Whether you are feeling a bit shaky amid personal difficulties, or whether current global upheavals and uncertainties have rendered you somewhat anxious, today’s practice offers an antidote. As I often suggest, a short round of simple warm-up movements will help you achieve a fuller, more comfortable expression of this Silent Sunday’s demanding postural focus. The pose requires flexibility and strength through the hips, spine, and shoulders: Feel free to modify or prop yourself, in order to support any area that needs a bit of extra help.
To begin today’s practice, come to a standing position with feet comfortably apart. Clasp your hands behind you, and stretch the arms straight. Inhale to arch slightly backward and look up, exhale to come as far forward and down as you can. Allow the knees to bend slightly at first; also, as you bend forward, let the arms float away from the back. This will help to warm and loosen the arm from the shoulder through the bicep, which will help you in the final posture. Continue to inhale up, exhale down for 2 minutes.
When you reach your last exhale down into forward bend, release the hands from behind you; let the arms and head hang for a few breaths in Standing Forward Bend. Then, hold the ankles—or wherever you can reach—and inhale: As you exhale, bend the knees and crouch down into full squat, still holding your ankles. Inhale to raise the buttocks as you straighten the legs, again moving into forward bend, head hanging down. Continue this up/down movement from forward bend into squat for 2 minutes.
Now, move onto all fours for a few rounds of Cat/Cow. Then, come all the way onto your belly for Gentle Bow. Bend the knees, and reach back to hold the ankles: You may keep your head on the floor, or lift it to whatever point is comfortable. Simply remain here—no further effort of lift into Full Bow is necessary—and breathe deeply for 1 minute. After this easy opening of the front body, push back into Baby Pose for a few breaths, allowing your spine to relax and your breath awareness to deepen.
After you slowly roll up and out of Baby Pose, you will be sitting on your heels. Ideally, you will keep the left heel underneath you, as you bring the right foot flat on the floor in front of you: The right knee points up to the ceiling. If you can not comfortably sit on the left heel, try placing a pillow or blanket between the heel and buttock. Alternatively, bring the heel out from under you, and place it next to the right foot on the floor; the left knee rests on the ground. You may still require a bit of lift if you have a stiff lower back or hips: Sit on the edge of a pillow or rolled blanket.
Next, interlace your fingers: For women, the left thumb rests on top of the right (Venus Lock); for men, the lacing is opposite, i.e., right thumb over left. Bring this mudra overhead, stretching through the elbows to bring your arms as straight as possible. Now, flip the mudra, so that the palms face upward. This opening and stretching of the palms infuses the Heart energy—a point of which is found in the center of each palm— with the energy of the Divine. As you align yourself with the eternal wisdom of the Universe, earthly woes become more diffuse.
Initially, you may find it quite difficult to stretch up and out of the challenging seated position: This pose demands supple, yet powerful back muscles along the entirety of the spine. If necessary, allow slight bending in the arms; or, you may need to keep the right hand on the ground behind you, while stretching the left upward alongside your ear. If you choose to do this modification, bend the left wrist back, so that the palm still faces up.
Once you have chosen a workable version of the position for your body, close your eyes and gaze at the Third Eye. Breath deeply and consciously for 3 minutes. Focus on the rootedness and stability through the base of the pose; simultaneously, feel the kundalini energy flowing into the Upper Triangle of chakras. It is this partnership of grounding and elevation that allows you to approach challenges with consistent positivity.
After three minutes, shake out your legs, and switch to the other side: right heel underneath the perineum, or just in front of the genitals, with the right knee open and to the ground; left foot on the floor, pulled in close to you, with the left knee pointing upward. Again, determine how much of the upward stretch with the arms you can manage; it may differ from the first side.
You may also decide that you would like to try the full arm extension with flipped-up Venus Lock. In that case, you may instead modify the seated pose into a simple crossed-leg pose. Eventually, with practice, you will be able to inhabit the full version of the posture. Regardless, breathe deeply into the “body mudra” for another 3 minutes.
When you are ready, unwind from your selected variation of the second side: Stretch, shake, or massage wherever you need. Then, come onto your back for a full-body stretch, perhaps adding a reclined twist: Breathe deeply for a few breaths, and then move into svasana for at least a few minutes.