As today’s Silent Sunday marks the beginning of a 10-day countdown to the year’s end, why not devote the remainder of 2019 to a highly focused, efficient practice for the final days of the decade? The title’s “180 Degrees” speaks not only to a distinct shift of perspective, but to the technique of the routine to be followed for the next 10 days. Each kriya (action, or exercise) of the practice requires some body part to be held at a 60-degree angle from the horizon, or from the body. As there are three movements, the practice adjusts prana (energy) through 180 degrees of power.
Begin with 3-5 minutes of your favorite spine, shoulder, neck, and breathing warmups. I suggest starting with 60 seconds of breath awareness and deepening: Use the breath to suss out the location of physical tension, and to reveal emotions or thoughts that want to distract you from the intention of your practice. Then, spend another minute with Cat/Cow spinal flexes, or arch and round the spine in a seated position. Remember that some of the simplest movements can effectively prepare the body for practice: shoulder shrugs and circles, head rolls, torso circles, dynamic forward bends (inhale up, exhale forward for 30-60 seconds). Be sure to warm and free the muscles and joints each time you come to this routine over the course of the next 10 days.
When you are ready, sit comfortably, eyes closed. Extend the arms straight up alongside the ears, palms facing each other: Then, open each arm about 30 degrees away from the head; this establishes a 60-degree angle from the horizontal. Begin a quick open-close action with the fingers: Inhale as the fingertips pulse in to touch the base of the palms; exhale as they straighten back out. The breath will be rapid, almost a Breath of Fire: Breathe in and out through the nose as the fingers close and open (respectively). With the closed eyes gazing up to the Third Eye, continue this vigorous hand movement for 2 minutes. The action of the fingertips hitting the base of the hand, plus the rapid nasal breath, stimulates the brain, preparing it for change.
Next, establish an intention: Decide what it is that you wish to eject from your life, e.g., patterns of behavior, thought, or emotion. Open yourself to the will of the Universe as a means to replace what you discard with what you need. You need not specify what you want; rather, trust divine and universal wisdom to select on your behalf. The very act of opening to the Unknown may be a change you have not considered. For the next 10 days, allow yourself to investigate what it means to trust in this way.
To dispel that which no longer serves you, and to take in exactly what is meant for you as a new decade dawns, move the arms forward and back at a 60-degree from your body’s axis. Extend the arms straight in front of you, parallel to the floor; then, separate them each about 30 degrees away from that central axis.
Sensorily remember this position in space, and draw the elbows in next to the ribs. Inhale as you thrust the left arm out, palm up; exhale as you “grasp” the air into your fist, and retract the elbow back. Immediately inhale the right arm out, palm open to throw away unnecessary energy of the past year; exhale to grab what you need for the near future, and quickly draw the elbow back. Continue this rapid movement; distinguish the open hand clearly from the “full,” holding hand as you inhale and exhale, out and in, respectively. Continue for 3 minutes.
Special note: It may seem counter-intuitive to breathe in as you discard; or to breathe out as you take in. Consider that the inhale is a call to the Universe as you release unwanted energy; the hand takes ahold of what is given. As you quickly retract the arm, the exhale “deposits” the gifted energy into the pranic (energetic) body.
Finally, in order to introduce and integrate the burgeoning changes into your system, lie on your back. Extend the legs straight up to 90 degrees, feet together and parallel; now, lower both legs about 30 degrees toward the floor. Extend the arms straight up toward the ceiling, shoulder-width with palms facing, and then lower them 30 degrees back over your head.
Special note: If you can not maintain this position with both legs aloft, do one leg at a time. (The non-active leg may be straight out along the floor, or you may bend the knee with the foot on the floor).
Be precise with the position; the magnetic field opens and allows the clearest flow of energy in and out at these angles. With the arms and legs firmly engaged, begin long, deep breathing. As your center awakens and strengthens, the angled channels usher in fresh prana from the Universe. Consciously imagine the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand drawing in the energy like sponges; the posture invigorates the Third Chakra, which acts like a magnet for the prana, drawing it in to your physical and mental bodies. As you breathe here for 3 minutes (change legs about halfway through if you chose to raise one leg at a time), close your eyes, and gaze toward the Third Eye. In this way, the spiritual body connects to the earthly aspects and their changing quality.
Then, hug the knees in toward the chest. Roll side to side, and back and forth; allow the head to rock as you do so. Then, extend the legs out onto the ground, with the arms resting several inches away from the body on the ground. Ease into svasana for a few minutes.
For the next 10 days, as your body begins to adjust to a period of change, take a brief note of any physical, emotional, or intellectual challenges you encounter during each session. Give yourself the great gift of not addressing it any way; simply let the practice take you where you need to go for the days and months—and decade—to come.