Even if you have chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or autoimmune diseases like Lyme or rheumatoid arthritis and have to spend part (or most) of the day in bed, you can still reap the benefits of Sun Salutations.
The energetic flow of Sun Salutation can be experienced lying in bed or lying on a mat. Use your creativity to explore what movements feel good in your body. Working from this position, gravity affects the body in a different way. Notice how raising your arms in front of you creates a similar experience as raising them over your head in a seated position.
The movements in this flow tend to focus on hip and shoulder opening, which can be a great practice if you’re spending a lot of time in bed. This includes people with chronic illness, fatigue, before or after surgery, and so on.
Begin by checking your posture in bed; this is a variation of Corpse Pose focusing on comfort and stability. You can begin with both knees bent and your feet on the bed.
You can still receive the physical and mental benefits of beloved Sun Salutation from a chair. If standing is painful, difficult, or impossible, try this variation of Sun Salutation to feel at home in your body.
Sun Salutation can also be done as a seated practice, which takes a little more imagination. There are two ways to approach the practice. One is to try to align movements in the chair with the traditional standing Sun Salutation so they could be practiced side by side. Another approach is to be more creative with the movements and focus on moving with the breath, getting as many major muscle groups involved as possible.
Generally, try to inhale when you bend back (spinal extension) and exhale when you bend forward (spinal or hip flexion). Sun Salutation is, by definition, a series of flowing movements coordinated with the breath. Use your imagination, and see what type of chair Sun Salutation you can create. The chair can be against a wall for support or on a yoga mat to provide more traction. When practicing in a chair, be careful to keep the bulk of your weight in the chair to avoid falling out of it.
For many people, chair Sun Salutation offers a way to continue a much-loved practice in the face of injury or illness. The flow of breath and movement is soothing to the mind and nervous system, and it can help bring us back to the body during times of anxiety or stress. I remember one student with multiple sclerosis who was dealing with extreme fatigue. Some days she had enough energy to practice a standing Sun Salutation, and some days she preferred to sit in a chair. But either way she was able to experience this powerful moving meditation.
Yoga is for every body and every level. If traditional Sun Salutation is not available to you, try this variation using a wall as support.
Sun Salutation is an effective way to warm up your entire body, whether as preparation for more poses or simply to warm yourself up on a cold morning. It’s also a powerful practice on its own that can help you connect with your breath and the rhythmic movements of nature.
Sun Salutation can be made more accessible in a number of ways. You can either practice a variation of a traditional Sun Salutation series by adapting the individual positions within it, or you can remove poses or sections of the series that present the greatest challenge. Other ways to adapt the sequence include using props, such as a wall or chair, as well as practicing in bed or lying on a mat.