Any movement of the body releases energy. On some days, the world is shrouded in a damp fog of yin energy: vigorous movement just isn’t in the cards. On some days you just want to be a cloud and float. Floating is still moving, and even while floating you can practice awareness. The Cloud Salutation is a wonderful way to move with the flow of life when it is quiet, or when you need to build some quiet into your life.

1) Beginning: Come into mountain pose (Tadasana). Bring your feet together and root them into the earth. Hug your thighs together and lift your crown to the sky. Press palms together at elbow level in anjali mudra (prayer). To help with your balance throughout the flow, focus your eyes at eye level far in front of you on one spot that isn’t moving, or at a spot on the floor. Exhale completely, and smile.

 

 

 

 

2) First Movement: Begin to inhale, and then spread your arms wide like wings, raising them high over your head. Bring your palms together, and reaching as high as you can, complete the inhalation, pause and smile again.

 

 

 

 

 

3) Second Movement: Begin to exhale, and then slowly lower your palms down the center of your body, while at the same time lifting your right knee up to your chest. Empty your lungs as you pause briefly, with your palms just above your knee. Remember to lift the corners of your lips: it is called a smile. [1]

 

 

 

 

 

4) Third Movement: Begin the next inhalation, and again spread your arms wide and up to the sky, while you lower your right foot slowly to the floor. Be aware that your foot will want to descend faster than your arms will lift: synchronize the movements so that the hands touch at the same instant your foot touches the floor. Complete the inhalation, and pause slightly.

 

 

 

 

5) Fourth Movement: The other side now: begin to exhale, and then slowly draw your palms down the center of your body, while at the same time lifting your left knee up to your chest. Empty your lungs as you pause briefly with your palms just above your knee. This is challenging so keep smiling.

 

 

 

 

 

6) Fifth Movement: Begin the next inhalation, and then again spread your arms wide and up to the sky, while you lower your left foot slowly to the floor. Again, be aware that this foot will also want to descend faster than your arms will lift. Keep the movements equal. Complete the inhalation, and pause slightly.

 

 

That’s all there is to this lovely salutation. Keep repeating the flow, alternating sides, and when you are done, return to your mountain; close your eyes, and feel the flow still moving inside you.

When you flow in the Cloud Salutation, move slowly, gracefully, like a cloud floating upon the wind of your breath. Once you have learned the graceful movements of the clouds, you can challenge yourself even more: move like the clouds move, with their eyes closed. Clouds don’t look where they are going: they don’t even care where they are going – they just go! Keep your breath calm, even if you begin to wobble. If the wobbling becomes too dramatic, open your eyes; come back to the original flow for a few cycles. This flow can become addicting. Enjoy it.

 

  1. — A grimace is not a smile.