Today’s Silent Sunday practice uses mudra, mantra, and simple qi gong-based movement to reset a mood or mindset gone awry. On those days when there seems to be no right side of the bed to exit; or when you just can not seem to “synch up” with the beat of the day, this routine will help. I designed the four-part mudra for the first part of the practice to reflect the shifting, perhaps unusual energies around you that may contribute to a sense of uneasiness or restlessness.
To begin, sit on your heels, if possible. If you prefer to sit with crossed legs, be sure to pull the flesh of the buttocks to the back and side; this will ensure that your sit bones root firmly into the ground. First, bring your hands into traditional Prayer Mudra an inch or two in front of the Heart center, forearms parallel to the ground. Then, move the palms away from each other, while maintaining contact with the middle fingertips: The hands and wrists will be in line with the forearms, palms facing down. Next, bring the backs of the hands to touch, so that the fingers point down. Finally, turn the fingertips toward you, and keep rotating the hands until you create a “reverse” Prayer Mudra in front of the Heart (palms facing the sides, fingers pointing up).
As you move through the four stages of the mudra, consciously breathe with the transitions. Inhale as you begin in Prayer; exhale to spread the hands, palms down; inhale to turn the fingers downward; and exhale in Reverse Prayer. The third phase may feel awkward at first; we naturally resist downward-directed moves upon inhalation. As you continue the steady shifts, your mind will begin to accommodate the discomfort, eventually finding a flow.
Along with the 4-count mudra, silently chant “Sa Ta Na Ma.” This is a oft-used mantra, and speaks to the eternal cycle of Life. As your hands twist and turn, the mantra reminds us that earthly life is full of those contortions: When we consciously engage with the ups and downs, and ins and outs, our nervous system learns to remain steady despite the circuitous route. So, in Prayer, chant Sa; palms down, chant Ta; fingers down, chant Na; and in Reverse Prayer, chant Ma. Continue the moving mudra with mantra for 5 minutes.
When you are ready, briskly shake and rub the hands. You may feel the need to do some wrist, shoulder, and head rolls to offset the demanding hand work of the mudras. Then, come to a standing position. Inhale as you raise the arms up through the side space; exhale to interlace the fingers overhead, and turn the hands to press the palms up toward the sky. Inhale again as you stretch and lengthen upward, then exhale to sweep the arms back down to your sides. Repeat 7 more times, alternating the interlace of the fingers each time. (If you naturally laced the first time with the right index finger nestled between the left index and middle, your next lacing will be with the left index between the first two fingers of the right hand.)
Now, widen your stance, so that the feet are about a yard apart. Bend your knees slightly, if necessary, and come into a forward bend. Reach your hands back as far as possible between your legs, palms flat on the ground, fingers facing back: Lift your head slightly, as if to look forward. Again, this may be an unfamiliar position, so tend to the needs of your neck. If necessary, allow the head to hang. Begin Breath of Fire through an open mouth (as if panting like a dog), eyes softly closed. Continue for 1-3 minutes.
From the wide-leg forward bend, gently ease yourself onto all fours. If it feels good, do a few Cat/Cows, or fluid undulations. Then, shift into Baby Pose: Place the backs of your hands on the low back, one hand resting in the palm of the other. (If your shoulder flexibility does not allow this, rest the hands on the ground by your feet, palms up.) Breathe deeply here for 1-3 minutes. Then, help yourself into Svasana. Rest quietly for at least 5 minutes.