Flows for Florists: Sun Salutations

Flows for Florists: Sun Salutations

Yoga transformed my life, from its philosophies to its asana practices, where we bring together the mind with the body through the breath through creating a sequence of opening, releasing, strengthening, and toning shapes with our bodies that coordinate with the breath.


I was fortunate enough to be introduced to yoga as a child when I went to a Hatha class with my mother during her discovery of it as a healing, strengthening, and spiritual practice. It was just a taste, but it gave me a sense of something deeply unifying and grounding that I might need further down the road.


I found yoga again as a graduate student when I was stressed about my thesis and going through a tough breakup, while trying to get a grip on it all and find a sense of calm and agency by running too much. After several marathons and half-marathons in a row, I had an ankle injury that stopped me in my tracks. 


At that time, having used running as a kind of medication for years, I was both panicked and eager to find a new physical outlet that could bring me that quiet, mind-body connection and calm I had come to need and know so well.



Enter my yoga practice. I found a Groupon to a local studio and thought: "I guess I'll try this." I left after my first class thinking: "This is going to save my life." My practice gave me a structure and a method for healing, not to mention attuning connection with others in a community of people moving and breathing together. I The holistic benefits of the experience inspired me to do a yoga teacher training at that studio, which empowered me to guide others in this practice.


Fast forward quite a few years no into my floral design and entrepreneurship era, and I am thankful every day for many ways a yoga practice helps keep me flexible, grounded, and open, even through the busiest or most uncertain times of growth in this business. Now I want to share with you a fundamental and brief practice, in the way it was taught to me, because this one serves as a perfect morning warmup, an afternoon refresh, or an evening unwind. It takes only a couple of minutes to do one, and you can repeat the sequence 3-5 times in about 10 minutes. 


This is called Surya Namaskara A, or the first Sun Salutation Sequence:


STEP 0 — Stand at the top of your mat, spine aligned, feet together on the mat, feeling grounded and as though a string were lightly lifting from the top of your head. Tuck your hips under a bit (take any sway out of your back), broaden your chest, and relax your shoulders down your back.



STEP 1 — Inhale as you lift your arms up, gazing up, pressing your palms together above you. This is the first move to open the front of the body and bring in new life and refreshed energy with your inhaled breath. Draw the breath in slowly and with intention.



STEP 2 — Exhale as you draw your navel inward and fold forward, releasing the breath and releasing your body forward. You can keep a gentle bend in the knees. This is your first move to release the past and anything stuck or weighing on you as you exhale.



STEP 3 — Inhale as you lift your head up and look up, extending your spine long. You can lift your hands up or place them on your shins. Once again we are drawing in fresh breath and opening and refreshing the body.



STEP 4 (A and B) — Exhale as you step your feet back into a high plank, then lower your body down to a low pushup position. You can lower to the ground all the way if you like, or keep the core active and stay on the palms of your hands and your toes for this moment. In this one exhale movement, think of pressing out of your body any tense or stuck energy.



STEP 5 — Inhale, drawing in fresh energy as you lift and open your chest, opening your hip flexors and gazing slightly upward. Your wrists should be in line beneath your shoulders. This is a gentle, opening movement, so don't force anything or worry about arching your back. Just gently broaden the chest and drop your shoulders back and down.



STEP 6 — Exhale slowly as you pull from your core, gently lifting your hips up and backward as you roll over your toes, and push your body back into Downward-Facing Dog position. Once here, take 5 slow inhales and exhales. Relax your neck and expand the space between your shoulders and ears by drawing your shoulder blades down your back. Lift your hips and gently press your heels down. Here again we are in a forward fold that allows us to release the past, release stuck energy, and deeply relax. (Note that if 5 breaths here is too much, you can go all the way back to Child's Pose for this if you prefer.)



STEP 7 — Inhale as you walk your feet forward to the top of your mat, extending your spine long, and gently gazing up. Again we invite fresh oxygen and energy into the body as we extend and open.



STEP 8 — Exhale as you draw your navel inward and fold forward, relaxing and releasing your whole body. Relax your neck fully and keep a very slight bend in the knees.



STEP 9 — Inhale as you press your feet into the ground and stand fully upright, extending the arms and pressing the palms of the hands together, gazing upward, as you open and draw in new life one more time.



STEP 10 — Exhale as you return to the standing position where you began. This posture is called Samasthiti, which is pronounced "samas-thee-ti-he). This is your equilibrium pose, standing peacefully where you begin and conclude this gently refreshing and releasing sequence.


If you're feeling satisfied, or that's what time permits, perfect! If you have time, try 2 or 3 or 5 more. You can do 10 if you want to. Just go slowly and really connect your mental focus and the movements of your body with the steady inhale and exhale of your breath.


See how you feel after this simple warmup or unwind flow, and let me know. It certainly has helped me as a floral artist to release neck, shoulder, and back tension, not to mention to improve my energy level and mood.


Happy flowing,




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