Almost everyone has had the experience of waking up and, seemingly without cause, feeling a little “blah.” While a good night’s sleep aims to restore our minds and bodies, dormant concerns can rise out of the subconscious, leading to unexpected malaise. Further, restlessness or a convoluted sleep position can leave the body stiff or sapped of vitality.
On such occasions, I typically gravitate toward gentle yoga or body-aligning techniques to ameliorate physical woes. I have found that by circulating the blood and focusing my mind on healing practices, I can generally remedy a less-than-optimal beginning to the day. This morning, however, my mind went straight to essential oils: I decided to brew a blend designed to boost my mood, and to nurture a steady turn toward spiritual contemplation.
Into about a teaspoon or tablespoon of your preferred oil (e.g., jojoba, Vitamin E), add 3-5 drops each of: bergamot, lavender, and amyris. Ideally, you would use sandalwood: However, the plant is endangered and often harvested irresponsibly; consequently, properly made sandalwood oil comes at a steep price. Amyris’ properties and effects make it a worthy replacement; otherwise, you may use frankincense or myrrh.
Vigorously rub the oil into the soles and tops of your feet; continue massaging the oil into your lower legs and behind the knees. Then, lightly, yet rapidly slap the soles of your feet, and rub and squeeze the entire foot and ankle. With whatever oil lingers on your fingertips, rub it between the webbings of your fingers and into the lobes and rims of the ears.
Special note: If you do not have essential oils, forage in your pantry. To replicate the intention and aromatic synergy of the blend I made, gather the following: ginger (ideally, shavings off of the root); orange peel (other citrus will work in a pinch); and dried lavender. (Chamomile or jasmine tea bags would be a suitable substitute.) Place generous amounts of each ingredient in a sachet made of cheese cloth, or directly into a pot of steaming water. The soothing and uplifting scents soon will infuse the air, imbuing your practice with revitalizing energy.
Next, come onto all fours for a few rounds of Cat/Cow. When the spine is arched and flexed, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid is enhanced, the chakras are stimulated, and the mind becomes more alert. If you like, move into a few more variations of spinal flexes (i.e., seated or standing), or add your favorite warmup exercises.
Now, lie on the ground. If your body has bony protrusions, or you feel a bit fragile, pad the area beneath you with an extra blanket or two. When you are ready, begin Body Jumps. This is an exercise that may take a bit of time to execute fully: At first, you may find that you only “jump” your upper body or legs; be mindful to include a full lifting jump of the buttocks and lower legs. Ideally, you would jump as much of the body at one time as possible. Naturally, your breath will begin to accelerate, the blood will begin to circulate, and the nervous system will become wide awake. Continue to jump and flop for 2 minutes.
When you are finished, lie quietly to allow the breath to return to normal. For deep comfort, bend your knees, feet on the floor, slightly wider than the hips. Allow the toes to turn inward, and the knees to fall into each other. This is a deeply restorative posture and greatly soothing for the low back. After 1-3 minutes in “constructive rest,” reach your arms and legs long in opposite directions: Give yourself a full-body stretch, and then roll to one side to sit up.
Seated crossed-leg, form Prithivi Mudra, which will further gather energy to send throughout your entire system. Curl the ring fingers inside their respective thumbs; the other fingers are extended long and separate from each other. Bring the arms to shoulder level, reaching straight out to the sides; the palms face up with the mudra intact. Here, inhale deeply through rounded lips, and then exhale powerfully with Lion’s Breath (tongue extended out and down, eyes rolled up). Repeat two more times.
Finally, sit with your eyes closed, gazing at the Third Eye, and the hands resting on the knees, palms down. In this easy meditation posture, inhale long and deep through the nose, and exhale through rounded lips. Repeat two more times, then come into silence and stillness for at least 5 minutes (longer if you like or have the time), breathing normally. As you sit, allow your heart to open to the Universal Consciousness, fully connecting your being to the Universal Self. In this state, you will enter the day with a mind and body that feel positive and alive.