Introduction to Sun Breath Arm Sweeps
As a strategy, breaking longer sequences or featured yoga poses into smaller segments is a great way to warm the body up and prepare for what’s to come later in your practice. For example, Sun Breath arm sweeps are a wonderful way to start your yoga practice!
Sweeping the arms out and up or forward and up is the traditional start to any sun salutation. In this case you’ll be isolating just that part of the movement with the focus on the expansion of your chest, getting your juices flowing, joints gently moving, and waking up your breath.
Sun breath is one of those yoga poses that can be done in any position–seated on the floor or in a chair, kneeling, or standing. It is a wonderful tool to use for increasing awareness of the vital link between the breath and movement in yoga.
How to Practice
- Begin sitting on the floor or in a chair, standing in Tadasana, or standing on your knees. (Use cushioning from a folded up mat or blanket, as appropriate.)
- On an inhalation sweep your arms out to the sides and overhead, feeling expansion in both your front and back body. Avoid hunching your shoulders up around your ears. Only bring the arms up as high as you can before the shoulders begin to lift.
- On your next exhalation, sweep your arms back down.
- To feel a real sense of the flow, imagine your spine lengthening on the inhalation and your arms pressing down with some resistance on the exhalation, as if you are continuing to grow in height the whole time.
- Repeat 4-6 times.
- If you are practicing this standing, after a few repetitions, add a component of balance and really wake up your system by rising up on your toes on the inhalation and lowering slowly on the exhalation.
Be sure to sync your breath with your arm sweeps to reap the full benefit of this energizing flow. You can also combine it with a pranayama flow, such as adding breath retention, suspension, ratio breathing, etc., Or make it more free form and add a bit of stretching (pandiculation) when your arms are overhead to wake up your whole system. It all depends on your mood and yoga practice.
Sun breath is accessible to yoga practitioners of every stage and physical condition. It’s also a great alternative to that four o-clock coffee break when your energy starts to flag!