When you feel the need to boost your mood or instill a dose of confidence, try today’s pranayama, mantra, and mudra practice The synergy of this Silent Sunday’s particular combination of techniques invigorate the mind, balances the nervous system, and strengthens one’s feeling of capability.
To begin, sit on your heels with the toes curled under, stretching the balls and arches of the feet. This reflexology position opens the lungs and stimulates the energy of the brain and upper spine. If the position is untenable for you, sit on the heels with toes extended back on the floor; you may use a pillow between your buttocks and heels for comfort.
In your preferred version of Rock Pose, place one hand on your heart, and the other on your low belly, covering the navel with the palm of the hand. Let your energetic intuition guide which hand occupies which position. Inhale deeply through your nose to a count of 4; exhale through rounded lips, creating a windy, woosh-y sound, to a count of 6. Breathe at this pace until you have established truly complete breathing, and then increase the inhale to 6, exhale to 8. Once you feel comfortable with this, breathe in slowly and deeply for 8; pause for 2; and exhale for 10.
To transition to the next part of the practice, sit in an easy crossed-leg pose, hands on your knees or in your lap, palms up. Breathe normally with no specific count. When you feel ready, come onto all fours for a few rounds of Cat/Cow spinal flexes. This excellent, simple move prepares the body for the next exercise.
Now, from the kneeling position, extend your legs straight behind you to configure Plank posture. As this is a somewhat demanding posture on its own, which you will maintain for a bit of time, feel free to bend the knees slightly or all the way to the ground at some point. In whatever variation of plank you can muster, keep the head and neck integrated with the spine, and prevent the hips from sagging toward the ground. Begin Breath of Fire in the position, and continue for 3 minutes. (If you need a break, breathe normally while in the posture, and then resume Breath of Fire.)
After the energizing, empowering Plank, move into Baby Pose, bottom on heels, forehead on floor. Let the backs of your hands rest on your lower back, or on the floor by your feet. Re-establish smooth, full breaths, in and out through the nose. When you feel centered, sit up and come into your crossed-leg pose again. If you like, sit on the edge of a pillow to elevate your hips slightly; this adjustment will help you sit for the final pranayama, mantra, and mudra.
Matangi Mudra is one of my all-time favorite mudras, and is useful anytime you want to feel steady and calm. To configure the mudra, interlace all of the fingers, palms together. Next, extend the middle fingers straight up and together. While this may be challenging if your wrists and forearm muscles are tight, stick with it; if your palms pull slightly away from each other, that is okay.
Hold the mudra in front of you at the level of the solar plexus. Begin Sitali pranayama: Inhale through the curled (or slightly protruding) tongue like a straw; exhale through the nose. Continue for 3 minutes.
Finally, in your seated pose, release the mudra and breathing pattern. The mantra for this Silent Sunday is: Humee Hum Brahm Hum (which sounds just as it is spelled). You may chant out loud; in a whisper; or silently. Often, I begin with a few rounds in normal voice; then move into a whisper; and chant mostly in silence. Transition from one the next as your intuition tells you to; continue for 5-11 minutes.
The essential meaning of the mantra is that each of us is part of the eternal spirit of the Universe; there is no separation, although our physical, earthly existence creates the illusion that we are distinct creatures. When you sit with this mantra, you begin to align with the Divine; ultimately, the reality that you are one with it becomes unquestionable—becomes Reality.