A couple of days ago, a good friend answered my, “How are you?” with a slightly bewildered look, and: “I don’t know—something just feels off…” Most of us have had those days when the external environment or our personal energies don’t feel quite right: askew, lacking, an inexplicable feeling of trepidation… And for many months now, the pandemic and social upheavals seem to have created an overall, every-day ambience of off-ness.
That general socio-cultural mood is different, however, than the motivation for today’s practice. The skewed vibrations of the pandemic world that we occupy have a clear cause; the can’t-quite-put-a-finger-on-it quality of the feeling such as my friend had seems to arise out of nowhere. There may be nothing especially wrong or challenging in one’s personal realm, yet the sense of “not quite right” persists.
In order to banish off-ness and to restore inner stability and calm, I created the following practice that pairs mudras with movements and postures. This double-whammy invokes a unique synergy: When mudras are paired with moves or positions, the result yields an impenetrable fortress against any threat of dissonant vibrations that may exist within or without.
Begin standing. To establish a clear energetic field in which to practice, imagine yourself in chest-deep water: With large arm movements, imagine that you are scooping water up from the side; reach out, then down and in toward you, then thrust it up and over your shoulders. Inhale as you reach the arms out and scoop; exhale strongly through an open mouth as you jettison stagnancy or dis-ease behind you. When you breathe out, extend the tongue and create whatever sound of expulsion comes naturally. Move quickly and powerfully with this clearing move for 1 minute.
Next, still standing, extend the arms to the sides at shoulder level, palms forward. Create a fist with each hand, yet leave the middle finger pointing straight out. Begin to circle the arms backwards from the shoulder blades, i.e., the rotation emanates from the back, rather than simply from within the shoulder joint. Breathe in and out through the nose as you open and “rinse” the lungs and erase tension in the upper back. Continue for 1 minute.
Remain standing, and again reach the arms to the sides. This time, turn the palms to face down, and touch the thumb tips to the base mound of their respective pinky fingers. Then, seesaw the arms: Inhale as the left arm rises and right lowers; exhale as the right comes up and left goes down. Maintain the line of the arms, so that the diagonal they create when seesawing remains consistent. Move for 1 minute.
Now that you have cleared the auric space around you, bring yourself into a comfortable seated pose on the floor: Crossed legs are ideal, but you may also sit on your heels or even with the legs extended forward. On each hand, touch the thumb tip to the inside, base edge of the ring finger; the thumb is thus in the webbing between the middle and ring fingers, with pressure against the ring finger. Holding this detoxifying mudra pinky-side down on the knees, begin Sufi Grinds: Inhale as you circle the torso forward; exhale as you round and circle into the back space. Move slowly at first, and then pick up the pace as the spine and hips warm up. Circle to the right for 1 minute, and then reverse, moving counter-clockwise for another minute.
Next, lengthen the legs out in front of you for a yin-style forward bend. In this variation, feel free to round the spine; create a relaxed, relaxing posture that will garner the results of a deep forward bend, by dint of time and gravity. Let your head hang naturally, and use whatever supports you need; you will inhabit this position for 3 minutes. To further a profound sense of calm and rootedness, create Rudra Mudra: The thumb tip of each hand touches the index fingertip and ring fingertip: With mudra intact, slide the hands under the knees. Descend into the mudra-activated pose for the full 3 minutes.
Before you enter the next posture, grab a pillow, block, or rolled blanket: Place it behind your hips, and then roll down over it. The bolster should ease the lower spine into a gentle lift and opening, i.e., a very modified back bend. Lie quietly, letting the bolster nurture the opening of your front body. With the arms at ease on the floor by your sides, create Pran Mudra to fortify vitality and to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain: thumb tips cover and press the nails of the ring and pinky fingers on each hand. Turn the palms to face up, and breathe deeply for 2 minutes.
Now, remove the bolster, and turn on to the belly. Aim to rest the forehead on the floor, so that light pressure falls onto the Third Eye; your facial structure will dictate the feasibility of this position. Regardless, gaze through closed eyes up to the Third Eye. Then, bring both hands to rest on the lower back, palms up, with Gyan Mudra: thumb tip to index fingertip on each hand. Remain here, breathing deeply, for 3 minutes.
Finally, press back into Baby Pose. As this posture will serve as Svasana for today’s practice, use any pillows or blankets you may need to support the knees and hips. Then, bring the hands underneath the forehead: Make fists of each hand, and stack them one over the other; the top fist should connect with the space between the brow points, thus stimulating the Third Eye. Rest here for 3-5 minutes, consolidating the flow of energy from your practice.