In the world of fitness, recovery days are as crucial as workout days: In order to refresh and strengthen, motivation and muscles require a break from activity. In yoga, the rest pose, Svasana, reflects the need for a period of consolidation and integration following active practice. Kundalini yoga, in particular, advocates the ability to inhabit stillness and ease after vigorous kriya (exercise): Often, kundalini sets call for multiple moments of rest throughout the practice. These recovery periods train the body and mind to rise to challenge, and then to return quickly to a state of equanimity, readying one for what lies ahead.
Today’s Silent Sunday offers the opportunity to slip away from past demands, be they of the previous day, week, or month. The focus of the practice delivers one from enervating struggles of the past, and frees the mind from overthinking: Today’s routine delves into the unsullied space of the moment, and fills it with the balm of breath paired with gentle movement.
Start standing. Whether your body needs to relax physically, or your mind needs to decompress, the first step is to unlock tension. To release stiffness and to dispel mental fatigue, the circulatory system needs stimulation. Using an open palm, begin to briskly slap one arm: The touch is intentional, but not aggressive; there should be the sense of “waking up,” rather than discomfort. In order to access the entire arm, including the armpit, extend the arm out or up: Move quickly, making 5-10 passes up and down the length of the arm. Be sure to spend time around the elbow and shoulder joints, and include the front and back of the hand.
Then, move to the other arm, again slapping up, down, and all around, for 5-10 trips along the arm.
After the arms, use both hands to slap the front, back, and sides of the torso. Continue for at least 1 minute.
Next, move the lower body. Again, use both hands to energize the hips, thighs, knees, and lower legs. This part of the sequence may be done sitting, after the hips have been slapped. When you arrive at the feet, include some light toe tugs and stretches. Spend about 5 minutes tending to the entire lower body.
Now, come to the floor to lie on the belly. Breathe deeply here for a few rounds of breath; then, slide your hands under your upper thighs, just beneath the pelvic bones, fingers pointing toward the feet. The legs lie in the palms; use the hands to push the thighs upward as you raise the entire leg: You are giving yourself an assist for Half-Locust. Inhale to lift the legs with the help of the hands; exhale to lower. Repeat for a total of 12 lifts.
Next, interlace the hands behind the back, and extend the arms straight. You will now do the upper-body half of the Locust Pose. Inhale to stretch the arms back as the head, chest, and shoulders lift; exhale to lower, either onto the forehead or chin. Again, complete 12 lifts.
Then, roll onto one side of your body, so that the entire body is in a straight line. If you need help to keep from rolling forward or back, bend the bottom leg to create support. Make a pillow of your bottom arm, and allow the head to rest on it. Then, lift the top leg a few inches; reach the leg back, moving from the hip, without allowing the hip to tilt forward. Simultaneously, extend the top arm out from the shoulder at an angle; imagine that there is a perfect diagonal formed with the leg in hip extension, and the outstretched arm. Inhale and exhale through the nose 5 times as you extend in opposite directions.
Then, release the stretch, and repeat on the other side.
Now, come onto all fours for some traditional Cat/Cow spinal flexes. After about a minute of inhaling and exhaling with the spinal movement, steady yourself in the neutral position. Bring the right leg up behind you, and bend at the knee; reach the left arm back, so that the hand can hold the right foot or ankle. Stabilize the posture with the support hand and leg, as well as by engaging the abdominal wall. Allow a slight arch (extension) in the spine, and look straight ahead: Focus on a small point or object, and begin Breath of Fire. Continue for 1 minute.
Release the pose, and repeat on the other side: right hand holding left foot or ankle, with Breath of Fire for 1 minute.
Next, shift back into Baby Pose for a few deep breaths. Then, rise up to sit on your heels; alternatively, you may sit in a crossed-leg pose, or with the legs extended straight in front. Close the eyes, gazing upward to the Third Eye. Begin Sufi Grinds, circling the torso to the right (clockwise) as the spine moves through a full range of motion. Inhale as you circle forward, allowing the pelvis to tip slightly forward as the spine extends; as you move through the right side-space, the spine will gently bend laterally to the left.
Exhale as the back flexes (rounds) and circles to the back; allow the pelvis to tip back a bit. Again, as the circling motion bases into the left side-space, the spine naturally moves into a gentle lateral bend to the right. Throughout this fluid circling, allow the neck to move freely; any lingering tension in the head and neck will begin to dissipate. Circle at a comfortable, steady pace for 3 minutes, and then reverse the direction of the movement, circling counter-clockwise for another 3 minutes.
Finally, move into restful Svasana for as long as you like.