arms. Relax.
  • Repeat the pose 3x on each side. 

Salabhasana – Repeat Cobras

  • Lay on your belly and place your hands next to the torso. 

  • Point your elbows backward. 
  • Point your toes backward (prone foot). 
  • Engage the front of your thigh (quadricep) muscles toward the thigh (femur) bone, firming up the kneecaps.  

  • Make sure the tips of your hips move towards the navel (narrowing effect), while doming the upper torso.  
  • Lift the torso by gently pressing the hands into the mat, while lifting the navel and the diaphragm upward towards the spine.
  • Lift the torso upwards (inhale) and downwards (exhale). Repeat Cobra 10 x. 
  • Gently lower yourself onto the mat, cross your arms over your head, and rest your head on your arms. Relax.

Adhomukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog with Leg Lifts

  • In Downward Facing Dog, lift one leg from the inner thigh, keeping your hips as level as possible.
  • Grab the outside edges of the mat and draw your shoulder blades towards the spine.
  • Pull your diaphragm and navel towards the spine.
  • With the other foot that is on the mat, connect down through your big toe, spread out all your toes, and extend your inner and outer heels back. Resist the thigh backward by pulling the front of your thigh (quadricep) muscle toward the thigh (femur) bone, and resist your lower shin forward.
  • Bring the lifted leg down to the mat.
  • Lift the other leg from the inner thigh, keeping your hips as level as possible.  
  • Repeat the directions on the second side. 

Kneeling Table
with Arm and Leg Lifts

  • Move onto all fours.
  • Place your your hands under your shoulders and slightly forward. Firm up your inner elbows.
  • Inhale, pull your navel (belly) towards your spine.

  • Exhale, relax your spine between the shoulder blades. 

  • Lengthen your neck.

  • Gently lift the back of your head with the least amount of facial strain. 
  • Lift and extend the right arm over your head and extend the left leg behind you. 
  • Flex and extend the right elbow and left knee 10 x. 
  • Place your right hand and left knee on the mat.
  • Lift and extend the left arm over your head and extend the right leg behind you. 
  • Flex and extend the left elbow and right knee 10 x. 
  • Place your left hand and right  knee on the mat.
  • Repeat 3x on each side. 

Adhomukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog with Leg Lifts

  • In Downward Facing Dog, lift one leg from the inner thigh, keeping your hips as level as possible.
  • Grab the outside edges of the mat and draw your shoulder blades towards the spine.
  • Pull your diaphragm and navel towards the spine.
  • With the other foot that is on the mat, connect down through your big toe, spread out all your toes, and extend your inner and outer heels back. Resist the thigh backward by pulling the front of your thigh (quadricep) muscle toward the thigh (femur) bone, and resist your lower shin forward.
  • Bring the lifted leg down to the mat.
  • Lift the other leg from the inner thigh, keeping your hips as level as possible.  
  • Repeat the directions on the second side. 
  • From Downward Facing Dog, add a block between your upper inner thighs and walk your hands back towards your feet to Standing Forward Flexion (Uttanasana). 

Uttanasana – Standing Forward Flexion


  • Fold forward at the hips and place your hands on either the mat, your shins, or the blocks.
  • Bend your knees if  your hamstrings are tight.
  • Squeeze the upper inner thighs into the block. 
  • Place your hands on the mat or on your shins, and draw your inner shoulder blades towards your spine.
  • Hold the pose for 5-10 belly breaths. 

Tadasana – Standing Mountain 


  • With the yoga block between your upper inner thighs, squeeze inward. 
  • Press downward through your big toes. 
  • Spread out your other toes.
  • Extend your inner and outer heels back.
  • Resist your lower shins forward.
  • Resist your thighs backward.

 Savasana – Corpse Pose 


  • Lay on your back on the mat.

  • Relax your arms and legs.
  • Draw your shoulder blades towards the spine. 

  • Connect with your breath and relax for 12 minutes. 

 

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