Special note: This Silent Sunday practice will be available tomorrow (Monday, June 6, 2022) in its audio version. If you would like to follow along in “real time,” visit: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson.
Today’s Silent Sunday offers a chance to “get it together.” Often, after a period of high stress or activity—or, conversely, too little stimulation—the body and mind can feel off-kilter: wayward energies, sluggish or tense muscles, distracted or low concentration. At such times, a rebuilding is necessary.
The following practice will reorganize and reconnect physical and mental energies, leaving you feeling strong and centered, with a renewed ability to concentrate.
Each of the 5 “halfsie” sequences will be followed by the movement or posture in full. In this way, the body will be reminded of its inherent tendency toward balance, while the mind will integrate the fortifying results of its intense concentration.
Begin standing. Very simply, do shoulder circles on the left side only. Move slowly and purposefully: Inhale to lift the shoulder up and open it back; exhale slowly to draw the shoulder down, under, and forward. Do 5 circles backward, then reverse to 5 forward circles.
Reminder: To move the circle forward, inhale to lift the shoulder and push it forward; exhale to move it down, back, and up.
Repeat with the right shoulder, still moving the shoulder through its discernible range of motion. Again, complete 5 backward and 5 forward circles.
Close the sequence with simultaneous circles of both shoulders, 3 back and 3 forward.
Still standing, inhale to raise the left knee up toward the body, holding the lower leg or ankle (hip/hamstring release). Exhale to bend the right knee, so that you sink into a half-squat.
Inhale up, and “swing” the left leg back, drawing the heel toward the left buttock (quad stretch). Again, exhale into the squat.
This is one set: 2 squats, first with the hamstring stretch, then with the thigh stretch.
Repeat 4 more times for a total of 5 sets on the right standing leg.
Then, shift the sequence to the other side: balance and squat on the left, with the right leg alternating between hip and quad stretch. Again, do a total of 5 sets on the left.
When you have finished, stand with feet hip width apart. Squat as deeply and fluidly as you can 3 times. On the final squat, stay down with knees bent, and let the body come forward and down into a modified Standing Forward Bend. Hang, and shake loose any residual tension for a few deep breaths.
Now, help yourself down onto all fours. Here, beginning from neutral, inhale into Cow: Arch the spine deeply, lifting the tail and looking forward. Exhale to return only to neutral. Repeat 5 more times for a total of 6 Cow spinal extensions.
After the sixth Cow, exhale all the way into Cat: Pass through neutral to deeply round, or flex, the spine. Let the head hang and the tail curl down. Inhale to neutral, exhale into Cat. Repeat for a total of 6 Cat spinal flexions.
Complete the sequence with 3 full Cat/Cow movements: Inhale to arch into Cow, exhale to round into Cat.
Next, lower yourself onto the belly. Bend both legs and reach back to hold the ankles. Inhale to raise only the upper body away from the floor; exhale to lower. Repeat 4 more times.
Then, move to the lower half: Inhale to raise the legs; exhale to lower. Repeat 4 more times.
To complete this sequence, find Full Bow. Inhale to raise the upper body; stay up as you exhale to lift the lower body to join the upper. Remain fully lifted as you take 5 full breaths in the posture. Then release, and shift back into Baby Pose for a few breaths.
From Baby Pose, slowly sit up, and help yourself onto your back. Extend both legs into the air.
Keep the right leg straight up. Inhale, then exhale to lower the straight left leg at least halfway down, more if you feel strong. Continue the exhale as you retract the left knee in toward the body.
Inhale to straighten the left leg back up to its original position. Exhale to lower it down and draw the knee in.
After 6 repetitions of the move, reverse the flow. From the starting point of both legs straight up, inhale bend the left knee down toward the body; exhale to straighten it out several inches above the ground and back up to the start. Repeat 5 more times for a total of 6.
This is Half-Water Wheel, left side. After completing 6 repetitions in both directions, switch to the right side. The left leg will remain straight in the air as the right leg moves. Again, do 6 in each direction.
When you have finished, let both legs extend straight up. Do Full Water Wheel—both legs moving as one: First, inhale, then exhale to lower both legs and draw the knees in. Inhale to straighten them back up; exhale to lower and retract the knees; and so forth. Complete 3 in this direction, then reverse the trajectory for another 3 repetitions.
To close this portion of the practice, do simple reclining twist. On your back. both legs long on the floor, inhale to draw the right knee in; exhale to move it across the body toward the floor on the left side. Feel free to use the left hand to guide the knee.
Inhale back through center: Exhale to release the right leg. Inhale to draw the left knee in; exhale to guide it over to the right. Inhale to center; exhale to release.
Repeat 2 more times, for a total of 3 twists to each side.
Now, help yourself into your preferred position for meditation. Bring both hands to hover in front of the Heart Center, palms facing each other, but slightly apart, not touching.
Inhale deeply to slowly, effortlessly float the hands apart about 6-10 inches. Exhale to slowly return them to center. Breathe and move in this soft way for 1 minute.
Finally, connect hands in Prayer Mudra, and rest the thumb sides of the hands directly on the Heart Center. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, breathe naturally. Allow the bolstering, balancing energies that you have created integrate into the mind and body. Remain here for as long as you like.