May the title of today’s piece allude to a foggy memory in the very near future.
As of this moment, though, the corona virus (COVID-19) currently affects the entire world. For many, this period has triggered the primal survival instinct and upended a sense of basic security. Granted, each person is, to some degree, at risk for the virus: However, common sense and today’s practice can help assuage pervasive anxiety and its many manifestations during this precarious time.
One aspect of this “national emergency” that can be tempered immediately is the way in which we receive language that perhaps subliminally heightens nervousness. When one is ill, the most fundamental step to take is to stay home. The phrases “self-isolate” and “self-quarantine” have been coined for this rudimentary practice; in my opinion, the words perpetuate anxiety and disconnectedness.
Additionally, the body-language lexicon of greeting gestures is changing. Hugs and handshakes now invoke near-recoiling; fist and elbow bumps are meant to serve as the new salutations. The term for this shift, “social distancing” (which also includes general limiting of sharing space with others), is another linguistic snake, surreptitiously winding its way into the psyches of humans with its poison of paranoia.
While there is a need to heed basic preventive practices and to be mindful of the health of self and of others, it is crucial to monitor the way in which one responds to overarching social precautions. Should you find yourself losing sleep, frightened to leave your home, or agonizing over “what may happen,” take yourself through today’s routine for a dose of deep calm, insight, and renewed positivity.
To begin, lie on your back with legs long and arms by your sides. This first exercise will harmonize the left and right sides of the brain, which will garner rational, objective thinking. On the inhale, draw the left knee in toward the body as the right arm rises up and over the head to the floor: Exhale to return the leg and arm to the original position. Inhale the right knee in as the left arm floats up and over to the floor; exhale back to neutral. Continue alternating sides, breathing fully and deeply, for 3 minutes.
Next, roll over onto the belly. Perch the chin on the ground with the arms by the sides, palms against the floor. Inhale as you lift the hips up; the belly and upper thighs should also lift away from the ground. Exhale to lower down. Continue to inhale and lift the mid-body, and exhale to lower. Move as quickly as you can: This move will rouse and balance the First Chakra, which is responsible for feelings of safety and security. Continue for 2 minutes.
Briefly press back into Baby Pose for a few deep, restful breaths. Then, roll up to sit on the heels, or in a crossed-leg position. Extend the arms to the sides at shoulder level, palms up: Rapidly open and close the fingers into the palms; inhale to curl the fingers, and exhale to extend them straight. The breath will become close to a Breath of Fire as the breath matches the quick pace of the moving fingers. Continue for 1 minute.
Now, turn the palms down to face the floor. Continue the same breath and finger movement for another minute. To complete this kriya for nerve reorganization, bring the arms up to a 60-degree angle in your side space; it will be as if your head and shoulders are the base of a V shape formed with the arms. With palms facing each other, repeat the rapid breath and finger movement for one more minute.
Next, extend the legs straight out in front of you. Using your hands, flat or in fists on the floor next to the hips, lift the buttocks and legs off of the floor: Immediately drop the body back down to the ground. Inhale to lift; exhale to drop. Attempt to lift the hips and both legs, including the feet, up; engage the lower abdominal and quadricep muscles to aid this move. If you can not include the feet, simply lift and drop the hips and thighs. Continue for 3 minutes. This move shakes free tension and fear that can roost in the First Chakra, thereby eliminating the sense of threat and vulnerability.
Finally, come into your favorite seated posture for a meditation with visualization. Rest the back of the hands on the knees, palms open, fingers relaxed. Close the eyes, and begin to breathe in and out through the nose, deepening the breath into the throat with a hollow, whooshing sound. Consciously lengthen and slow each breath in and out.
As you breathe, begin to silently chant the following mantra: “Brain and body, health and peace.” If you feel drawn to different wording, or have a particular mantra that evokes protection and calm for you, feel free to use it. Regardless of the words you choose, inhale as you gaze (through closed lids) up to the Third Eye; exhale as you visualize healthy, comforting breath flowing down through the spinal corridor.
Then, inhale into the Heart Center; exhale to see and send healing energy down through the arms into the palms and fingers. Next, inhale into the Dan Tien (three finger widths below the navel); exhale to send the breath down through both legs into soles of the feet and toes.
Using the suggested mantra, inhale as you silently chant, “Brain and body;” exhale on the words “health and peace.” Continue the pattern of inhale/exhale first with Third Eye/ spine; then with Heart Center/arms; and finally with low belly and legs. Repeat the cycle, infusing your physiology and psyche with clear, calm, and healthy energy, for 11 minutes.
To close the practice, settle into the deep rest of Svasana for as long as you like.