Teaching Modified Sun Salutations for Recovery - Aura Wellness Center

Teaching Modified Sun Salutations for Recovery

Teaching modified Sun SalutationsBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Teaching modified Sun Salutations to students is a valuable skill. Firstly, students who are recovering from surgery need skilled instructors. Secondly, people living with chronic illnesses, create a variety of challenges for teachers. Subsequently, a unique opportunity exists for teachers. In turn, teachers can make a significant difference in a student’s level of health. Of course, there are many different physical challenges that your students may be experiencing. For example, in the Eastern United States, there is a high prevalence of Lyme disease. In fact, Lyme disease is brought on by a deer tick bite. Left unchecked, Lyme disease can cause many serious problems, including brain damage. Sadly, Lyme disease, stroke, and MS, take a toll on the population. Yoga students may also frequently contend with sports-related injuries. Additionally, practicing Yoga poses with too much speed or force can also cause injuries.


What are the Benefits for Students?

By teaching modified Sun Salutations, you help to guide your students. Meanwhile, they move toward physical strength, balance and the ability to relax through a consistent practice. That said, as you teach breathing exercises and meditation techniques, you will be supporting them in their healing journey. The same is true for the students who are recovering from an injury or surgical procedure. Again, there are many different injuries and/or physical challenges with which a student may be living. For example, one student may be contending with a torn rotator cuff from constant lifting and twisting at work. Yet, another student has a torn meniscus within the knee joint from a skiing accident.


How Does it Work?

Regardless of the physical challenge, an individually modified sequence of Yoga poses, pranayama techniques and meditation practices can nourish and support a Yoga practitioner. As a result, classes designed for physical recovery help our students. Due to steady practice, a student regains his or her overall health and well-being. Today, the Sun Salutations are one of the core foundational sequences of Yoga poses. Traditionally, they are practiced during the beginning of the day. These days, they are usually practiced at the beginning of class, regardless of the time of day. The purpose is to warm-up all of the major muscle groups. Hence, these movements increase the circulation of fresh oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.


What’s the Purpose?

Why should we consider teaching modified Sun Salutations? Since it is one of the foundational sequences in Hatha Yoga practice, this gives our students confidence. Hence, by modifying the Sun Salutations, so that all of your students can safely practice pieces of this sequence of poses, they build self-esteem. How many movements should we cover in a shorter sequence? Actually, three or four movements will help most new students.

Short sequences will help students who are physically challenged to feel a sense of physical mastery during their healing process. Emphasis on learning one breathing technique keeps classes simple.  At the most basic level, the Sun Salutations are a mix of movement with one breathing exercise (ujjayi pranayama). Ultimately, these movements circulate fresh oxygen throughout the entire body.


Why Should Teachers Care?

Is there really a need? Let’s look at an example. If a Yoga student is unable to stand or raise his or her arms overhead. How is that going to affect participation in class? During the Sun Salutations, simply participating in the  modified movement is a good start. Also, practicing the breath will help to give your student a sense of inclusion in the class. Over time, the student may be able to stand and raise his or her arms overhead. Then flowing into Standing Forward Fold may come more naturally. Building the parts of the Sun Salutation in small pieces is a start. By practicing slowly with each individual student, they gain confidence. You will ensure that each student is practicing the poses safely. Thus, our students regain a stronger state of health and well-being with each succeeding class. Teaching modified Sun Salutations is rewarding for teachers and students.


© Copyright – Virginia Iversen – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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4 thoughts on “Teaching Modified Sun Salutations for Recovery”

  1. From the heading of this article it appeared that you might be suggesting some simplified ways of sun solutation for physically challanged persons. My curiocity still remains to find out how a person with frozen shoulder or some other ailment will be encouraged to sun solutation?

  2. I have gone through the article by Virginia Iversen and noted that the person who has problem due to surgery or
    health condition can not do Sun Salutation should sit in the yoga class and see how the other students are doing it will help him to develop the interest and he will slowly pick up the steps as per his capacity develops.
    I have developed Sun Salutation of sixteen poses as people do not have time to do more exercise after doing the same for few minutes. But that is for the students are fit and can do asana easily.
    Definitely Sun Salutation is done with breathing
    ( pranayama ). Dr.R.K.S.Rathore question is important that how a frozen shoulder person can get benefit from Sun Salutation ? We teach some exercises for the Frozen Shoulder and ask the person to sit and see how the Sun Salutation inspire mentally to do it later when he feels alright.


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