Egyptian Sun Salutation sequence

Try this slow, self-inquiring variation of the Sun Salutation

Helen Noakes moving from 8 pointed pose to a cat wave

Developed by Elizabeth Paunz and inspired by Egyptian wall paintings, this Sun Salutation is a slow, self-enquiring approach to the ancient tradition of honouring the sun. 

While practising, allow the breath to flow and rest in itself, don't force or push any movement and choose the transitions to suit your body. Listen to the sensations beneath the skin and feel the spine naturally lengthening in two directions.

1. Gentle standing backbend

Place your feet in Tadasana position with stable, alive feet and bring your palms together, thumbs resting at the chest. Then glide your hands apart and open the palms towards the sky, unfolding into a gentle standing backbend. Imagine receiving hundreds of rose petals into your palms. Head looks gently up to the hands and the eyes focus on the hand mudra.

Tadasana, arms raised

1. Gentle standing backbend

2. Half standing forward fold

Hinge forward into bent-kneed Uttanasana with a long back. Sink the thigh bones deep into the hip joints and take your gaze slightly forward. Land here with the ribs resting onto the thighs.

Helen Noakes, Ardha Uttanasana

2. Half standing forward fold

3. High lunge

Step your right foot back into a high lunge, back heel strongly reaching back, front knee stacked over the front ankle. Relax the back of the neck, eyes gaze onto the floor and feel the aliveness of the feet.

Lunge

3. High lunge

4. Plank pose

Step the left foot back to meet the right. Heels are lengthening away, spine is relaxed, abdomen activated, shoulder blades wide. Slightly round your upper back and keep your neck in a neutral position, chin pointing downwards. Try not to lock or hyper-extend the elbows.

Helen Noakes, plank pose

4. Plank pose

5. Egyptian baby

Keep your toes tucked under, press into the palms of your hands and sit back on your heels. You can gaze a little upwards but keep your neck relaxed. 

Egyptian baby pose

5. Egyptian baby

6. Cat wave

Lift your hips and round the upper spine into Cat pose and then using a wave-like transition, begin to dip the chest towards the floor with the elbows lifted. Keep the toes tucked and the elbows close to the sides of the ribs. 

Wave from Cat to Up dog

6. Cat wave

Practise in class with Helen!

This sequence is easy to learn and you will be guided into each posture with visualisations. This focuses the mind, deepens the breath experience and helps create softness and vitality.

7. Eight-pointed star 

If available to you, let the chest make contact with the floor or mat between the hands. Depending on the flexibility of your lower back you may have 8 points of contact on the floor - the chin, chest, both hands, both knees and both feet. 

8 pointed star

7. Eight-pointed star

8. Upward Facing Dog variation

Leading with the pelvis, move the hips forward and bring the chest through the gateway of the hands to come into an Upward Facing Dog variation. Keep your elbows slightly soft and rest your head on top of the spine without throwing the chin back. Allow the pelvis to rest on an imaginary cushion. Keeping the legs close together can help stabilise the lower back, or wide legs and a 'buoyant' pelvis can help relieve sacroiliac issues.

Upward facing dog variation

8. Upward Facing Dog variation

9. Downward Facing Dog

Keeping your knees on the floor, press the hips back and up into a Downward Facing Dog pose. Hover your heels off the floor and keep your knees soft. Feel your spine relaxing in its axis, allowing a natural wave to express itself through the body. Feel the weight bearing down through the outside of the hands and wrists and relax the back of the neck.

Downward facing dog

9. Downward Facing Dog

10. Low lunge

Step your right foot to your right thumb and gently lower your back knee down. Experiment with floating your front knee forward past the toes to stretch the calf and strengthen the ankle and the foot.

Easy lunge

10. Low lunge

11. Float up

Press into the ball of the left foot and propel that foot forward to join the right, coming into a Standing Forward Fold with the knees bent. Keeping your knees bent and spine long, press firmly into the feet and spread your arms out wide.

Uttanasana float up

11. Float up

12. Standing back bend

Let the arms float up by the sides like the rising sun until they reach above the head. Move your pelvis slightly forward and lift your breastbone to the sky. You can bring your palms together in a loose Namaste, feet alive and grounded, chin slightly tucked.

Standing backbend

12. Standing backbend

13. Mountain pose

Bring your palms down the centre line of the body and let them rest back at the chest. Elbows are wide, fingers active, feet alive, spine lengthens in 2 directions. Feel the energy and breath flow through your whole body...

Tadasana

13. Mountain pose

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