Tip of the Week
While excessive sun exposure can be harmful to our skin, a few minutes per day, may be helpful to our body in the production of this precious vitamin.
Let’s then work on our posture, flexibility, body alignment, and peace of mind by starting every day with a few yoga sun salutations. Open up your bedroom door and step outside in your backyard, go to a nearby park or step onto the soothing sand of your favorite beach and open up your mind and body to the benefits of the sun.
Basic Sun Salutation
Practice each individual pose and then perform them in a smooth flow in the basic sun salutation. Begin with 3–5 repetitions of the sun salutation and work up to a 20- to 30-minute session. You can also use this exercise as a functional mind-body warm-up for other fitness activities. At the beginning of a yoga practice, three repetitions of the basic sun salutation will prepare your body for more intense poses in your favorite yoga style.
Equipment needed: yoga mat or any anti-slip soft surface to prevent pain and slight bruising of knees, hips and feet.
- Relax shoulders down.
- Arms resting alongside your body.
- Lift breastbone.
- Align hip bones over ankles.
- Lift arches, keeping equal weight distribution through whole foot.
- Look upward and lift breastbone.
- Inhale and keep head in alignment with your spine as it extends.
- Draw shoulders down as arms lift out to sides and overhead.
- Keep chest lifted, pelvis neutral and tailbone down.
- Maintain equal weight distribution on both feet.
- Exhaling, hinge from your hips keeping your back neutral.
- Keep tailbone lifted.
- Reach down with your hands, releasing into flexion during the last third of the movement, and try to place your hands on the floor.
- Relax your head down.
- Lift kneecaps.
Standing Half Forward Bend
- Inhale and extend your spine, lifting breastbone and drawing shoulder blades down.
- Keep tailbone lifted.
- Distribute your weight evenly over your feet, with knees straight and hands on the floor.
- Lift kneecaps.
- Align ears with shoulders.
- Exhale and step back into lower push-up position, hands under your shoulders, front of shoulders open and square.
- Contract your abdominals to support your spine.
- Distribute weight through whole hand, not just wrist.
- Draw shoulder blades down.
- Keep elbows close to rib cage.
- Maintain neutral alignment of your head, neck and spine.
- Press heels away.
Upward Facing Dog
- Look upward. Inhale, flatten top of feet and lift torso upward and back, rolling your shoulders.
- Keep hips on your mat, legs stretched away from your torso.
- Keep hands aligned with shoulders.
- Rotate shoulders out, with no compression.
- Point toes.
Downward Facing Dog
- Exhale and reach upward with tailbone
- Lower torso and tuck toes under.
- Keep tailbone lifted
- Position head between arms with neck relaxed.
- Put weight on base of fingers and spread weight across your entire hand, not just your wrist.
- Press ribs toward thighs, and lift kneecaps.
- Bend knees, if necessary to maintain neutral spinal alignment, and press heels toward floor.
Complete Sun Salutation Cycle
Enjoy your mind, body and…vitamin D.
According to Ayleen Marganian, MS, RD, CN, CLE,
“Vitamin D may be a key to healthier, more active aging. That’s what current studies are trying to determine. Vitamin D plays a role in musculoskeletal, immune, neurological, and cardiovascular health. One recent study in elderly subjects showed an association between higher circulating vitamin D levels and greater long-term health and physical function. Research also suggests that adequate vitamin D nutrition may help protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, certain autoimmune diseases, and other serious conditions. Nearly 3 out of 4 adults and teens may be deficient in the “sunshine” vitamin. Deficiency risk increases with age, skin pigment, and limited sunlight exposure, and is also associated with diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease or other gastrointestinal disorders—such as fat malabsorption. A good source of vitamin D may be hard to find. Our bodies manufacture vitamin D3 when skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet-B rays—which can be blocked by both windows and sunscreen, and vitamin D is found naturally only in a few foods (e.g., fish, eggs).”