Yoga relies heavily on observance to the environment. The sun, as the provider of light & heat, is a principle component of these observations.
Traditionally Sun Salutations (Suryanamaskara) are performed upon arising while facing the Sun. This makes the front side of the body the east side, and the back side the west side. Many yoga poses when translated from the Sanskrit refer to the body in this manner. Thus Pachimottanasana is literally pachima = west, uttana = intense stretch or intense west side stretch: commonly known as Seated Forward Bend.
Sun Salutation is actually a sequence of poses which flow together with the breath. Each inhalation and exhalation leading to a new pose. This sequence stretches the major muscles and develops concentration. There are a number of versions to Sun Salutation, the traditional version has 12 poses joined together. I enjoy this clear, precise video instructional which your students can follow along with. [media id=5]
It only takes a few moments to do one Sun Salutation. Once you feel the heat beginning to flow, continue with this coordination of movement and breath for 10 minutes or longer. This tunes your body to the stimulating power of the sun and creates a positive frame of mind.
If you are looking for a challenge there are groups that celebrate the fall/spring equinox and World Peace Day (Sept 21) with 108 repetitons of Sun Salutation as a form of moving meditation. Check out this article from Prana Flow NZ for more on how this feels. I think this is the yogic equivalent of running a marathon, but am intrigued by the idea and will begin to add one more Sun Salutation to my morning practice each day in order train my body for such an endeavor. You may want to consider learning Sun Salutations with your kids and then perform a few rounds (kids definitely should not be doing 108 of these) in honor of this celebration.
I hope that as your kids study the sun, you will explore Sun Salutations as a kinaesthetic learning methodology. For a more indepth look at Sun Salutations read Here Comes the Sun by Richard Rosen at Yoga Journal. Greet the sun; enjoy good health and a positive outlook.
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