As discussed in previous posts, a great way to release remnants of old emotions or mental obstacles is to clear the aura. Most often, this is done through a series of expansive, vigorous arm movements. Today’s practice infuses the same powerful, intentional energy into a series of “jumps”: However, as one who must be mindful of imparting high-impact movement into my hips, I have instead created a practice that employs challenging, unusual movements to lift and pulsate the entire body.
The following routine is a great way to kick the body and mind into high gear; if you feel sluggish or hampered by an overload of concerns, this Silent Sunday provides a sure-fire solution. The moves encourage the body to move in atypical ways, thus requiring focus: The mind becomes immune to distraction, as the movements demand the creation of new neurological response.
Because you will be bouncing and shifting the body against the ground, I recommend a double dose of padding for your practice space. For example, add a folded blanket on top of the carpet; or, top a yoga mat with a thick blanket. Create enough support, so that you can fully engage with the movements; the more energy that you can infuse into the moves, the greater the results.
To warm up the body and engage the mind, the practice opens with a mini vinyasa. Then, a moving pranayama exercise with sounding sheds emotional debris, with an emphasis on dispelling anger.
First, come onto all fours for a few rounds of traditional Cat/Cow; find the breath, deepen it, and begin to free the entire back and neck as you flex and extend the spine. Then, come to neutral: Inhale as you reach the right arm forward, bringing it in line with the shoulder; simultaneously, extend the left leg back and up, to hip level.
As you exhale, bend the left knee, and reach the right hand back to grasp the left foot or ankle. Inhale to arch the spine into extension while lifting the left foot and opening the chest. Exhale again to release the arm and leg back into the long cross-body line (right arm and left leg extended forward and back, respectively, at the level of the torso); inhale to place the right hand and left knee down, resurrecting the initial all-fours position. Finish the sequence with an exhale as you deeply round the spine into a Cat dome.
Repeat the entire sequence, this time starting with an inhale as the left arm and right leg extend forward and back, stretching away from each other at shoulder and hip height. Continue the breath paired with movement, all the way through to the final exhale accompanied by Cat. Complete the sequence 5 times on each side.
If you like, shift into Baby Pose for a few deep breaths when you have finished the warm-up movements. Then, configure Frog Pose for the moving pranayama: Sit in a deep squat, bringing the heels together, feet and knees turned out. Rise onto the balls of the feet; place the hands in front, between the open legs, keeping the arms fully extended. Inhale: Lift the hips up as the head and torso tip forward and down, maintaining a long line through the spine and neck. Exhale to lower the hips as the torso and head shift back to the original upright position. Each inhale emerges as a guttural snore through the open mouth; each exhale sounds as a fierce growl or “hah!” from the back of the throat, out through the open mouth with fully extended tongue. Continue the sounded inhale and exhale, respectively, with hips up/head and torso tipped into forward bend; and hips down to lifted heels, head and torso perched upright, for 2 minutes.
Now, return to all fours. Extend the spine into a modest Cow position (i.e., arch the back slightly, as the chest opens and pelvis tips forward, pointing the tail up). Intense focus is required here: Keep the torso as still as possible, while quickly bringing the hands away from the floor to clap. Expect that you will have to “rehearse” for up to minute before you find the way to stabilize the torso while clapping quickly.
Once your mind and body (i.e., core muscles) have managed to master the move, try another minute each of the following two variations: First, instead of clapping, bring both hands—one over the other—to touch the heart. An extra dose of focus is needed , should you choose to alternate which hand is on top with each Heart Touch.
The second variation entails crossing the arms across the chest to bring each hand to its opposite shoulder. Again, you may further fire up the brain by switching the cross of the arms each time. As with the initial clapping and Heart Touch variation, continue for 1 minute.
From all fours, shift back into squat for another Frog-style movement. This pose, however, brings the heels about hip width apart, with knees and toes slightly turned out: The arms reach through the legs, palms flat or on fingertips. Now, hop like a frog! Again, it may take a minute or more for the body to understand how to engage all of the involved muscles simultaneously. If necessary, divide the move in half: “jump” the upper body up, while remaining rooted in Frog Squat; then, support the body with the arms as you jump the lower half of the body up. Finally, join the two halves for 12 full Frog Jumps.
Next, come onto the back. Hug your body into a tight ball, and begin to jump and bounce like a jumping bean. Be aware of the tendency to roll, rather than to elevate the tight ball of the body into the air. This is a decided challenge: If approached with an attitude of playful experimentation, the mind is more likely to connect with its intention, and the jumping ball will manifest. Continue your efforts for 3 minutes.
Now, extend and stretch the body in any way you need to for a few deep breaths. Then, bending the knees, draw the heels in close to the buttocks, as if preparing for Bridge Pose. Keeping the arms on the ground, palms down, raise the torso away from the floor. This is not an incremental roll up the spine; rather, it is a lift of the torso as one unit. Think of leading with the front of the pelvis; lift the hips strongly and quickly, as if you were trying to jettison something perched on the pelvis. Inhale with this sharp movement up; exhale to lower the body back to the floor. Repeat the powerful lift and tempered lowering of the torso 26 times.
Finally, extend the legs out for Svasana, arms resting several inches away from the body, palms up. Legs and heels are about 18 inches apart; allow the feet to roll in our out, whatever comes naturally. Consciously follow the long, smooth flow of the inhale and deep, serene exhale for a few rounds of breath. Then, allow yourself to ease into the calm and peace of rest for as long as you like.