This Silent Sunday offers a complete release of physical and mental tension. From a gentle opening, to a freeing unwinding, the routine provides a path to ease and openness. Starting tomorrow, you will be able to follow along to the audio version at: anchor.com/ellen-sanders-robinson.
Begin on the belly. With the head resting on its right side, arms relaxed by the sides, simply breathe in and out through the nose: Rest easy, as if a nap were in the offing. After about 1 minute, turn the head to rest on the other side. Continue natural, yet conscious breathing.
As you rest and breathe, notice how the body begins to yield. Often, tension can become ingrained, so that one does not notice its presence. To allow a few minutes of resting with awareness can signal the body to release. You may experience the sensation in different ways—dropping, opening, or as if the muscles themselves take a breath.
After this preliminary rest period, turn the head to place the forehead on the floor. Beginning with the right hand, feel as if someone is tugging the wrist toward the foot: Allow the head to roll slightly in response. Tug and release 5-8 times, then switch to the left side for another round of “tug and roll.”
Now, bring the hands to the floor near the shoulders, a bit wider than shoulder-width. Lift the head slightly: Press down into one palm and then the other, which will cause a rolling see-saw through the upper body. Again, let the head respond naturally. Continue for 30-60 seconds.
Then, shift yourself back into a variation of Baby Pose. Just before the hips settle onto the heels, thread the forearms through the legs, and create Prayer Mudra between the knees. The weight of the thighs and hips now rests on the forearms; forehead rests on the floor. Breathe deeply, in and out through the nose, for about 1 minute.
Next, release the arms. Interlace the fingers behind the back, and stretch the arms straight. Inhale to lift the hips as you roll onto he crown of the head, moving the arms up and away from the back as far a possible; exhale to settle back down. Repeat this “moving Yoga Mudra” 8-12 times, finishing in Baby Pose for a few deep breaths.
Now, help yourself onto all fours. Raise the left foot up a bit, and begin to swing the left lower leg from side to side, like a windshield wiper: The left knee remains rooted, and the left foot floats over the right foot when it swings right.
After a few repetitions, bring the torso into the mix: As the leg swings left, laterally bend the spine to the left, into a backward C shape. The head remains neutral, face toward floor. When the lower leg swings right, bend the spine to the right, creating a C-curve. Repeat 8 times.
Shift the movement to the right lower leg. Swing it on its own a few times, then add the lateral bends of the torso. Again, repeat 8 times.
Finally, repeat the lower-leg swings with accompanying spinal bends. This time, however, turn the head to look at the foot each time the body bends and the foot swings. Repeat another 8 times, then switch sides to complete the sequence.
Special note: The above all-fours pattern is an unusual way to unlock tension in the hips, lower back, shoulders, and neck. When you can not pinpoint the source of physical tension, this quick sequence can offer insight and release.
Next, take a few rounds of traditional Cat/Cow spinal flexes to center the body.
Then, from all fours, shift up to “stand” on the knees. Inhale into a subtle back bend, looking up slightly, as you open the arms into a wide V overhead. Exhale to lower down: bottom almost to heels, forehead to floor, with the arms sweeping back by the feet. Immediately inhale to rise and open, arms in the V; exhale to sweep back down into near-Baby Pose. Inhale up, exhale down: Continue for 1 minute, or about 15 repetitions.
Now, briefly press back into an Downward Dog for a few transitional breaths: shake the head, wag the hips, pedal the feet up and down.
Then, walk the feet in toward the hands. Let he knees bend and the arms and head hang freely. Take 3-5 full, slow breaths through the nose.
After a few deep breaths in the forward bend, slowly roll up to stand. With the eyes closed and hands on the waist, breathe in through the nose; exhale through the lips, sounding, “Shhhh.” Repeat 6-10 times.
Next, bend the arms, so that the hands are in front of the shoulders, palms forward, elbows into the waist. Inhale through the nose: As you exhale through the mouth, bend the knees into a deep squat; drop the head and round the spine as you push the hands forward, straightening the arms. Inhale to stand up straight, hands pull back in.
Exhale again, this time extending the tongue down through the open mouth for a profound detox breath: As you breathe out, squat, deeply arch the spine, and look up as the hands push straight up. Inhale back to standing, hands in front of shoulders.
Exhale—“whooo”— to squat and round the spine, hands pushing forward; inhale to stand in neutral; exhale—tongue out and down—to squat and arch, hands pushing upward.
Continue in this manner, completing 12 sets. Now, stand again with the hands on the waist, eyes closed. Repeat the initial breath: in through the nose, exhaling as you sound, “Shhh.” Repeat 3-5 times.
Then, begin to infuse your body with the vibration of a spiral movement. To move in this way reminds us that all is ephemeral, fluid, and cyclical: Engage at each level, abide each experience, allow things to progress.
First, begin slow, small head circles to the right. After a few revolutions, ease the circles into the rib cage. Do a bit of rib circling, and then seamlessly transition into pelvic circles, or very contained hip circles.
Without stopping, begin to reverse the flow: Spiral upwards, from circling the hips, through the torso and ribs, and finally, into the gentle head circles.
Then, repeat the spiral to the left, circling counter-clockwise: top to bottom, and bottom-up.
Repeat the spiraling for 3 more rounds, and feel free to improvise: For example, you may circle your way down, moving clockwise; and then return up, circling to the left. Or, If any section of the spiral move feels sticky—or particularly good—pause to isolate that region, focusing sensory awareness on that area. Explore the movement cycle in any way you like.
To close, repeat the standing “Shhh” breath with eyes closed and hands on hips. Then, help yourself into your preferred seated pose for meditation, on the floor or in a chair.
With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, extend the arms in front of you at shoulder level. The left palm is up, and the right is turned down. Use this position to once again adjust your energies to a natural rhythm of the Universe, that of giving and receiving: The right side offers, while the left receives. When in tune with eternal vibrations, one flows—tension moves through and out.
After about 3 minutes of sitting with the above arm position, draw the hands in to softly cover the closed eyes and face. Consciously relax eyelids, tongue, jaw, shoulders: Breathe here for about a minute. Then, release the hands, and make your way into Svasana for as long as you like.