The past couple of weeks have been full of meetings, appointments, surprises from the Universe, and social interactions: lots going on. Throughout this busy phase, I frequently called upon some of the following movements for a push or a pull over walls of enervation. Each move is a stand-alone technique that may be used at any point throughout the day: However, you may also string together a sequence, in order to create a short routine with even more clout.
Regardless of how you choose to use these ideas, I suggest that you begin with a lying-down preparation, and close with a seated pranayama and mudra. Again, you could use this recommended “warm-up” and “cool-down” as a practice unto itself; the two will increase circulation, balance energies, and improve focus.
First, to prepare, lie on your back. Lengthen your arms overhead as if doing a full-body stretch in bed. Push firmly out through your heels as you stretch the fingers in the opposite direction. Then, leaving the left arm as is, sweep the right arm down along the floor; reach the right hand as far down toward the right foot as possible; allow your body to bend into this reach, opening the left side body. Then, bring the right arm back up along the ear, and sweep the left arm down to reach and bend, opening the right side body. When finished, realign yourself, and do another full-body stretch.
Next, for the first move, raise your arms and legs up to 90 degrees, into “Dead Bug” position. Shake and flop your limbs and body for a full minute. Then, inhale deeply, and lower the right arm and left leg as you exhale. Inhale again, and as you exhale, simultaneously lower the left arm and right leg. Inhale to raise the left leg and right arm back up to 90 degrees; exhale to lower. Inhale to raise the right leg and left arm; exhale to lower. Repeat 6 more times on each side for a total of 8 sets.
Now, turn on to your left side. Raise the right leg, and grasp the big toe with your first two fingers and thumb. If you can not do with without bending the knee, hold behind the thigh or shin; the leg should be as straight as your ability allows. Prop yourself up on your left elbow, and rest your head in your left hand. Inhale deeply and powerfully through your nose, and exhale forcefully, with a loud whoosh, through your mouth. Continue this Cannon Breath for 1 minute.
Next, help yourself up into a standing position, feet comfortably and firmly apart. With your hands on your hips, begin to circle your torso to the right (clockwise); as you become less stiff and more familiar with the movement, increase the depth and width of the circles. Breathing deeply in and out through the nose, circle as far back, to the sides, forward, and down as you can. Continue for 2 minutes, then reverse the circle for another 2 minutes. This Master Move from kundalini yoga is a thorough cleanse for the Liver, and furthers the work begun in the previous position with Cannon Breath.
For the final move, bend forward and hold your ankles, shins, or behind your knees, whatever your body allows. Keeping the head in line with the spine (i.e., try not to crank it forward; rather, maintain length in the back of the neck), begin to walk all around your space. This Elephant Walk challenges the heart, due to the inverted position; further, because the head typically prefers to “be above,” or dominate Heart energy, this move encourages mental and emotional expansion and refreshment. Although walking in this manner will likely feel awkward at first, stay with it for 3 minutes; change directions, stride length, and pace, and let a sense of playful curiosity guide your movement.
In order to balance your energies after Elephant Walk, slowly roll up to stand quietly. Raise your arms above your head, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for about 30 seconds. Then, lower your arms, breathe in traditional standing Tadasana for another 30 seconds, and then help yourself down into your preferred seated position on the ground.
To close your practice, and ensure that you are in a state of centeredness, bring your fingers into Rudra Mudra on each hand: Touch the thumb, index, and ring finger tips together; the other two fingers retain their natural length. Place the backs of the hands on the knees, and close your eyes, gazing inwardly up at the Third Eye. Inhale fully, exhale completely, and remain with the breath out for 4-6 seconds, or counts. Inhale deeply again, exhale fully, and again, sit with the empty breath for about 6 seconds: less if you feel uncomfortable, a couple of beats longer if that feels right. Continue this pranayama for 1-3 minutes, then breathe normally for another minute before coming into Svasana. Rest in this Corpse Pose for at least 3 minutes, longer if you have the time.