I’m not sure if Aldous Huxley ever attempted a downward-facing dog pose but I’m certain he’d appreciate how the ancient practice of yoga is part of a “brave new world.” The earliest archaeological evidence of yoga’s existence dates back to around 3000 BC and has survived because we humans need it to remind us about posture, breathing, meditation and taking responsibility for our health.
The benefits of yoga are well documented—increased strength and flexibility, stress release, management of chronic conditions and overall well-being—and an estimated 16 million Americans practice it regularly. Getting started can be as simple as learning a foundation sequence of postures known as the Sun Salutation. These 12 “stations” are eight different poses with some performed twice. The routine begins with the mountain pose. As you move from one pose to the next always be aware of your breathing. Each posture requires individual practice before the sequence flows smoothly.
1. Mountain Pose: Stand with big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Legs are firm but not tense, arms are loose at sides. Collarbone should feel open and wide and spine long and strong. Inhale.
2. Upward Salute: Keep arms shoulder-width apart and lift hands. Feel the full stretch, exhale as you lower your arms.
3. Standing Forward Bend: Fold at waist to bring chest to knees and hands flat on the floor (or yoga blocks).
4. Lunge: Exhale and step right leg back. Dip knee to floor and arch back as you look up.
5. Plank: Inhale as you move the left foot back to join the right. Keep arms straight.
6. Four-Limbed Staff: Exhale and lower knees to floor and slowly lower chest down. Keep elbows tight to sides.
7. Upward-Facing Dog: Inhale and stretch legs back, push palms to floor straightening arms and arching the torso.
8. Downward-Facing Dog: Exhale and lift knees away from the floor pushing hips into the air.
Inhale as you step the right foot forward back into another Lunge. The left foot moves alongside the right with an exhale into Standing Forward Bend before inhaling up to Upward Salute. This sequence concludes by exhaling back into Mountain Pose before beginning again, with the left foot moving first into the Lunge. Perform the Sun Salutation daily.
Final note: The advice presented above is not meant for anyone with contraindicated health problems. Please consult a medical or fitness professional.