by Kara-Leah Grant
Welcome to the second Creative Sun Salutation flow here on The Yoga Lunchbox.
When I teach and practice yoga, my tendency is to work with different energies on the mat, cultivating those energies as required, depending what’s going on in my life at that time.
I developed it through asking myself on the mat, how do I cultivate abundance in my practice and in my life?
Then, I followed my intuitive flow to see where the practice took me.
I wasn’t surprised to see that back-bending played a key part in an Abundance Sun Salutation, but I was surprised at how that was balanced firmly by movements that provided connection to the earth and nourishment.
As the practice developed, it became about a flow between grounding and nourishing one’s energy while surrendering to the earth, and opening and flowering towards the sky while offering one’s fruits to the world.
It became clear to me that both of these energies need to be present. We need to have a balance in our lives between turning inward and surrendering to that which holds us and nourishes us, and expanding outward, releasing our gifts to the world.
This interplay of energies reflects the empowered energy of Shakti within – the divine feminine, something we all contain, whether we’re male or female.
We all need to know how to nourish ourselves and surrender to the flow of life as it is. But we also need to know how to step into our power and offer our gifts to the world. This is when feminine energy becomes empowered – that is, we can sense our own self-worth arising simply because we exist and we move out of that space. We’re not looking to other people for validation or approval. We’re simply expressing who we are.
All this in a yoga practice?
Well yes – this way of practicing takes our practice of asana and shifts it to an intimate dance of the self with the Divine.
This week, we start with the mudra we’ll use at the beginning of every sun salutation, and a variation of uttanasana or forward fold.
Just as there are many mudras we can use to start our practice – not just anjali mudra (hands in prayer at the heart centre) so too are there many ways we can approach forward fold, and each has a slightly different energy behind it.
The way that we vary these standard aspects of sun salutation – Tadasana + Mudra, Uttanasana – sets both the energetic intention for the practice but also physically and energetically opens the body in preparation for the asana that follow.
The opening mudra is particular important because mudras activate the way energy flows in our body, which creates a particular feeling sense. In this variation of Sun Salutation, I use Lotus Mudra, in all three parts. Each part reflects the journey we can as we learn how to simultaneously open to abundance and cultivate abundance in our lives.
As we’ll be doing backbends later on, I use a form of Uttanasana that focused on releasing the shoulders and freeing up the thoracic spine while cultivating stability and integrity through the lumber spine.
It may also be useful to review this video, which looks at the ways in which our energy ascends up the front of the body, and descends down the back of the body, How to work with the Ascending & Descending Breath.
I make no claim of originality on this variation of Sun Salutation. I’ve studied with many teachers, including Shiva Rea and Twee Merrigan.
While this combination of asana and mudra arose in my practice this year, I may have learned this same flow in it’s entirety from another teacher.
The flowering of Lotus Mudra and the potentiality of Lotus Mudra I first experienced in class with Twee, along with many other components of this practice including circular sun salutations, using forward bends or squats to transition between sides, and variations of Warrior I. I don’t recall if we did a flow exactly the same as this with Twee, or with Shiva.
Finally, this series is designed to give you a focus on your home yoga practice for forty days. I will publish one video every week, six in total. The intention is that you start with the creative sun salutation, playing with the postures we cover each week, and going into your own intuitive flow afterward, or simply moving into a closing sequence.
For this week, we do Lotus Mudra sitting down, but to create flow, it’s best down standing up in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) before going into the variation of Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold).
After that, you may wish to do a standard sun salutation, ending and starting each one with our variations of Tadasana + Lotus Mudra and Uttanasana.
If you have any questions about the practice, please leave a comment.
And if you’d like to sign up to become an Insider, which costs only $NZ35/yr or $5/month, you can do so here.
How to Cultivate Abundance on the Yoga Mat Part 1
Want to experience more Abundance on the Yoga Mat?
You can sign up for workshop I’m teaching in Napier, December 12 & 13 2014, The Bhavana Immersion.
We’re covering four feeling states, including abundance. Find out more here.