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Sun Salutation movements for supple strength

Swim England Para-swimming trainer Sam Cooper introduces movements based on the Sun Salutation sequence to help swimmers, coaches and parents with supple strength.

Supple strength is a combination of Pilates and Yoga exercises and is a great way of developing or maintaining flexibility, while also developing strength through a range of functional movements.

You don’t need any special equipment – just a clear space. If you don’t have a yoga mat, it is fine to do these on carpet.

While performing supple strength exercises, focus on your core strength as well as your posture and balance.

Supple strength warm-up

Click or tap play on the video below to watch Sam’s introduction and warm-up for supple strength sessions.

Warm-up exercises

  • Knee Bend with deep breaths
    Keep your feet hip-width apart and breathe in as you bend the knees.
  • Pevlic tilt
    With feet hip-width apart, keep your knees soft and look ahead as you tilt the pelvis forward and back.
  • Heel lifts
    Pull your belly button in towards your spine to engage abdominal muscles. Lift alternate heels and raise the opposite arm to each heel as a progression.
  • Roll downs
    With feet hip-width apart, pull in your belly button to engage your abs, then roll down slowly joint-by-joint. Breathe out and level the pelvis, then roll up slowly joint-by-joint.
  • Cat stretch
    Start on all fours with a straight back. Breathe in as you round your back to the ceiling and tuck your head in. Breathe out as you slowly uncurl and return to your starting position.
  • Cobra
    Starting from a lying position, place hands under shoulders and slowly lift your torso, keeping your pelvis on the floor. Keep your neck long and your shoulders far away from your ears.
  • Child pose
    Take your backside back on to your heels and slide your fingers forward on the floor for a gentle back stretch.

Sun Salutation supple strength sequence

Once you have completed your warm up, continue on to your Sun Salutation supple strength sequence.

The sequence includes some familiar movements with progressions from the warm up and introduces two new movements.

Repeat the sequence multiple times, focusing on relaxed breathing, and using your abdominal muscles.

Click or tap play on the video below to watch Sam demonstrate the sequence in full.

Sun Salutation sequence

  • Cobra
    Starting from a standing position, lower yourself on to hands and knees, then again into a lying position. Lift up to a cobra pose. Slowly return your body to standing, then repeat.
  • Walk out to press up hold
    Starting from a standing position, roll your body down then walk your hands out in to a press-up hold position. Keep a straight line through your shoulders, hips and heels.
  • Lower to floor in press up hold
    Bring your belly button towards your spine, and squeeze your glutes in backside. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body to the floor in a straight line.
  • Downward dog
    From this lying position, put your hands and feet on the floor, then walk your feet closer to your hands. Send your hips towards the ceiling, tucking your head between arms. Straighten your legs, with your heels towards the floor.
  • Heel lifts in downward dog
    From downward dog position, step your feet closer to your hands and lift alternate heels, sending the other one into the floor. This is an excellent movement if you have tight calf muscles.
  • Return to standing
    From downward dog position, drop your knees to to the floor, walk your hands back in, then gently roll up to standing again.