Stiff yoga guide: Surya Namakara B

If you missed Part 1 of my I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this feature, it is right here. It might be worth a look as I won’t re-state details from Surya Namaskara A.

As a reminder, here’s the thinking behind this:

My back-to-basics approach definitely has me feeling and thinking like the beginner I am, or ought to be. As I move through week two, and a few fundamentals continue to guide me, I realize there are some specific adjustments happening in the poses I’m doing that, perhaps, might make the practice more welcoming to stiff, resistant would-be (but probably claim to be “never-be”) Ashtangis.

I was one of those, for many years.

I do want to add that all the little tweaks and quirks we’ve added in have some root in advice we’ve gotten from Tim Miller, David Swenson, Maria Zavala and, I’m sure, others. It’s that these seem to be working for me; they may not work in this combo for anyone else. Or they might!

On to Surya Namakara B. And a reminder: SRG = stiff resistant guy.

  • As with A, the arms moving up as the knees bend seems to feel best just slightly forward of the body. And it just may be difficult to bring those palms together. So what? Keep the arms straight in an effort to get the shoulder blades loosened up.
  • Keep the arms straight as you fold forward from that bent-knee position. I’m finding it tough to get the weight on my big toes at this point (the ongoing inner rotation issue).
  • I mentioned I’m taking my feet out wide in Down Dog. For the brief ones during the moving into / out of the Warrior pose, I’ve got them more in line with my shoulders, aka “the right way.” But it is just because it is easier to bring the feet forward into Warrior.
  • What’s the rush? I know we’re supposed to get right up to Warrior on one inhale, but sometimes — the first one or two in the morning — I’m stiff. So the first breath gets me up into a too-high Warrior, with arms still down. On the exhale I settle down more, try to get the front thigh as parallel to the floor as possible, think about how straight ahead my upper body is. And then on the next inhale, arms up, head up.
  • I’ve been finding that keeping the arms parallel to each other, rather than bringing the palms together, seems to offer more loosening potential for my shoulders. I also think in some ways it is more difficult — you can’t brace your arms on one another. I know some folks love the “hands in a pistol” option. But… so un-yogic!
  • It might be worth trying to get through the so-called Surya Namaskara B + . For those unfamiliar, it includes five-breath Warriors. It provides a little more time to learn where your body should be and some time to work out some kinks. It also gives you time to answer this question: Is the outside of your back foot (the pinkie toe side) on the mat when you’re in Warrior?
  • When I get to the five breaths in Down Dog, as you probably guessed, I have my feet mat’s width again.
  • Here’s been a little challenge / quirk: When I was doing this pose with some “cheating,” i.e. bending knees in forward fold, it was easy to move into the chair pose or whatever we want to call the first/last move. But now when keeping my legs as straight as possible, I sometimes lift right up to Samasthiti.

You can probably figure out which pose will come next.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

6 thoughts on “Stiff yoga guide: Surya Namakara B”

  1. Have you ever considered consulting an Ayurvedic specialist, Steve, about your “stiffness” issues? Sometimes, the practice is not enough – certainly, I had profiund changes in my asana practice when I got “diagnosed” and I credit the daily Ayurvedic regimen (dinacharya) and diet with resolving much of my longstanding physical practice limitations. Food for thought (no pun intended) 🙂

  2. if you want to explore that should opening a bit more — You can bring the arms parallel and straight with a block pressed between the hands (the long way).

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