During this upended corona virus period, each of us will feel our mood and energy ebb and flow. This undulating wave of energy is natural throughout life; however, when in the midst of a seemingly endless—and somewhat scary—challenge, the fluctuations may seem more pronounced and unsettling. It is likely that at least one day or one hour will mark your personal downswing: The restrictions and the ever-changing statistics and news bulletins diminish energy reserves and the determination to stay positive.
When the stark reality of the situation hits hard—i.e., no one knows how long this will continue, or when we will feel free and safe again—immerse yourself in the following practice. The moves and pranayama reach deeply into the lungs, helping you to breathe more fully. As the breath deepens, the eliminatory function of the Lungs increases; the result is renewed energy and mental clarity. With these qualities reinstated, we can persevere with a balanced perspective.
The yang partner to the Lung organ system is the Large Intestine. These two meridians are located on the inner and outer arm, with the thumb marking one end of the Lung meridian; the index finger lies at one end of the Large Intestine meridian. Thus, today’s practice will focus on strong arm movements with the thumb and index fingers playing a significant role.
Begin with some warm-ups to release tension in the spine, shoulders, and neck, and to find your breath. On all fours, move into Cat/Cow spinal flexes for 1 minute. Then, immediately shift into Downward Dog. Stay here, eyes closed, breathing deeply for another minute.
From Down Dog, bring the knees back down, and sit back onto the heels for Baby Pose with a few deep breaths. (The forehead rests on the floor and the arms extend back on the ground toward the feet.) Then, lift the arms and the head; the torso rests on the thighs with the head in line with the spine. The arms reach back next to the legs, with the hands at hip level; turn the palms to face each other. Begin Breath of Fire; continue for 1 minute.
Next, roll up to sit on your heels; you may place a pillow between your heels and bottom. Tilt your torso forward, so that you can place your palms on the floor in front of the knees. Inhale through the nose, and deeply arch the spine forward as the head tilts up and slightly back. To exhale, round the spine backward; the head comes down, bringing the chin in toward the throat. Exhale by sticking your tongue down toward the chin, and push the air from the throat with a raspy “hah,” as if to clear your throat. Continue the flexes with breath at a steady, but rapid pace for 1 minute.
Now, sit in whatever position is most comfortable for you. Bring the hands behind the neck in Venus Lock (fingers interlaced). Keeping the elbows up and parallel to the ground, inhale to twist the upper body to the left; exhale to twist to the left. Continue for 1 minute.
Keep the hands in Venus Lock behind the neck, but switch the interlace of the fingers; it will be the “unnatural” way for you. Inhale to straighten the arms up, lengthening through the elbows; the palms turn to face up as you extend the arms. Exhale to bring the hands back down behind the neck. Continue briskly—inhale up, exhale down—for 1 minute.
Now, bring the hands in front of the chest. Once again, interlace the fingers; this time, create Venus Lock in the way that is natural, or most comfortable for you. Turn the palms to face out: Inhale as you push the arms straight forward; exhale to bring them back in, stopping a few inches away from the chest. This internal rotation of the shoulders with the palms facing forward may be challenging at first; with the vigorous movement and powerful breath, any discomfort should resolve. Continue for 1 minute.
Then, stretch the arms straight up, hugging the ears. Make fists of each hand, leaving the index finger out. With the arms overhead, turn the fists, so that the palms face forward; the extended index fingers point straight up, and touch each other side-to-side. With the eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, inhale through pursed lips to create a whistle; exhale, also in a whistle. Continue for 1 minute.
Now, bring the arms down to place the hands on the knees. Begin Sufi Grinds, rolling the torso clockwise; incorporate spinal flexions as you roll, so that the movement massages the organs of elimination. Roll and grind to the right for 1 minute, inhaling as the circle comes forward, exhale as you round the spine to circle back. Then reverse the direction, moving counter-clockwise, for 1 more minute.
Next, bring the elbows in toward the waist, upper arms resting against the rib cage. Angle the forearms out slightly, leaving 2-3 inches between them and the upper arms. Use the thumbs to hold their respective index fingers into the palms; the other fingers are straight and together. Bend at the wrist, so that the palms face up as much as possible, fingers pointing out to the sides.
With eyes closed and gazing up to the Third Eye, inhale through the nose in this starting position. Exhale slowly and deeply through a rounded mouth as you extend the arms to the sides at shoulder level; by the end of the extension, the palms should face down. Continue the movement at a steady, modest pace, inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth, for 2 minutes.
Release the arms down, and place one palm, then the other on the low belly. Breathe naturally for a few breaths here as you allow the energy to settle and stabilize your center.
For the final meditation, you will hold a different mudra on each hand. For the left hand, bring the thumb tip to touch to base of the pinky finger on the palm. Place the now-prominent base knuckle of the thumb on the Third Eye; the other fingers are together, pointing straight up. The left palm faces to the right.
The right hand holds Gyan Mudra: thumb tip connected to the tip of the index finger, other fingers relaxed. Rest the right hand on the right knee, palm down. With eyes closed, gazing at the Third Eye, begin long, deep breathing, in and out through the nose. These mudras support the eliminative and fortifying energies that you have stoked with your practice. The result is the ability to reconnect with Universal Consciousness, internally and externally, above and below.