With all that has happened in the United States over the course of the last several months, finding the discipline or motivation to engage body and mind in practice can be its own challenge. Like many (most) in this country, I am weary after months of quarantine; I also am feeling the itch of anticipation to resume a more active, purposeful daily routine.
Coupled with the eagerness to “do my Life,” however, is the recent onslaught of energy associated with necessary uprisings over racism and police brutality. The two grave and urgent situations—quarantine and protest—demand attention, be it overtly active or inwardly mindful. Yet their co-occurrence places an extraordinary demand on our energy reserves.
After a week full of distraction and strain, I remarked to my sister that in order for me to send positive, empowering energy out, I need the same within. As of yesterday, I knew what I needed: I did not, however, feel driven to do the work needed to achieve it. Today’s Silent Sunday suggests a “non-practice practice” that will help you to reconnect to your personal sense of meaning, purpose, and optimism. When you don’t exactly know what it is that you feel or need, this practice is the one. Each piece of the routine is only 30 seconds, so no deep commitment is needed.
To begin, stand tall, firmly rooted through the feet. With the arms by your sides, make strong fists of each hand; feel as if heavy weights are extending the fists, arms, and shoulders strongly toward the ground. With that powerful station, open and lift the chest toward the sky, and bend the neck slightly: With the face lifted upward, eyes open, find a spot on the ceiling and affix your gaze. Do Breath of Fire here for 30 seconds.
Then, as you inhale, sweep the arms straight up to touch the palms overhead as you bring the head back to neutral. At the top of the breath and sweep of the arms, eyes are closed: Suspend the breath for 5-10 seconds. Exhale to lower the arms down to the original fisted position. With the eyes slightly open, gaze at the tip of nose: Breath of Fire for 30 seconds.
Inhale: Sweep the arms overhead, close the eyes to gaze upward at the Third Eye. Suspend the breath for 5-10 seconds. Keep the eyes closed as you lower the arms to the standing fist pose; With eyes remaining closed and gazing at the Third Eye, engage Breath of Fire for 30 seconds. Then, take the final sweep overhead as you inhale: At the top of the breath and sweep, suspend the breath, and pump the stomach for as long as you can.
When you need to, exhale. As you breathe out slowly and deeply, move gently down into a forward bend. Stay here for a few breaths. Then, take one leg back into a lunge; the knee may on the floor, or the leg may be extended back long and straight. With eyes open, gaze at the Third Eye: Breath of Fire for 30 seconds.
Next, switch legs, and repeat the open-eyed, Third Eye gaze with Breath of Fire for 30 seconds.
Now, move into Downward Dog for a few deep breaths. Then, come down to pass through all- fours, and end sitting on your heels in Rock Pose. Rest your hands on the thights: Inhale in the upright seated position; exhale to bend forward, “bowing” the torso down toward the thighs. Aim to bring the forehead to the floor in from of the knees. Inhale to rise, exhale to lower; continue for 30 seconds.
Finally, come onto your back. Draw the knees into the chest, and extend the arms out to the sides at shoulder level. Inhale to extend the legs straight out at a 45-degree angle; exhale to draw them back in, hugging the knees with the arms. Inhale as the arms return out to the floor and the legs extend; exhale to tuck into the “hug package.” Continue for 30 seconds.
If you find that you feel energized or otherwise compelled to practice further, you may repeat the entire sequence: Either repeat 2 or 3 times with the shorter times; or, repeat once more, extending the 30-second times to 1-3 minutes. Regardless, come into Svasana for a few minutes when you feel that you have concluded your practice.
By dint of the powerful breath, and level and angle changes with the body, this routine will ferret through any confusion or lethargy that the highly stimulating and potentially enervating current societal circumstances may breed. As you move toward your personal center and instill clarity of mind, you are free to move in the direction that allows you to act and respond with utmost integrity.