Today’s routine was borne from a couple of days of accumulated stress that culminated in this morning’s (unplanned) 12:45 am wake-up. The combination of overthinking and physical challenge resulted in a tension headache, inability to sleep peacefully, and a flare-up of a slow-to-heal injury. Perhaps you have had your own version of “too much, too fast” that left you wondering what to address first: mental or physical discomfort? Should you find yourself in such a predicament, the following blueprint of a self-treatment session may help.
I refer to this Silent Sunday routine as a “blueprint,” because the nature of each person’s physical or mental woes is inherently unique. Thus, you may intuit the need to use different essential oils than the ones I suggest here; or you may gravitate toward a series of postures other than those I chose. Very much like variations on a recipe, the method remains fairly set; the ingredients or seasonings, however, may differ somewhat according to personal taste.
What I recognized almost immediately in my pursuit of feeling better was that I would not be able to still and meditate until I had soothed the tension in my head and neck, and calmed the nagging pain in my hip and leg. So, the first step was a traditional self-massage, enhanced with essential oils. To a combination of jojoba and Vitamin E oil, I added thyme and geranium; this mix I applied liberally from knee to hip. Wherever you ache, knead and stroke, gently or firmly, for at least 5 minutes.
I then used the nearly fail-proof headache and tension remedy of peppermint and lavender oils. This elixir went onto my feet and ankles, and then my neck and temples. Again, use this time to deeply focus on and attend to your wellness: Self-care in this respect becomes a meditation in its own right. As you manifest your healing intention and direct it accordingly, your mental and physical bodies align; balance resumes, and deeper contemplation, prayer, or mediation once again becomes accessible.
Once I had settled the most overt tension, I assumed a prone position on the ground. This is where your “blueprint” may differ: The crucial element to this practice is that you follow your body’s lead; akin to Authentic Movement (which I have discussed in previous writings), the postures should emanate from inner rhythms and thought-free directives.
From prone, I entered Sphinx Pose: upper body in a gentle arch, supported on the forearms. Then, after some wiggles and undulations, I lowered the body down. Next, bending the right knee, I reached the left hand back to hold the right foot. With the right hand in Gyan Mudra (index finger to thumb tip) and placed on the low back, I slightly lifted the right leg off the ground. After several deep breaths, I switched sides.
Next came Rocking Bow. In classic Bow, begin to rock back and forth: inhale to rock back, exhale to rock forward. Continue for 30-60 seconds.
Baby Pose came as a welcome respite after a round of front-body opening. Remain in the posture for as long as you like, breathing deeply.
Then, I practiced a variation of Bharadvajrasana: seated, left knee bent with left foot outside left hip on the floor; right knee bent, with right foot into groin area. (Both knees are on the floor, pointing to the right.) First, lean to the left, opening the right side body. Follow this side bend with a twist to the right: left hand on right knee, right hand on the floor behind to assist in maintaining a long spine. Find your comfort zone in which to breathe into the twist for a full minute. Change the position of the legs, so that the knees point left: repeat the side bend and twist to the right and left, respectively.
Finally, I rolled up into Shoulder Stand. There, I allowed my legs to swim through the air in all directions, unearthing and releasing any remnants of tension. If you choose to do the pose, feel free to remain in the posture for however long you like.
Then, I rolled down, moving into Karnapidasana. (Typically, the latter posture would follow Plow, or Halasana; however, I felt the immediate need to bend my knees and snuggle them in next to their respective ears.) If you prefer, or your body requires, skip Shoulder Stand, Plow, and/or Karnapidasana: Instead, simply lie on your back with legs in the air at a 90-degree angle; you will nonetheless reap calming benefits from the modified inversion.
Next, to ensure that your replenished brain and neck feel balanced, rise up to sit in an easy crossed-leg pose. With arms behind you and fingers interlaced, ease into a simple forward bend; aim to place the chin on the floor. If this is not possible for you, release the hands from behind; place the elbows on the floor in front of you, forearms bent up to 90 degrees. Bend forward to rest your chin in the cup of your hands, thus creating a gentle counterpose to the previous inversion sequence.
You may use this full routine as a practice unto itself; or perhaps you will feel sufficiently refreshed that a longer practice beckons. Regardless, rest easy: You have tended to your own well-being, and paved the way toward a…