Silent Sundays: Saying Series–On Humility

On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, I am filled with—appropriately enough—a deep sense of gratitude. The feeling encompasses a mix of learned and spontaneous appreciations, all of which are tied to a lengthy period of physical pain. Unexpectedly, while the physical condition worsens, my spirit has flourished: This statement stems not from pride, but from relinquishing control when necessary; from forging ahead when to do so seems nearly impossible; from absolute refusal to entertain a negative mindset; and from accepting that help can be offered without strings.

I am especially thankful for the latter lesson. Like most human beings, I have had my share of heartbreak and staggering disappointment: And like most others, I have not always processed those times gracefully or wisely. But with attention, awareness, prayer, and meditation (not to mention bouts of therapy, whether professional or friend-based), I have some understanding of why I reacted—or chose not to react—in a given way. I also consciously aim to receive support as the kindness it is meant to be, and to let my grateful heart be seen.

Because the last year has been one in which I have had to confront constant, deepening physical pain, I have had to mitigate how and what I do on a daily basis. As one whose physicality has been an integral part of my career in the movement and healing arts,  and also one of my greatest general enjoyments, to cope with its decline has been a challenge. Fortunately, I have learned to detect God behind such trials, and therefore tend to approach them with a reverence and devotion born of fervent faith in the Ways of the Divine.

Especially within the last couple of months, I have had to contend with and accept the increasing limitations of my mobility. One of the first things I give thanks for is that my situation is fixable: I will have surgery that most often yields wonderful results. That knowledge helps me to power through, yet when muscles and joints reach their literal breaking point, mind-over-matter does not always work. Enter the need to accept help: Neighbors are at the ready to help me carry items up stairs; they move slowly along with me; and they put forth their commitment to help post-surgery.

Last week, a good buddy extended his willingness to be at the ready to help with errands and such. And then again this very morning, a note arrived from a friend who has proved unceasingly present and supportive: She and her husband have made it clear that they are happy and willing to help anytime, now and post-surgery. 

These are people whom I have grown to trust; their offers are sincere and heart-centered. To let my pride or embarrassment impede the flow of that energy seems not only ungrateful, but disrespectful to God and the Universe. I have been issued a true challenge, but also I have been provided with the gifts and tools to address the test. The physical challenge may, in fact, not be the crux of the challenge: Perhaps the recognition of the strength involved in accepting aid is the primary lesson that I have been charged with learning.

With these thoughts, I am called to offer a selection from Paramahansa Yogananda’s Spiritual Diary. As introduced several weeks ago, such writings comprise this blog’s “Sayings Series”: From time to time, Paramahansa’s words of wisdom, philosophy, and revelation underscore or provide direction to daily or Life concerns. Today’s Silent Sunday correlates well with the following entry on Humility:

“Pride is blinding, banishing the vision of vastness possessed by greater souls. Humbleness is the open gate through which the divine flood of Mercy and Power loves to flow into receptive souls.”

Indeed.

While to say that I am grateful for the unrelenting pain that accompanies me may seem a stretch, I certainly give thanks for the rich contemplation, ardent prayer, disciplined meditation, and adjusted perspective that has become as present as the pain. Without having been forced to slow down; without the ability to repress or ignore emotional discomfort by jumping or running around; without the choice to refuse offers of help, I have been humbled. As it turns out, Humility is a freeing feeling: Contrary to the sense of being at the mercy of another, humbleness ushers in Mercy; as Paramahansa points out, that divine offering flows inward, empowering The Soul.

On this Silent Sunday, as on all days, I wish you the gift of discovering the great, good fortune that lines whatever challenge you may be facing. 

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Winter Prep (and Pandemic Boost)

Ooooh, it is that time again: when movement slows, bodies curl in upon themselves, and couches and beds become the preferred locale. This year, however, the imminent Winter comes with the thought: “Is this not how it has been all year long?!” The 2020 pandemic forced dramatic slow-downs of activities, goals, and plans: It also compelled many of us to accept the challenge with a sense of curiosity and creativity. We could not change the overall circumstance of a virus run globally amok, but we could change how we dealt with frustration, fear, and a necessarily restricted world.

And the coming season of freeze and darkness may be addressed in much the same way. Just as scores of people dedicated themselves to a new hobby, practice, or attitude when Lockdown struck, one can commit to a mantra, perspective, or physical adjustment that corresponds to the unique demands of a long Winter. Today’s Silent Sunday offers a few ways to prepare for and endure the months ahead, with regard to both the ongoing pandemic restrictions and to the natural hibernation tendencies that arise at this time.

First, because a warm bed is hard to leave on a frigid morning, perhaps incorporate a short, centering routine into your day before you leave your toasty sanctuary. Keeping the eyes closed, create a favorite mudra with your hands, or hold a crystal. You could also concoct an essential oil elixir that generates energies of positivity and calm: Keep it bedside, and upon waking, anoint the temples, upper and lower spine, and soles of the feet with the oil. With mudra, crystal, and/or oil activated, silently pray or chant a mantra of your choice. If you feel yourself drifting back into sleep, allow that if you have time; if not, transition from your meditation to the following enlivening movements.

Take a full-body stretch that feels natural to you; then, twist through the torso several times, slowly and completely, left and right. Next, shift onto the belly, and curl the toes under; push through the heels to open the soles of the feet. Then point the feet as you rise into Sphinx, supported by the forearms. Repeat the sequence 5-8 times: Inhale when you point the feet and come into Sphinx; exhale as you lower down. Keep the breath out as you take the time to curl the toes, push through the heels, and stretch the bottoms of the feet. Inhale up with a pointed foot; exhale down, and stretch the soles. (Each time you lower from Sphinx, turn the head to one side, alternating left and right.)

Now, still under the covers, draw the knees up underneath your torso, and move into the gentle back-opening of Baby Pose. Rest the forehead on your pillow, or bring your hands underneath the forehead. Take several deep breaths here. Then, help yourself out of bed, and stand, either in your bedroom or in your usual practice space. 

I suggest that you aim for at least two of the following four moves: If you feel energized from two, perhaps do three or all four.

  1. From standing, march for 26 beats: Alternately bring the knees as high as you can; reach the opposite arm high.
  2. Then, bring the arms to the sides at shoulder level: Swing the arms back and down, and try to clap the heel between the hands as the foot comes up toward the buttocks. Alternate left and right feet for 26 counts.
  3. Now, again with the arms at shoulder height, bring the right foot up and in toward the left groin or inner thigh. As the foot comes up, swing the left hand down to touch the inner edge of the foot. Alternate left and right taps 26 times.
  4. Finally, move the arms in wide circles, “wax-on/wax-off” style: As the right arm circles up and out to the right, the left circles counter-clockwise. As the arms circle up and out, lift the right leg to the side; next time, circle the arms and side-lift the left leg. Repeat 26 times, moving as quickly as you can.

If you now find yourself ready for a full movement or meditation practice, proceed, and relish the time. If you are ready to continue into your morning, perhaps try a new tea: Warming ginger and turmeric offer a spicy jumpstart; they also can help promote healthy digestion when the Winter metabolism can get sluggish. Bright lemon or soothing orange also contribute to a positive start to the day. 

Finally, the above suggestions could be done in reverse for an evening practice. If you have had a day when you felt unmotivated or thwarted by your own or another’s negativity, detach from those feelings; the benefits of sleep will be more effective if you have cleared the detritus of the day. So, sip some tea, circulate the blood to relieve tension, cozy into bed for some stretches and prayers or mantras, and drift into the restorative energies of the night.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Pranayama for the Chakras–Conclusion: The Heart Center

When it comes to the physical body, the center of gravity–and thus balance– is a bit different for everyone, depending on the architecture of the body in question. Yet, typically, most of us think of that center as occurring somewhere in the core: the hip, belly, and low back region. The energetic center of the body, however, lies within the Fourth Chakra, or Heart Center (Anahata).

Think of the ways we refer to heightened moments of emotional energy: “My heart leapt out of my chest;” “My heart sank:” “My heart was in my throat;” “Is your heart in the right place?” These locational errancies reveal that when the Heart wanders from its centered home, imbalances throughout the chakra system can occur. Without the mediating, calming energy of the Heart, the vibrational tone of the Upper and Lower Triangles becomes dissonant.

To properly situate and stimulate the Fourth Chakra, the upper back, chest, and arms require attention. Because the Heart meridians (two primary and two associates) run through the arms, an open bridge between them is vital to the optimal function of Heart energy: thus, the area between the armpits needs to be clear and flexible.

For today’s practice, begin with traditional Cat/Cow on all fours. After 8-15 rounds of this overall spinal flexion and extension, sit back on the heels: As always, a pillow between the feet and bottom provides support. Place the hands on the shoulders, thumbs behind, fingers in front. Inhale deeply as you pull the elbows back, as if to touch each other; keep the upper arms parallel to the ground. Exhale and bring the elbows forward to touch. Begin as slowly as you need to; as the body warms up, move quickly and fluidly, increasing the power and pace of the breath to match the movement. Continue for 2 minutes.

Now, shift into a different seated pose, if you like (or remain as you are, if comfortable). Inhale the arms overhead, arms hugging the ears, palms facing, and then exhale them 30 degrees away from the head. Continue this straight-up, 30-degree-open movement rapidly as you inhale up, exhale open, for 1 minute. The rhythm of the nasal breath should be quick and vigorous, matching the arm move, almost like a Breath of Fire.

Next, rise onto the knees for a variation of Camel Pose. (Again, use a pillow to protect the knees if they feel sensitive.) Reach the hands back to the heels; be sure to keep the thighs perpendicular to the floor. If this is too much of a stretch, place the palms on the back of the thighs. Inhale deeply, then exhale as you move the torso back about 30 degrees; inhale back to the start. Continue this back-and-forth, up-and-down movement for another 2 minutes.

After a brief rest in Baby Pose, come into your preferred seated position for Nadi Shodhana prayanama. This is the classic balancing breath, bringing both sides of the brain (i.e., the overriding nervous system) into a state of equanimity; it can be called on to restore calm and steadiness during any emotional upheaval. Here, I suggest attention to the Heart as you practice the breath.

Before you begin, massage the center point of each palm for about a minute each; use the opposite thumb tip to make small, small, clockwise circles to rub the points. When you have finished, place the awakened palm center of the left hand on the Heart Center. Bring the right thumb to the right nostril, and close the opening.

Inhale through the left nostril, then press the aperture closed with the right ring finger. Exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, close the nostril with the thumb, and exhale through the left. Continue this alternate nostril breath for 5 minutes. With the eyes closed and focused on the Third Eye, simultaneously maintain sensory awareness of the connection between the left palm and Heart Center. This will guide the balancing pranayama to the chakra that creates harmony among all energy centers.

When you are ready, slowly move into Svasana to deepen the flow of the Heart’s energy throughout the body, mind, and spirit. Rest for as long as you like in this calming vibration.

Happy Sunday…

Pranayama for the Chakras–Part Two: The Upper Triangle

This pandemic year; this election week; this seemingly endless season of waiting and wondering: Any or all of it may have caused your mind to muddle and your head to hurt. Attempts to express anger, fear, existential dread, hope, gratitude, or support may have felt thwarted, or been delivered awkwardly. The ability to detach from the minutiae of each day’s news in favor of accepting the timing of societal and spiritual unfolding may be limited.

Each of the above “maybes” fall under the auspices of the top three chakras, or the Upper Triangle. The Fifth, or Throat Chakra (Vishuddha), guides how we express ourselves and our ability to communicate clearly. The Sixth Chakra, aka the Spiritual or Third Eye (Ajana), is the seat of intuition; when this energy center is strong, illusory circumstances diffuse, and one connects to the Truth of a situation. And finally, the Seventh, or Crown Chakra (Sahasrara), resonates with the surrounding Aura and Magnetic Field, opening each of us to the vibration of the Universe.

While feelings of security and certainty may have been threatened for many of us this year, strong faith (in whatever anchors you during tumultuous times) and disciplined adherence to spiritual practices assuaged those who gravitate toward that path. Yet, as is the case in Life, even the most devoted of devotees doubts and despairs from time to time: Such moments require attention to the Upper Triangle.

Special note reminder: As noted in Part I, the Fourth, or Heart Chakra, will be addressed in this coming “Silent Sundays” piece.

The following routine for Chakras Five, Six, and Seven will be practiced slightly differently than those for the Lower Triangle. Instead of three separate practices, the pranayama and movements for the Upper Chakras will flow as would a full-body vinyasa. The moves and positions are not complicated, so focused pranayama can be performed deeply..

To begin, come standing with feet under the hip points, ensuring that the knees align over the second toes. Imagine a wall behind you, and that the back of your head, shoulder blades, and bottom touch the wall. Connect to and deepen your breath; allow each inhale to lift through the armpits as the ribcage expands, and slide the shoulder blades down as the exhale retracts the ribs. Empower your stance with about 1 minute of this deep, aligning breath work.

Now, still standing, place your middle fingers just in front of their respective ear openings: Test the spot by slightly opening and closing the jaw; your fingers should dip into the little groove as the jaw opens, and be pushed out as the jaw closes. With eyes closed, inhale through the mouth as you slowly open the jaw wide and tip the head back; closed eyes are focused on the Third Eye. As you exhale through the mouth, slowly bring the head back to neutral; time the breath and head movement, so that the jaw is closed when your head returns to the start. Repeat this head tipping with open-mouth breath for 1 minute.

After your final head move, immediately bring Prayer Mudra to rest on the Third Eye: The base thumb knuckles fit directly onto the Sixth Chakra. With eyes remaining closed and focused on the Spiritual Eye, inhale as the head turns to the left: Chant, “Sat Nam.” As you exhale and turn the head to the right, chant, “Wahe [wah-hay] Guru.” Repeat this mantra in a whisper for 1 minute.

Now, without pausing, extend the arms overhead as you inhale through the nose; bend back slightly. Exhale through the mouth with a long whooshing sound as you tip the torso forward about 30 degrees; as you tip, swipe the arms down and out to the sides, as if clearing the auric field around you. Inhale body and arms back up, and then exhale slightly forward as the arms come down and out. With each inhale and arm raise, the hands do not touch; the arms remain alongside the ears when fully extended upward. Continue this movement for 1 minute.

From the final inhale up in the previous move, exhale into a forward fold, then down onto all fours. Shift back into Baby Pose, and interlace the hands behind your back; extend the arms long. As you inhale, lift the hips as you roll forward onto the crown of the head; exhale back down. As you inhale and lift, the arms lift away from the back; allow them to settle back down as the hips sit back on the exhale. Continue for 1 minute.

If this practice appeals to your personal needs, you may extend the times to 3 minutes; or, stay with the shorter times, but repeat the entire flow up to 3 times without a pause. Regardless, end with a prone Svasana: Come onto the belly, and bring the hands under the head; form a diamond shape with the thumbs and index fingers of each hand, and rest your forehead in the geometric space. Consciously release through the shoulders, elbows, belly, and bottom; check in with the toes, and ease up through the soles of the feet. Remain here, breathing deeply, for a few minutes.

Next time: Conclusion—The Heart Center

Silent Sundays: Pranayama for the Chakras–Part One

As we wind down from October’s confounding cosmological thicket, this first day of November provides an opportunity to reset and reinvigorate the perhaps overwrought energy centers (chakras). The planetary activities may have thwarted a planned path or goal; societal confusion and combativeness may have left an overall feeling of enervation; and the inevitably unusual holiday season may compound the year’s feeling of uncertainty.

Always, however, each of us has the ability to address our unique combinations of energies. For some, periods of upheaval and uneasiness inspire introspection, contemplation, prayer, and mediation. Others may feel a need to connect with friends and family more than ever. These responses can indicate which team of chakras—Upper or Lower Triangle, respectively—tends to guide thoughts and actions. If prone to seek comfort inwardly, the higher energy centers—Chakras 5, 6, and 7—likely are one’s strong suits. If a focus on earthly, practical matters offers comfort, Chakras 1, 2, and 3 are your safe place.

Special note: You may be wondering, “What about the Fourth Chakra, or Heart Center?” The significance of the Heart’s mediating and connective energy for the entire chakra system grants it a practice of its own. Part 3 will focus on the Vortex of the Heart.

When Life flows smoothly, and one feels connected to others and the Universe, the Chakras function optimally, i.e., steadily and harmoniously. When one Triangle tends to overpower the other, the  resulting imbalance causes emotional, physical, and spiritual challenges we generally seek to avoid. For example, throughout the first few decades of my life, my now-90-year-old mother would say in response to my “Upper” tendencies: “You don’t need to grow up; you need to grow down…”

She was right, as only an observant and insightful mother could be.

Yet my mistake in those early years of seeking balance between my earth-bound and spirit-leaning selves was to swing too far in one direction or the other. I found myself careening between physical desires and their associated behaviors, and fervent experimentation with the esoteric arts and therapies. The wild swinging of this pendulum served only to exacerbate the state of imbalance that I sought to alleviate. 

Enter yoga. Initially, the physical power of Ashtanga tradition met my need for an energy high, coupled with the quieting that comes with the expulsion of excess energy. Soon, however, kundalini techniques appealed to my innate affinity with the Upper Triangle. And when I became acquainted with Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization philosophies and teachings, the bridge between Upper and Lower began to form.

I offer this “nutshell” account of my experience with energy imbalance and the ways that I have learned to address it, because the need to reset and rebalance is not an isolated  phase. Each of us must confront our wayward, stagnant, or overactive vibrations throughout Life. On a basic level, night and sleep supply an opportunity to renew after the typical shifts of a day; each year, many of us reflect on potential changes when a birthday or New Year arrives; and then there are those Big Times—long, slow-to-unfold chapters—when the internal Energy Wheels demand constant awareness and adjustment.

Today’s Silent Sunday looks at the Lower Triangle of Chakras, the centers of survival tendencies and stability; of regenerating and creativity; and of confidence and determination, respectively. And because breathing often gets sidetracked during times of despair or distress, the practice offers a pranayama for each chakra. A warm-up move also will be suggested, in order for the chakra in question to most hospitably welcome its paired breath remedy.

First Chakra/The Root (Muladhara)

As its name implies, Chakra 1 is the foundational energy center. When the First Chakra is in good shape, one feels stable and grounded, ready to withstand challenge. If weak or overshadowed by another overactive chakra, Number One’s shakiness resonates within as fear or uncertainty.

To awaken the First Chakra, the pelvis and tail require stimulation. To that end, squats or body drops can be used: If you regularly practice gym-style squats, try this kundalini version: From a standing forward bend (hands on the floor, ankles, or shins), bend the knees and drop the hips toward the floor; come as deep into a crouch as possible. As the bottom goes down toward the heels, the spine and head tip up in a long line. Exhale as you move into the squat/crouch, inhale to return to the standing forward bend. Repeat 12-26 times.

Now for the pranayama to strengthen the First Chakra: In your favorite seated posture, double-check to ensure that your sit-bones are firmly rooted into the earth; pull your gluteal flesh apart and back, which will further ground the sit-bones. With eyes slightly open, gaze the tip of the nose. Inhale to a count of 8, slowly engaging Mul Bandha: Squeeze the anus, perineum, and genitals in time with the 6-count inhale. When the breath is full, the Root Lock should be complete: Suspend the inhale for a count of 4. Then, exhale through the nose for a count of 6, releasing the bandha in time with the exhalation. Immediately repeat, and continue for 2 minutes.

Second Chakra (Svadisthana)

As the seat of generative energy, Chakra 2 sparks creativity and fuels the lower-most internal organs. When the energy vortex is imbalanced or tired, one feels sluggish and unmotivated, mentally and physically. To stimulate the area, flex and extend the lower spine. 

Three options to “rock” the pelvis and thus open and strengthen the Second Chakra are: 1) classic Cat/Cow on all fours, with an emphasis on the doming and arching of the low back, allowing the spine to tip forward and back on the inhale and exhale, respectively; 2) seated spinal flex, placing the fingertips on the hip bones to help contain the flexion and extension to the lower spine (inhale as the pelvis tips forward; exhale back); and 3) on your back, knees bent, feet hip-width apart, inhale as you curl the sacrum up off of the floor, and exhale as you slowly roll the pelvis back down.  For any of the options, continue for 1 minute.

The pranayama for this chakra involves multiple components: physical pumping, suspended and retained breath, and transitional breathing. Begin with 1 minute, which will be 3-5 rounds of the full pattern; work up to 3 minutes. To begin, sit with eyes closed, gazing to the Third Eye; relax the hands on the knees or thighs, palms down. Inhale deeply through the nose; with the breath in, pump the area between the pubic bone and belly button. Isolate this area of the belly, trying not to involve the upper abdominal muscles. When you need to, exhale completely: With the breath empty, pump again for as long as you can. Continue for the suggested time.

Third Chakra (Manipura)

This wheel of energy gives one the oomph of self-empowerment: When strong, a feeling of near-invincibility prevails. If depleted or out of sorts, Chakra 3 loses its ability to provide “grit” and agency; self-doubt impedes progress. Fortunately, a wide variety of twists and abdominal work quickly ignite the pranic flame of the Third Chakra. For example, lie on your back, knees bent in toward the belly: Inhale, and as you exhale, drop both knees to the floor on the right; inhale back center, and exhale to the left. Or, if you prefer, extend both legs straight up above the hips: Inhale, and as you exhale, lower both legs to 45 degrees. Inhale back up, and exhale down to 45. Continue either exercise for 1 minute.

To empower Chakra 3, utilize Breath of Fire. In a seated pose, extend the arms to the sides at shoulder level. Curl the fingertips into the base of their respective fingers, and extend the thumbs straight up; palms face forward. With eyes closed, turned upward to the Third Eye, begin Breath of Fire; focus on the rapid pulsing of the upper abdominal region, matching the clip of the short, powerful, and equal inhales and exhales. Continue for 3 minutes.

This routine for the Lower Triangle may be divided if you clearly feel a need in one chakra. In that case, triple the suggested time allotment for that individual chakra, both for its warm up and pranayama. Whether you choose to work with all three chakras as your practice, or decide to focus on one, give yourself a few minutes in Svasana when you have finished.

Next time: Part 2—the Upper Triangle

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Check Yourself

Between the safety consciousness that has evolved during this year’s pandemic, and the heightened attention to the ongoing racism in this country, 2020 has caused many of us to take a closer look at our values and perspectives. I, for one, have transitioned into a much more cautious stance with regard to health protocols than I would have imagined: Yet, too, I am acutely aware that as always, there is a wide spectrum of thought about these matters.

A couple of weeks ago, I was conversing with a man who lamented the varying opinions about COVID-19 precautions that had arisen in his own family. (One of 10 siblings, his “immediate” family rivals the extended versions of most: The pool of viewpoints is vast.) Primarily, he wondered aloud about how to cope with family members who seemed lackadaisical about mask-wearing and social distancing: He and his wife are very careful, aiming to keep themselves, their elderly parent, and their grandchildren healthy; they opt out of most family invitations, due to the relaxed nature of others’ protocols.

I commiserated, and we agreed that each of us has to hold strong to our comfort levels; further, we acknowledged that one can model the behavior we advocate, but to judge or force the issue simply creates additional tension. It was not lost on either of us that that stand would serve most of us well in many other situations. And then we moved on to a different topic that would in turn underscore the stance in a most unexpected—and unsettling—way.

My partner in conversation went on to talk about his volunteer work with the homeless. As one who is deeply moved by the plight of the homeless (and works to overcome an oddly rooted fear that such could be my fate), I was engrossed in his observations of both compassion and fear with regard to the “street” population. As he went on, it became apparent to me that many people are more likely to “socially distance” themselves from a homeless person in their path, than they are to avoid the circumstance of contracting a potentially fatal virus.

Once again, I found myself bewildered by the minds and mindsets of human beings.

The conversation wound its way through my thoughts for the days to come; I could not help but sift through my own latent prejudices, and hark back to the thoughts and behaviors that I used to have with regard to some of them. Thankfully, many have dissipated into dormancy, although remnants float up from time to time: When that happens, I notice their filmy presence on the outskirts of my energy field; then, I shake them loose, and into the ether they vanish.

But in this election year, in this year of pandemic, and in this time of aggravated social upheavals, new fears have tried to infiltrate my heart and mind: I say, “fears,” for what is prejudice but a fear of the unfamiliar or unpredictable? As a way to shift thoughts from unfounded fear to an awareness and acceptance of varying views; and as a means to hold to a calm center when provoked or questioned on one’s own stance, I created the following pranayama and moving-mudra meditation for today’s Silent Sunday.

To begin, lie on your back, as if in Svasana. Take your attention to the soles of your feet, and the palms of your hands: Work to spread your sensory and mental awareness equally to all four parts. Initially, you may find your inner eye batting from foot to foot, then hand to hand, or some combination thereof. Allow this to happen for a few moments; then, consciously deepen your breath, using long, slow exhales to dissolve the separation of attention. Eventually, your breath will move your mind into a state of attuning to all four parts equally and simultaneously. Stay with this leveling awareness for 3 minutes.

Now, before rising to sit, take a full-body stretch, arms reaching overhead on the floor, pushing through the heels, and emitting any groans or sighs that issue forth. Follow this expansive stretch by drawing the knees in toward the belly: Inhale, then exhale both bent legs to the right upon your exhale; inhale back through center, and exhale to the left. Repeat 2 more times to each side.

Then, roll back and forth on the spine a few times before coming into your preferred seated pose for meditation. Place both hands on the knees; form Gyan Mudra on both hands (index fingertip to thumb tip), and turn the hands palm up. With this gesture of communication and wisdom, recall the soothing, “smoothing” sensation from the earlier sensory-awareness technique in Svasana. Recognize the mind’s ability to juggle information as it comes in, and then to process it in a way that refutes exclusion of one thing over another: Harness this physical and intellectual ability as you breathe fully and deeply. Continue for 3 minutes, closed eyes turned up to gaze at the Third Eye.

Next, tuck the left thumb tip into the middle-finger side of the base of the left ring finger: Place the palm on the Heart Center; the exact position will look slightly different on each person, so find the position that allow the palm to connect with the Heart. Relax the hand and arm as much as possible.

Bend the right arm, and hold it next to the body as if taking an oath; palm faces forward. Curl all fingers, except the pinky, into a fist, held down by the right thumb. Extend the right pinky—gesture of intuition and acceptance of the Universe’s ways—close the eyes, and focus inwardly on the Third Eye.

Again, mentally attend to each mudra, its placement, and the gaze of the closed eyes. These focal points may at first seem separate: While they are distinct, use your breath as in the opening exercise to diffuse the lines between them. Upon each exhale, meld your sensory and mental observations, so that you slowly inhabit all three components concurrently.

As your mudras and gaze slowly evolve to include each with the other, breathe deeply through the nose. Then, without disturbing the vibration of inclusion, allow the additional awareness of your rooted seat and the energetic flow through your long, upright spine. Stay with this deeply centered, yet expansive quality for 3 minutes.

Now, release the mudras, and shake the hands and arms for a few moments: If you like, roll the head and shoulders, and perhaps give yourself a few seated spinal flexes. Then, resume your seat (or try another, if that feels intuitively correct to you). Bring your hands into Prayer Pose, palms together, fingers together and pointing straight up. Rest the mudra on your lips, so that the upper edges of the index fingers softly touch the mouth: Thumbs are together just beneath the chin.

You will alternate this classic hand configuration with Lotus Mudra: For that, the base of the palms, thumbs, and pinkies remain in contact with their partners: The index, middle, and ring fingers open, as if blossoming into a Lotus Flower. For the final pranayama, the Lotus Mudra will pair with the inhale, and Prayer will meet the exhale.

The inhale occurs through an extended, curled tongue: If you can not do this, open the lips slightly and extend the tip of the tongue out. Either variation of this breath will accomplish the cooling effect of Sitali Pranayama. As you breathe in, the hands form Lotus Mudra, as if you are drawing in the sweetness of the blossom’s nectar: Words and thoughts are imbued with equanimity and kindness.

Exhale through the nose as the fingers close into Prayer Mudra. Maintain your closed-eye gaze on the Third Eye; breathe slowly and fully on each inhale and exhale. Check to assure that your shoulders and neck are relaxed; let the elbows hang naturally downward. Continue the pranayama with paired mudra for 3-7 minutes. Then, move gently into Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Wild Ride in the Skies

On this Silent Sunday, we find ourselves in the middle of a month fraught with planetary influence. October 2020 welcomes two Full Moons (on the First and the 31st), thereby creating bearish bookends for two other challenging activities in the cosmos: Mars went retrograde on September 9; and the infamous scamp, Mercury, “reversed” its travels on October 16. Whereas Mercury rights its path on November 3, Mars adheres to its enervating energy until November 13.

Although these movements and phases unfolding in the skies affect different astrological signs in different ways, three things are certain for all: Full Moons heighten energy and pull one off-center; Mars retrograde diminishes the planet’s typical empowering force, leaving one with dulled motivation and slowed progress; and Mercury retrograde mucks up the works of all things travel, communication, and electronic. Thus, to keep things steady proves to be a tall task this month.

Certainly, I felt the ramifications of this stellar storm last week. What had been an important deadline was thwarted by electronic errors and human miscommunications; what seemed to be a positive turn of events suddenly had to be postponed; and what had been routine necessitated new protocols. And I was not alone: When comparing notes with others, the consensus  has been that October is a confounding few weeks, and focus and perseverance are hard-won.

That this compendium of confusion is occurring during what is already a distinctly uncertain and atypical election year adds to the universal tension. To wade through the how’s and when’s of voting is one thing; to then cast a ballot and hope that it is counted correctly becomes another. Factor in the hijinx in the galaxy, and the murkiness spreads.

Yet throughout the month, such stymying configurations present each of us with the opportunity to test our mettle. This entire year exemplifies how what we thought would be can be overturned at any moment; then, when fear and helplessness threatened to take the reins, much of humanity rallied and resisted. Of course, humans being humans, differences arose in the way that society “fought back.” These varying behaviors and perspectives also seemed as if they could derail individuals and communities; however, as earlier in the year, and from the beginning of time, adaptability and resilience carried us from one day to the next.

Now, with this month’s cornucopia of cosmic events, we once again scramble to not be pulled down or thrown off by the activity above us. Deep breaths, yanked-up bootstraps, and conscious determination are the keys to riding out the skies’ shenanigans. To that end, today’s routine grounds and centers, and reinvigorates mental focus. 

Special note: This practice is particularly conducive to daily practice for at least a couple of weeks, if not 40 days: Perhaps you dedicate part of your own daily movement or meditation time to this efficient set until Mars and Mercury correct their paths (i.e., start now, and practice through November 13).

In keeping with the need to simplify in the face of sociocultural stressors and cosmological cahoots, the following routine has only three parts, 3-5 minutes each: multi-dimensional and -directional movement; intense Third Chakra stimulation; and calming pranayama with mudra. Should you feel compelled to lengthen the amount of time for any of the parts, do so: Follow your intuition, so that you feel a sense of control over the outcome; that in itself will help to alleviate some of the out-of-control energy that seems to rain down these days.

Begin the practice standing. Shake and wiggle, stretch and bend, jump and jog, working to jettison disturbed and blocked energy. After about a minute of this, circle the torso in wide circumference, 12 times to the right, then 12 to the left; inhale into the back half of the circle, exhale as your circle through the front space. 

Now, help yourself to the floor, and create Plank; you may also remain on all fours if Plank is too much at this moment. Inhale as you lift the right arm up to the side, reaching sky-high, rotating your body open: If you are able to do full Plank, the heels will roll to the left, right foot in front of left on the floor; on all fours, you may opt to open the upper body only, or keeping the left knee on the ground, open the right hip to extend the right leg out in line with the body, yielding a fuller opening. 

Take a full inhale in this Side Plank, and then exhale to return to Centered Plank. Repeat to the other side, inhaling to open the body to the left. Exhale, return to Center, and continue: Alternate right and left Side Planks 26 times (i.e., 13 each side).

After the Plank portion of practice, shift into Baby Pose to re-establish your natural breathing rhythm. Then, help yourself onto your back. Extend both legs straight out at 60 degrees. If your neck is strong, lift the head and shoulder blades off of the ground; otherwise, you may leave them down. Bring the arms a few inches away from the sides, lift them a few inches, and turn the palms up. Begin Breath of Fire, and continue for 30 seconds. 

Next, raise the legs to 90 degrees, feet pointed. Keeping the upper body quiet, aim to touch the toes to the ceiling straight above. The trick here is to avoid rolling the pelvis and low back away from the floor; rather than moving the legs toward you, maintain the 90 degree angle, and “punch” the toes toward the sky. Repeat 26 times, exhaling with each quick “punch,” inhaling to reset; move as quickly as possible, intensely focusing on the precision and power of the movement.

Now, take a moment and draw the knees in toward the body, releasing abdominal tension and relaxing the back body. Roll back and forth a few times to come up, and settle into your favorite seated posture. Make a fist of the right hand, and place it on the Third Chakra (solar plexus). Extend the thumb up. Next, place the left palm on the Heart Center: fingers point to the right, left thumb extends straight up; connect the pinky side of the left hand to the thumb tip of the right finger. The left hand should contact the right thumb at the point between the base of the left palm and the left wrist bone.

With this centering, yet empowering mudra in place, close the eyes and focus on the Third Eye. Remain highly aware of the inner gaze, ardently calling to the spiritual wisdom of the Universe and the Divine; trust that despite the earthly perception of confusion, all is in hand. For the next 3-5 minutes, or however long feels “right” to you, inhale through the nose; exhale long and slow through rounded lips, creating an oceanic, yet calming sound. When you are finished, shift into Svasana for at least a few minutes.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Head Up, Chin Down

As I physically explored my way into what would become this Silent Sunday’s practice, I pondered how in most aspects of life, method, technique, and components interrelate in different ways at different times. In cooking, for example, the method may remain the same, while technique shifts and ingredients change. (Think of pesto: Overall, this is a blended oil-based sauce; yet, how finely the ingredients are “pestled” or chopped may differ, and certainly the basic pine nuts, parmesan, and basil have many suitable substitutes.)

Meditation itself is a method, one used to connect our earthly self with the Universe and the Divine: However, the techniques used to energize the method vary. I most often communicate through the techniques of Paramahansa Yogananda or kundalini yoga; still others gravitate toward Buddhist or Mindfulness techniques. There are myriad techniques that allow one to experience the method of meditation. Within those preferred parameters, the components may change based on intention or goal.

Today’s practice demonstrates how altering technique can develop or reinvigorate meditation. Typically, I suggest a mudra to enhance the effect of a meditative goal: Said finger configuration may rest easily on the knees; or it may move through space; or it may be held at a specific angle to the body. A full- or partial-body mudra also may be static or dynamic. 

On this Silent Sunday, the “ingredient,” i.e., the mudra’s goal, relies on its orientation to the body. You may choose a favorite mudra to work with, or experiment with several. In my personal practice, I worked with squeezing the nail of the middle finger to release anger. Another way to relinquish that which no longer serves would be to insert the thumb tips between the bases of their respective middle and third fingers. The key to today’s outcome, though, lies in the mudra’s resonance with the back body. 

As I moved into my own meditation this morning, I felt oddly dissatisfied with the energetic vibrations that resulted from the standard hold of the middle finger. I let my body wrestle with the discomfort; while holding the mudra, I shifted and rolled my torso and arms, and played with various levels and dimensions. As I did so, I thought of the mudra’s intention: to release and repair damage done by past anger. 

The historical or “backward” view of anger caused me to recognize the “behind me” of it all: Almost unconsciously, my hands took the mudra behind my back. There, I felt a decided shift of reverberation: It was as if my front body yawned widely, releasing the ancient issues and giving me space to move forward. Thus, the technique had changed, while the mudra remained the same.

So, the first step into today’s meditation is to select your focus. Perhaps you have a long-running practice to which you have devoted yourself, or one that has recently called out to you. If you do not typically work with mudra, perhaps you might add one today; or, if you prefer to remain without, the body aspect of today’s practice will nonetheless highlight the result of tweaking a technique to offer new perspective or possibilities.

In order to proceed with today’s suggestions, your usual seated posture will shift to a combination of positions: “Head up, chin down…”

With your meditation focus and/or mudra at the ready, come onto the belly. Whether or not you are using mudra, rest your forehead on both hands; if your fingers form a mudra, adjust accordingly. Breathe deeply, connecting the hands to the Third Eye point between the brows. Move your energy toward your chosen focus for 2 minutes.

Then, remaining prone, bring your hands to the lower back (keeping the mudra if you have one).  As the hands rest in the valley of the low spine, bend the knees to the point where the lower legs hover in space without any resistance or effort. Bring your attention to the sensations throughout the back body, form upper spine through buttocks, hamstrings, and calves, out of the soles of the feet and circling up and over to the back of the head. Move through this loop as you breathe deeply and completely for 3 minutes.

From here, keeping the eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, shift yourself back into Baby Pose. Similar to Yoga Mudra, extend the arms up and away from the back: If your shoulders are not very flexible, the hands may barely be able to lift away from the back body; over time, however, the shoulders will relax, and you may be able to extend the arms straight as you lift them away from the back. If you have a mudra, retain its shape as the arms stretch up and away; if not, interlace the fingers to help you straighten and raise the arms. Breathe here for another 3 minutes.

After you gently release the arms down, roll up to sit: Briefly stretch or shake any areas of stiffness or tension, and then lie on your back. Bring the feet in toward the buttocks, knees bent, as if preparing for Bridge Pose. Roll the hips and spine up off of the floor, and draw your arms underneath you; roll the shoulders open, and bring the shoulder blades closer together under your body. Bring the hands together underneath your lifted body, palms down, mudra or not: Slowly roll down through the spine, bringing the hips to rest on the backs of the hands. If possible, extend the legs straight out on the floor; you may also choose to keep the knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Breathe here, again connecting your sensory awareness to the back body: Move the inner eye from back of head down the spine and backs of legs, then circling the arc of energy up and over the body, into the Third Eye. Inhale as you travel down the back, exhale to loop the vibration upward. Continue for 3 minutes.

Now, to further stimulate the back body and thus encourage old ways, thoughts, and emotions to be left behind, tuck the knees into the torso: Wrapping yourself into a ball, begin to rock back and forth, keeping the chin down, head up (in order to avoid hitting it on the floor as you roll). Continue this rock and roll along the spine, staying tightly tucked, for 1 minute: inhale as you rock back, exhale to propel yourself up.

Finally, arrive in your favorite seated posture. Again, shake, massage, or stretch any part of the body that requires attention. Then, bring the arms behind you, mudra intact or fingers interlaced: Extend through the elbows, drawing the hands back and down. If possible, lift the hands away from the floor behind you. If this is too much for your shoulders, keep the arms straight, hands together, but resting on the floor behind your tail. Allow the shoulders to fall away from the ears, yet extend the cervical spine ever-upward. 

Shift your awareness to the entirety of your front body; feel the openness across the chest, around the Heart Center, and throughout the belly. Deepen the breath, so that each inhale and exhale contribute to the sense of lightness and awakening in your front space. Know that the arms and hands are redirecting your troubles of yore away from your spiritual progress and potential; breathe here for 3-11 minutes. Then, gently slide into Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Blossoms of Blessings

Almost every morning, I wander out to the glorious gardens that my late landlady designed and nurtured into her nineties. These pre-dawn forays find me gazing serenely, yet ardently toward the heavens before my eyes close into prayer. During the past few mornings, this ritual has been overseen by the bright, yet soothing glow of a Harvest Moon, along with two companions, Jupiter and Saturn.

These communications with God and the Universe (and recently, with the Moon) are my cup of coffee: I awaken, feel strengthened and sustained, and my being settles into balance. Always, I am aware of the great blessing to be free, to be attuned, to breathe, and to feel the presence of that which is Eternal. This year of pandemic, of social upheaval, of personal physical challenge, and of familial concerns has only heightened my gratitude for these minutes in the wee hours of each morning.

And yet, the rest of the day can so easily succumb to grievances, short-sightedness, and self-centeredness. For many of us, this can become a mental set point if we do not train ourselves to extend the spiritual bounty of the wee hours (or whenever your personal “in-touch” time may be) throughout the rest of the day… and onward into Life.

These thoughts come on the heels of a week during which “small” blessings seemed to flag my attention: a lovely note from a friend, continual offers of help and support, a surprise flower delivery, and countless other moments that turned quickly from potentially deflating to beautifully uplifting. It was the arrival of the stunning autumnal bouquet that brought a favorite passage from a favorite poet to mind:

…[F]or one moment, quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you. God….

Although I would not describe my recent mood or outlook as sad, the reminder to stay alert to the blossoms of blessings was welcome. Further, it brought me back to the time when I first became enamored of and curious about Rumi, his writing, and his life. While waiting for a yoga class to begin on a frigid, dark Winter evening during massage school in Ithaca, NY, 2004, I began to leaf through a book in the lounge area. It was The Essential Rumi: I opened to a poem entitled, “Burnt Kabob,” read it, and stopped in my tracks upon reading the line quoted above. 

Worn by the rigorous schedule of massage training and in need of spiritual stillness after being surrounded by 80 other students each day, the anonymity of yoga class at a town studio was my bit of respite. Rumi’s words spoke into my fatigued physical body, my overstimulated energy body, and my hungry soul. At that time as in this, I felt the sweet, yet pointed call to find the blessings that are everywhere, always, despite heaviness and strife.

And then, upon re-reading the poem yesterday, I noted a line early in the piece: “Thirst drove me down to the water/ where I drank the moon’s reflection.” As so often is communicated in Rumi’s work, light and dark intrinsically co-exist: One without the other is impossible; we only know light because of darkness, and only recognize darkness when light seems to disappear. 

In meditation, with eyes closed, we perceive “darkness”: However, beneath the closed lids and veiled from light resides an environment conducive to producing Light, to “hearing blessings dropping their blossoms.”

For today’s practice, begin in a seated pose, hands on knees, palms down. (As always, a short set of various spinal is a good preparation for a period of sitting.) Consciously allow the face to soften: unlock the jaw, release the tongue from the upper palate; let the brows move out toward the temples; feel the neck elongate as the shoulders drop.

Then, begin to wiggle the fingers of each hand; let the movement be fluid, like seaweed waving in the water. Gradually add wrist rolls, and eventually, let the arms move into a free-form dance of their own making. If your head moves, if your body wants to twist or change levels, do so. Remain rooted in your seat while the torso, arms, and hands find a natural, creative flow. Continue the “dance” for 3-5 minutes.

Next, lie on your back, legs and arms in the air: As you continue the arm dance, add the legs; again, the movement comes from within, inspired by your innate rhythm, emotional state, and physical ability. Dance the arms and legs for 1 minute; then, rest the arms on the ground by your sides, and continue with the legs only for another 3-5 minutes.

Now, roll to your side, and help yourself return to a seated posture. Bring your hands briefly into Prayer Mudra (palm to palm, fingers flat and aligned with each other). Then, rotate the right hand 90 degrees, keeping the palms together: Curl and rest the right fingers onto the back of the left hand, and the left fingers hold the back of the right hand.

Begin to pulse the hands softly, keeping the gentle squeeze and release inside the palms; do not let the wrists or arms participate in the movement. It is as if the hands are slowly, softly beating like a heart. Begin to connect your breath to the pulse: Inhale as the palms open away from each other; exhale as they draw together. Continue for 1 minute.

Then, consciously reverse the pattern: Inhale as the palms squeeze lightly together; exhale as they open slightly away from each other. This shift may be uncomfortable at first; recheck that your face and shoulders are soft and relaxed. As you continue this breath/pulse meditation, begin to recognize the ongoingness of Breath and Heartbeat despite discomfort, despite the darkness of your closed lids.

Become increasingly immersed in the unusual rhythm, deepening into the Darkness that will usher in the Light. Connect yourself to the blessings around you: Regardless of whether you are able to feel them or conjure them, let the mudra movement remind you of their presence. Continue for 5-7 minutes, and then move into Svasana; allow the hands to quiet, and the breath to rediscover its natural depth and pace.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Nemesis Emesis

Most Silent Sundays do not begin by conjuring “vomiting,” as signaled by today’s title. If one thinks further, however, it is not hard to link the verbal or behavioral spewing of an emotion to emesis. If one ingests tainted or allergenic food, vomit helps to cleanse the system of the perpetrator; when one harbors distasteful emotion, such as anger, harsh words may be regurgitated. Unfortunately, when one emits emotion in this way, the emesis of expression does not purify; it stokes the inner dis-ease and aggravates the external consequence.

For several months, I have been actively engaging with the causes and continuances of anger from  personal yesteryear. I am beginning to notice a direct link from the past; a through line as I have aged; and a new manifestation of and target for my angry reactions to very specific situations and types of people. In all of this, I am slowly recognizing the great gift of “triggers.” It has recently dawned on me that a person who is relatively new to my life may be the very annoyance that I need, in order to observe and recalibrate my typical response to a special brand of anger.

Said person is, frankly, not one who inspires compassion and empathy: Most who cross her path are either dismayed by her words in the moment; or, perhaps worse, taken in by her fleeting friendliness, only to be later stunned when she turns. The key, I believe, is to maintain one’s ethos, steadfastness, and equipoise in every encounter with this person (or any other who “sets you off”). Although I have managed to do so most of the time, my “nemesis” returns time and again with a different, out-of-the-blue bone to pick (on bones that have been picked clean long ago). 

As this pattern continued over the course of the last several months, I consciously began practices and meditations whose aim was to conquer or diffuse inner anger; recently, I embarked upon a 40-day kriya to repair damage of long-held anger. And then just yesterday, Nemesis threw another curve ball, one that landed on a tender spot in my heart and psyche. My response was silence, despite the fuming words forming in my mind: The pathway from thought to tongue was clear for take-off, yet I remained silent; as I battled to not inflame the situation with my own broiling vitriol, I suddenly recognized the futility of engaging. My aim would have been to override her goal, and a battle would have begun. My response would have been the ingredient necessary to create conflict: It takes two to tangle (pun intended).

As I nodded and walked away, she, too, let the moment drop. I became aware that the time spent dredging, identifying, addressing, feeling, and navigating a new approach to old anger was beginning to make inroads. Although today’s practice focuses on anger, it also provides a general release of damaging emotional detritus; this allows the inner sanctums to be replaced with insight and equanimity.

To begin the emesis of bone-deep, detrimental emotion, lie on the ground, on belly or back: Wriggle. Squirm. Tense and release at will: face, hands, toes, belly, shoulders. As you work to roust and awaken feelings of which you may not even be aware, let any sound issue forth. As the organic unwinding and verbalizing continues, note any particular areas of stickiness, and any oft-repeated sounds. Continue for 5 minutes. (You may still yourself, take a steadying breath break, or otherwise gather yourself at any point; then, recommit to writhing and sounding.)

When you have finished writhing and releasing, lie on your back (if you are not already there). With the entire body, create the shape of a crescent: Bring both legs as far to the right on the floor as possible; curve the body down to the right, keeping both shoulders on the ground. The left arm may reach up by the ear, or remain down by the side. Stay in this deep left-side opening stretch for 1 minute. Then, bend the crescent to the left, creating a stretch for the right side; remain here and breathe steadily for 1 more minute.

From your back, roll to one side, and come into a seated posture: crossed-leg, Lotus, or legs stretched straight out. Using your hands to help lift you, inhale as you raise the buttocks off the ground; exhale as you drop them back down. Find a rapid, consistent pace: Continue these Body Drops for 3 minutes. (If your wrists begin to ache, fist the hands to stabilize the joint.)

Next, still seated, draw the knees in toward the chest, and wrap the arms around the legs to create a ball of your body. Inhale as you rock back on your spine; exhale to rock up. Continue this playful movement for 1 minute.

With the nervous system thoroughly stimulated, sit quietly in your favorite mediation pose. Place one hand in the palm of the other, both palms up, hands nestled in to the low belly. As the breath steadies and deepens, turn your closed eyes up to gaze at the Third Eye. With your innermost self attuned to the Spiritual Eye, take a mental journey through your life: Ponder recent moments and long-ago memories in which your emotions seemed to be a significant factor in the outcome of a situation. Note any patterns resurgences of a particular feeling, circumstance, or persona. Contemplate in this manner for 5-11 minutes.

When you are ready, stand up. (If standing is problematic for you, you may remain seated and participate with the arm movement only.) If standing, begin to run or march, knees high; concurrently, alternate punches forward. With each punch, exhale: The pace of your movement will dictate the pace of your breath. Continue for 3 minutes.

Now, help yourself to the floor, and come into a plank posture (as if preparing to do a push-up). In the held plank, begin Breath of Fire: Keep the eyes open, gazing intently to a spot slightly ahead of you on the floor; continue for 1 minute.

Lower down from plank, and shift back into Baby Pose; remain here until the breath quiets and resumes steady, full respiration. Then, rise up onto all fours, and begin Cat/Cow spinal flexes: Inhale as you arch the spine into Cow; exhale to round the spine fully into Cat. As you move and breathe, consider how you would like to respond to a situation that previously may have unnerved you or tested your commitment to spiritually minded words and actions. With this in mind, attach a mantra to the Cat/Cow flexes: Chant, “Ong,” in Cow; “So Hung” as you round into Cat.

This mantra provides potency for whatever you intend to achieve: In this case, the desired outcome is one of “being and doing better,” despite external provocation. Continue the spinal flexes with mantra for an additional 3 minutes.

To finish your practice, sit comfortably, hands in Prayer Pose at the Heart Center. Turn your closed eyes up to gaze at the Third Eye. Find the innate melody and harmony of your breath’s rhythm. Breathe in this simple, traditional posture for 3-5 minutes. Then, ease into Svasana for at least another 5 minutes.

Happy Sunday…