Special note: Each month, I contribute a piece from Everything Elsa to my gym’s newsletter. As a result of an early deadline, the following post intended for Jan. 1, 2020, appears on Everything Elsa ahead of time. Feel free to get a jump on the new year by practicing this routine for the next 5 days. Or, save today’s post for a special practice on the first day of 2020, a year destined to provide a sense of solidity in all areas of life.
In numerology, 2020 is a Four Year. The number four signifies the concretization of whatever ideas, plans, or intentions have been in the works. The new year will be a time when we begin to see the material and spiritual culmination of all that we have been working toward; praying for; and meditating upon. Think of a “pranic square”: an evenly balanced vessel of accumulated, equally distributed energy.
To honor the Four, and to help usher in this distinctive vibrational period, the following practice breaks any chains or blocks that may be holding you back from “solidifying” goals or dreams. The routine contains two pairings: Each begins with a vigorous clearing exercise; then, its partner opens the front body to receive and integrate the energy of solidification, the bedrock of what is to come. A meditation to establish the optimal inner environment for this energy rounds out the practice.
To begin, come into your favorite seated posture. If your upper body feels stiff, do a few warm ups: e.g., spinal flexes, shoulder shrugs and/or rolls, gentle twists. Then, bend your elbows in by the waist, forearms parallel to each other, and hands in light fists. Inhale as you cross the wrists, one over the other, but not touching; strongly chant, “Har,” as you firmly and quickly yank the arms back to their original position. (To heighten the energy of “Har,” which is the sound of Sun, or energizing energy, touch the tip of the tongue to the upper palate, just behind the front teeth, as you enunciate.)
Slightly open the fists when they cross, as if grasping a binding chain; then close the fists as you retract the arms back to their starting position. Call to mind whatever or whoever you feel has been holding you back; free yourself from any constraint as you pull back and “break the chain.” Repeat a total of 8 times with the chant.
Then, still seated, assertively open the Third and Fourth chakras, i.e., the entire area from solar plexus to upper chest. To do so, bend the elbows with palms facing each other, fingers pointing up, a few inches apart, at the level of the sternum. Inhale, and then exhale strongly as you quickly shoot the palms away from each other, about 8-10 inches to either side. Inhale as they quickly return to the original position. As you exhale the hands apart, be careful not to squeeze the shoulder blades together. Keep the shoulders steady; isolate the energy in the front space of the upper body. Find a rapid, sharp rhythm as you repeat for a total of 8 powerful open-and-closes.
To complete this paired sequence, repeat three more times: the Har chant and chain-breaking move, followed by the invigorating chest opener. When you have finished four rounds of the two 8-repetition exercises, you are ready to practice the next set.
For the first half of the second pairing, lie on your back with the legs straight up over the hips. inhale, then exhale to bring the left foot down to kick the left buttock. Rapidly straighten the left leg back up; exhale to kick the right buttock with the right foot. Inhale the right leg back up; exhale to kick the left. Continue swift, alternate butt kicks for a total of 20 kicks (i.e., 10 kicks on each side). The movement and breath are strong and quick; use the physical power to dislodge and eject any stored emotional pain that may reside in the hips.
After the 20 alternating kicks, bend the knees to place the feet on the floor, parallel to each other and hip-width apart. If possible, reach down to hold the ankles with each hand; otherwise, keep the hands on the ground wherever they naturally fall. Inhale to lift the hips and torso up into a modified Bridge Pose; exhale to immediately lower down. Repeat a total of 4 lifts, breathing fully and powerfully with each lift.
Repeat this second pairing 3 more times, for a total of 4 rounds: 20 alternating buttock kicks, followed by 4 Bridge lifts. After you have completed this sequence, rest briefly on your back, stretching in any way that you need to. Then, come into a seated posture.
The meditation for this practice also will be repeated 4 times; additionally, each piece of the mantra has four syllables, each of which will be repeated 4 times. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, the hand placements and sequence are as follows:
The full mantra is Sa Ta Na Ma/ Ra Ma Da Sa/ Sa Say So Hung. (The “a” sound is pronounced “ah,” except as indicated in the final “say.”) For the first portion—Sa Ta Na Ma—rest one palm, with the other covering it, on the lower belly, or Dan Tien: the point is located about 2 inches below the navel. Inhale: Suspend the breath in as you silently chant, “Sa Ta Na Ma,” 4 times. Exhale: Keep the breath out as you again chant the “seed sounds” 4 times.
As you inhale, immediately move the hands into Prayer Pose (Anjali Mudra), pressing into the Heart center. Suspend the breath, and silently chant, “Ra Ma Da Sa,” four times. Exhale: With the breath out, repeat the silent chant 4 times.
To start the final piece of the mantra, inhale as you loosely interlace the fingers, and bring the hands about 4 inches over the head, palms down. (The thumb tips may touch, or slightly cross.) With the breath in, silently chant, “Sa Say So Hung” four times. Exhale: With the breath out, repeat the inner chant 4 more times.
The entire meditation requires 3 more rounds, for a total of four. As you move through the next three rounds, feel free to experiment with your vocalization of the mantra: Perhaps you feel drawn to whisper; maybe you wish to chant out loud. You may also find that the hand placements—roughly at the Second, Fourth, and Seventh chakra levels—dictate the tonal quality of the mantra.
When you have completed four rounds of the multi-repetition mantra, rest your hands on your knees or thighs: Allow the inner reverberation of the mantra to decide whether the palms face up or down. As the innate clearing and healing energy of the mantra settles in, relax your closed eyes. Softly see yourself in whatever situation has been eluding you, or that you have been attempting to stabilize. Breathe deeply with the knowledge that this coming Four Year is vibrationally conducive to the solidification of your vision.
If you like, finish the practice with a few minutes of consolidation in svasana.