Silent Sundays: Express Ticket (Plus Audio!)

On this Silent Sunday, I won’t be. (Silent, that is…)

To forsake a dedicated ritual for even one day is a little disorienting. It does, however, offer the opportunity to practice the aim of the Silent Sunday discipline: Let no earthly distraction detract from awareness of and connection to the divine realm.

Because this disruption of silence includes a busy morning (housecleaning, dog-walking, airport pick-up), I created a quick, yet comprehensive practice to open, then steady and pacify the inner sanctum. In less than 10 minutes of movement and focused breath meditation, you will be prepared to greet the day.

Perhaps best of all? Because I am not in silence on this day, I recorded the audio version of today’s routine. To practice along, head to: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

The Moves 

Tuck Balance

Stretch Balance

Wide-Leg Release: Alternating stretch, Sufi’s Grind

Spinal Flow in Bridge

Inverted Butt Kicks

Reclining Twist

The Peace

8-Breath Meditation

Intuited Yoni Mudra

Silent Sundays: Spring Into Summer

On this first day of May, one feels the revitalization that sprouts with tiny croci, early-morning bird calls, and warming rays of sunshine. The sky adjusts its blue to one of permeating vibrancy and hopefulness; the clouds bear no ill will.

While this Silent Sunday resounds with the uplifting notes of Springtime, the day also marks a key time for thoughts of Summer. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the prime period to help the body and psycho-spiritual mind prepare for any season is roughly six weeks prior to the advent of that season.

Today’s practice will introduce the Fire element (that which is associated with Summer), while using Spring’s element, Wood, as a foundation. As one would lay kindling for a warming blaze, the routine helps to stoke the systems necessary to optimally enjoy Spring’s energy and seamlessly transition into Summer’s late-June entry.

Special note: For a fun challenge—and to reap the greatest benefit from this upbeat routine—practice every day from today until June 21. The commitment: 7 moves and a simple breath visualization for a total of 10 minutes, each day for six weeks.

First, a quick primer on the Wood and Fire elements: Wood is comprised of the Liver and Gall Bladder organ systems; Fire corresponds with Stomach and Heart energies. From an anatomical standpoint, Wood relates primarily to the inner and outer “seams” of the body. (Think side walls and inner thigh stretches.) Fire meridians run through the arms and front of the torso: Remember the phrase, “fire in the belly.”

With regard to the qualities associated with each element, Wood systems—just like Nature’s activity in Spring—awaken, refresh, and remind the body and mind of possibility. The Fire organs energize and supply the confidence to pursue and achieve goals. As such, Spring’s transitional time is conducive to purposeful contemplation and preparation; Summertime is ripe for activation and manifestation.

While each movement in today’s practice is designed to stimulate either the Wood or Fire element, maintain an awareness of the “unworked” system while focusing on one. For example, when imparting focused energy on the arms, stay attuned to the inherent reverberation through the belly, or the shifting through the legs. In this way, the practice succeeds in uniting the two elements for the greatest all-over benefit.

To begin, lie on the back, eyes closed, for a brief, centering visualization. With your mind’s eye, focus on the left pinky finger. Start your travels at the inner-side tip of the pinky: Inhale to draw the breath up the inside of the arm to just inside the shoulder on the chest. Exhale to the opposite side of the chest, and down the inner right arm to the inner-side tip of the right pinky.

Now, reverse the visualization: Inhale to begin at the right pinky, up the arm to the chest, and then down from the chest through the left arm, ending at the inner edge of the left pinky tip.

Repeat the breath with visualization—up left, down right; up right, down left—two more times.

Next, hug both knees into the torso. Inhale to open the arms onto the floor at shoulder level, as the legs shoot straight out to 45 degrees. Exhale to bring the arms and legs back into the hug. Inhale open, exhale close: Continue for 1 minute.

Still on the back, extend both legs straight into the air, and then let them fall open into a V shape. (The arms rest naturally on the ground by your sides.) Inhale: As you exhale through the nose, bring the legs back together, crossing them at the ankles; inhale to open into the V. Move as quickly as possible, switching the cross of the ankles each time you exhale. Continue for 1 minute.

Then, bend the knees to place the feet flat on the floor in preparation for Bridge Pose. Roll the spine off of the floor into Bridge: interlace the hands under the body, and stretch the arms straight. Press down into the feet, up through the hips, and open the belly as high to the sky as you can muster. Begin Breath of Fire through open, rounded lips. Breathe rapidly, equally, and fiercely through the mouth: The belly should pump powerfully with the breath. Continue for 1 minute.

Now, sit up. Extend the legs forward, and then open into a V on the floor. Extend the arms up and out from the shoulders at an angle of 60 degrees, palms facing each other. Curl the pinky fingers into the palms; hold them down with the thumb.

Begin to twist the torso left and right: Inhale to twist left, exhale to the right. Rise up and out of the spine, stabilizing through the wide-leg base. As the body releases, move a bit more quickly: Inhale left, exhale right for 1 minute.

Release the mudra from the hands, and let the left arm come down. Shift the right arm to extend it now straight up from the shoulder. Inhale, then exhale as you side-bend to the left: Inhale up, exhale stretch. (Use the left hand on the floor for support.)

Complete 8 stretches to the left, and then switch arms: With the left arm extended straight up, side-bend to the right 8 times.

When you are ready, ease back down onto the floor, and turn onto the belly. Let the legs be open wide behind you. Reach the arms forward on the ground, wider than shoulder width. This is the base of the “open Cobra” into which you will rise. 

Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the wide-open mouth, tongue extended down, to press up into the wide-leg, wide-arm Cobra. Inhale through the nose to lower, exhale through the mouth when you press up. Move as quickly as you can, aiming to create a pumping up and down of the upper body. Continue this stimulating, cleansing move for 1 minute.

Next, still on the belly, reach the hands back to grasp the feet (or ankles): Hold what you can; lift into Bow. Float the knees up and away from the floor, and rise up through the torso.

Now, begin to rock forward and back on the belly. This may be initially confounding for the body: Typically, it helps to inhale back, exhale forward. Muscle your way into the move, and then let breath and momentum carry you into the Rocking Bow for 1 minute.

When you have finished, shift back into wide-leg Baby Pose, toes together, knees apart. Let the arms stretch forward, palms down. Here, take some deep breaths while repeating the Heart meridian visualization: Inhale the mind’s eye from left pinky up the inner left arm, into the outer chest; exhale from right outer chest, down right inner arm, to inner edge of right pinky tip. Repeat up the right, down the left, and then one more full round.

 Then, release into Svasana on your back for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Not Staying Silent (About Constipation!) 

While the inability to eliminate may seem an unusual topic for Silent Sunday, the causes and consequences of constipation inarguably affect one’s physical and psycho-spiritual health. At some point, most of us have had to reckon with sluggish—or completely halted—digestion. I decided to address this issue when a friend informed me that she is currently “backed up.” She is a forthright woman: It is no surprise that she announced her condition as if she had stubbed her toe.

Her plight reminded me of several situations when others I know have had to wrangle with constipation. One instance involved a former boyfriend. He let his predicament go unattended for more than a week; one day, I came home to find him curled up on the floor in pain. He was so loathe to discuss “bind” that he became quite ill. Fortunately, a trip to the doctor and a simple prescription quickly helped him.

But why the embarrassment over a bodily function gone wrong? A stomach ache or intestinal flu is readily discussed; on the other hand, the act or product of elimination is a hush-hush subject. My sense is that when discomfort is imparted upon us—the force of impact or the invasion of bacteria—we do not feel responsible for the problem. But when the process of elimination goes awry, we wonder what we did wrong: dietary choices, activity levels, stress management, etc.

The digestive system is sensitive, though: Tied directly and powerfully to the nervous system, the organs connected to digestion and elimination pick up quickly on emotional changes. The systems respond well to calm and consistency; they do not abide upheaval.

And here I can add personal experience.

After our mother died a couple of months ago, my sister and I compared notes about our emotions. Less discussed was the physical impact: Perhaps we mentioned fatigue or fogginess, but little else. Then, one day, a couple of weeks after the passing, my sister commented that she was constipated. For her, the state is a common response to stress: travel, emotional upset, small shifts in dietary routine—they all tend to manifest in constipation.

I remember thinking in the moment how grateful I was for a gut that seemed to flow consistently, despite shifts in circumstance. I should have knocked on some wood: Within three days, my bowels staged a firm, unbudging protest to the deep-seated emotions that had been stirred.

It may be helpful to momentarily contemplate words related to “elimination.” When the stress of physical or emotional imbalance accumulates, we can not “process,” “digest,” or “let go.” There is little stigma surrounding a sense of feeling stuck personally or professionally; nor should there be any hesitation to address physical impediments.

What is required for the elimination of both bodily and mental waste is a concerted, yet tempered effort. The following suggestions and accompanying routine are exactly what I did to help my body resume its eliminative function.

Special note: Certainly, there are potentially serious conditions of which constipation is a symptom. The thoughts and suggestions here concern situational constipation: brief periods of irregularity that can be remedied with a little time, attention, and technique.

First, a quick nod to some simple and accessible aids in the process: Many teas, for example, purport to have qualities beneficial to digestion and elimination. I drink both ginger and fennel every day; others swear by simple lemon juice in warm water. (It may well be that the warmth of the concoction is as helpful as the main ingredient.) Further, dehydration is the nemesis of all the body’s systems: sluggish digestion and hampered elimination need plenty of simple fluids (especially water).

Also, certain foods can help the process along: Prunes are a typical—and potent—choice. Whatever easily digested fiber food you choose, start sparingly; give it some time, see how the body responds, and then choose further portions accordingly.

And now, we arrive at The Routine. There are numerous physical approaches that will help you address a bout of constipation; the same techniques and movements will help to keep you regular in the future. 

First, find a small ball: a tennis ball will do. (If you do not have a ball, try a soup can or water bottle.) Place the roller (ball or otherwise) under your left arch: Lightly begin to roll the foot back and forth on the ball. Move up and down through the mid-foot; then, begin to roll down toward the heel. Ultimately, roll from just underneath the toes, through the width of the arch, and all the way to the heel.

Roll out the left foot for about 2 minutes; then, switch to the right foot. Localize the roll first in the arch; then, down through the heel; and finally, ball of foot, through arch to heel. Again, continue for 2 minutes.

This technique is rooted in reflexology. As the foot houses acupressure points that correspond to the entire body (where the toes roughly align with the head; the mid-foot comprises the vital organs; and the heel contains the hips and adjacent organs), the ball-roll triggers the body to relax, as if it were having a traditional massage.

When giving an actual massage to assuage digestive issues, one would gently but purposefully stroke down the left side of the belly first: i.e., begin to unlock the end portion of the intestine. Once that area is free, the “earlier” parts of the system are addressed. Think of plumbing: The deepest part of the block needs to be addressed first; to dislodge the upper obstruction is pointless, unless there is a place for the blockage to be released.

Thus, left foot first; then the right.

After the foot-roll, spend a few minutes manually applying firm pressure throughout the mid- right foot. (Both sides have been relaxed and released by the ball-roll: Now, the idea is to remind the body of its natural direction of digestive flow—right to left.) Press with the thumb tip or a knuckle: Move along and around the arch, then down into the heel mound. Focus extra attention on any hard or tender areas. 

Continue for 1 minute. Then, switch to the left foot for 1 more minute.

Now, lie down on the belly. Make soft fists of each hand, and slide them to either side of the low belly, near or under the hip bones. Simply lie on the hands, breathing deeply through the nose, for 1 minute.

Then, press back into Baby Pose. If you like, take a couple of relaxing breaths before rising to sit on the heels.

Feel free to place a pillow between the bottom and feet for comfort. This Rock Pose is inherently beneficial to digestion. Today, add another profound technique: As you are seated, begin to lightly pummel all around the buttocks and hips with soft fists. Move rapidly and intentionally, pounding assertively, yet kindly through the area. Continue for 1-2 minutes.

Next, extend the legs straight forward, or assume a crossed-leg position. Begin Sufi Grinds. This kundalini yoga movement is one of the best exercises I know to signal both the body and mind of the need to release: The move helps to eliminate detritus of all kinds.

Circle the torso first to the right: Let the body undulate with the movement. Circle fully and deeply clockwise for 1 minute; then, reverse directions, circling to the left for another minute.

Finally, come into your favorite seated position, either on the floor or in a chair. With the thumb of the left hand, begin to massage firmly the fleshy mound and adjacent “triangle” between the right thumb and forefinger. Chances are that the area will be quite tender: Apply enough pressure to address the tension. These knots of constriction and discomfort tell the story of your constipation: When all is flowing smoothly, the area will be soft and at ease.

Spend as long as you like on the right hand (usually about 2 minutes); then, switch to the left hand.

After you have massaged both hands, hold them aloft. Inhale deeply: Suspend the breath as you shake the hands vigorously. When you need to exhale, float the arms back down. Repeat 2 more times: Inhale to raise the arms and shake the hands; exhale to lower.

Now, sit quietly, eyes closed, gazing to the Third Eye. Breathe slowly and deeply enough through the nose that you feel the belly expand and release upon inhale and exhale. Rest the hands on the thighs, palms down. Relax the tongue completely: Let it float easily in the mouth. Simply sit and breathe, knowing that you have begun the process of elimination. 

Repeat any or all of the above steps as needed. Eventually, you may consider including those to which your body responds most readily as part of your daily routine.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: That Which Is Meant For You…

In contemplating a topic for this Silent Sunday, I found myself in a position I often assume when summoning clarity or direction. (This is the body mudra that will accompany the closing meditation of the following practice.) As I began to be conscious of how my hands and inner gaze were affixed, two words came to mind: “intuition” and “yoke.”

The correlation between the two eluded me briefly: To associate what connotes to me a freeing, elucidating state of mind (intuition) with a physical harness (yoke) seemed oxymoronic. But then I recalled yesterday’s conversation with a friend.

She and I were discussing the idea of aligning our choices with that which is truly intended for us during our earthly existence. We have touched on this topic in the past, as both of us—and most of all of us—have had the occasion to question decisions, motives, goals, etc. How does one know when a chosen path is the way forward? For my friend and me, Knowing is visceral: Our bodies convey a physical sensation when thought yields to intuited deference to that which is divinely decreed.

And that is the Yoke of today’s practice: not a mechanism of restraint or attachment to another’s aim or function, but an alliance born of Faith. When the Third Eye—Sixth Chakra, seat of intuition—is clear and receptive, the ability to yoke to divine Truth awakens.

The practice begins with a series of four movements designed to shift energy from the Lower Triangle of chakras to the Upper. Not only does this approach ultimately drive power to the Third Eye, it loosens and ejects stagnant or detrimental energies that may inhibit the flow of intuition.

First, sit on the floor with the legs extended straight forward: Feel free to perch on a bolster if this position is challenging. Extend the arms far enough down the thigh, so that the elbows are long. Slide the hands under the thighs to establish an anchoring hold. 

Begin spinal flexes: Inhale to push the chest and belly forward as the shoulders pull back; let the pelvis tip forward. Exhale to push into the back, curving the spine, and rocking the pelvis back.

Continue: Inhale to arch (or extend); exhale to round (flex). Breathe deeply with the movement for 1 minute.

Then, legs remaining long on the floor, place the hands by the hips. With flat palms or fisted hands, press down to lift the legs and bottom off of the floor; abruptly drop the body down. Inhale to lift; exhale to drop. Complete 16 Body Drops.

Be aware of your aim: to clear and move energy up to the Third Eye. The stimulation of the spine, along with slight shock of the Body Drops is shifting the energy upward.

To further motivate the vibrational ascension, come onto the back. If possible, move into Shoulder Stand. If this posture is not accessible for you, slide a pillow under the hips to gently elevate. Regardless, begin to kick the bottom, alternating sides with each kick. Exhale upon each rapid kick. Move as quickly and assertively as possible; again, remember that the move encourages the ousting of stagnancy and the energetic shift to the Third Eye. Continue to kick in the inverted position for 1 minute.

Now, roll onto the belly. Place the forehead on the floor, so that you can specifically sense the contact of the Third Eye—above the nose bridge, between the brows—with the ground. Should your facial structure limit your ability to feel the Third Eye against the floor, accentuate your closed eye focus to the area.

Then, bend the knees, and reach back to hold the feet or ankles. Raise the legs as if coming into Bow; however, keep the head and torso down. This is Half-Bow. With an intense closed-eye focus on the Third Eye, breathe deeply in and out through the nose for 3 minutes. If necessary, release the Half-Bow briefly, maintain breath and focus, and then resume the posture to complete the 3 minutes.

When you are ready, shift back into Baby Pose to ease the back muscles. Stay attuned to the Third Eye; at this point, your entire focus is on the seat of intuition.

Now, come into your preferred seated position. Bring the hands into Prayer Pose in front of the face. The forearms are stitched together, with the elbows at about the level of the Heart Center. Bring the base knuckles of the thumbs to rest on the Third Eye: The structure of your hands will allow them to nestle into the area in the position that is right for you.

Begin a breath with visualization. As you inhale through the nose, draw the breath up through the spinal corridor from Heart to Third Eye. As you exhale, press the tongue firmly up into the roof of the mouth: Expand intuitive energy from the Third Eye through the Crown Chakra. 

Inhale from Heart to Third Eye: exhale to further yoke intuition with Universal Wisdom.

Continue for 5-7 minutes. Then, ease into Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Slow Start, Strong Finish

On this Silent Sunday, I am dog sitting in the country. After an invigorating visit from a friend yesterday (which included plenty of chatter and a sun-filled hike around the property), this morning ushered in a decidedly different vibration.

Along with an enveloping stillness has arrived unexpected snow, swirling quickly through cold, gray air. On a morning like this, the requisite dog walk requires an inner pep talk, as well as a warming wake-up for the body.

Thus, today’s practice will serve you well on those days when you must fulfill commitments, but would rather stay ensconced in quietude. After a slow, gentle start that becomes progressively energizing, you will close with pranayama and a mudra to thoroughly consolidate the physical and mental rejuvenation.

To begin, lie on your back. Place the feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees bent. The arms rest on either side of the body, palms up. As you inhale, let the back arch softly off of the floor; simultaneously, the shoulders rotate open, expanding the chest.  The head will move in natural response. Let the knees fall open; you will notice that the feet roll to their outer edges.

Upon the exhale, “close in”: The back tries to round, pushing into the floor, as the shoulders internally rotate and the chin tips. The knees fall inward, perhaps even touching each other, and the feet, too, roll to their inner edges. 

Move back and forth between “opening” and “closing”: Inhale to arch and open; exhale to roll yourself inward. Complete 12 rounds.

Then, with the back neutral and the arms at rest, begin to sway the knees from side to side. Move back and forth at a steady space, breathing deeply. Inhale when the knees pass through center; exhale as they drop to either side.

Bring the Knee Drops to a close. Take a deep breath in; exhale to roll up into Bridge. Inhale to lift the right foot off the floor, and extend the leg straight up. Exhale to lower the straight right leg to the level of the left thigh. Inhale the leg back up; exhale to lower. Complete12 leg lifts.

Then, switch sides. If you need to roll down out of the bridge to rest for a moment, do so. When you are ready, return to Bridge. Inhale to extend the left leg straight up. Exhale to lower the leg to the level of the right thigh; inhale to lift: again, 12 repetitions.

Slowly roll down out of the Bridge, and draw both knees in to the body. Lift the head, as if to bring the nose between the knees. Hug yourself into a tight ball, and begin Breath of Fire (equal, rapid inhales and exhales through the nose): Continue for 30-60 seconds.

Now, bring yourself onto the belly, legs long, forehead on the floor. Rest the arms by the sides, palms down. Here, inhale to lift the mid-body (ribs, belly, thighs) off of the floor; exhale to drop it back down. Inhale up, exhale down: Move at a quick pace. These Body Drops are highly stimulating, and will also help to break up and release stagnant energy. Complete 16 Drops.

Next, press up onto all fours. Do a few traditional Cat/Cow spinal movements (inhale to arch; exhale to round), and then allow yourself to move the body in any way that feels good. Feel free to shift forward and back; circle or undulate; change levels by bending the elbows or lifting the knees off of the floor. Continue this freeing, flowing movement for 30-60 seconds.

When you feel ready to proceed, curl the toes under, lift the hips, and move into a “short” Downward Dog: Let the feet be closer to the hands than in a deep Down Dog. In this upside-down V, make the hands into fists, or come onto the fingertips. Begin to walk around your practice space in this all-fours inversion. Give yourself room to roam: turn in circles, move in zig-zags, wherever and however feels right to you in the moment. Continue for 1 minute, breathing consciously and deeply.

Pause: Move the legs wider than hip width. Shift the torso over to the left leg; hold the foot, ankle, or lower leg, stretching for 5 full breaths. Let the head hang freely. You may modify by bending the knees.

Then, walk the hands over to the right leg, bringing the torso as close to the leg as possible. Again, remain in the stretch for 5 full breaths.

Release the body back to center, and move the legs closer together. Bend the knees (if they are not already bent), and slowly roll up to stand.

Standing, move through the waist, circling the entire torso 8 times to the right, then 8 to the left. 

Then, move the hips in wide circles: 8 right, 8 left.

Still standing, feet hip-width apart, inhale up onto the balls of the feet as the arms extend up into a wide V overhead, palms and fingers stretched open. Exhale to lower onto the feet as you bend the knees and deeply round the spine: Let the arms swing down to cross under the body..

This is a standing version of the initial “open/close” movement. Inhale to rise and extend; exhale to lower and round in. Repeat 12 times.

Finally, come into your preferred seated position; feel free to sit in a chair. Bring the fingers of each hand into Surya Mudra: thumb tips to ring finger tips. Surya Mudra invokes Sun Energy, and brings vibrant energy to the mind and body.

Extend both arms to the sides at shoulder level, palms up. Inhale through the nose. As you exhale through open rounded lips, move the arms toward each other in front of the body; each arm extends straight forward from the shoulder.

Inhale, this time through the open rounded mouth, to return the arms to the original position: extended to the sides at shoulder level. Exhale through the nose to return the arms to the frontal-space position.

Continue the simple arm movement with the alternating breath. Inhale through the nose; exhale through the mouth; inhale mouth; exhale nose. Throughout the meditation, the eyes are closed and gazing to the Third Eye. Continue for 3 minutes.

When you have finished, help yourself into Svasana. Rest and integrate the practice for 5-10 minutes. Then, embark upon your next activity with renewed strength and vitality.

Happy Sunday…

Another Gem for “Treasure Trove!”

A new audio practice is available at anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson.

Inspired by a 2018 Everything Elsa piece called, “Sacred Secrets at the Gym,” the routine demonstrates the hidden depths of basic fitness moves. The practice can serve as an antidote for anyone bored by their usual workout; or as an inroad for those curious about Eastern-influenced disciplines and their psycho-spiritual benefits.

New Audio Follow-Along: Evening Elixir

Part of the “Treasure Trove” series, “Evening Elixir” provides a way to unwind after a busy day, or to help you settle down if hit with a bout of insomnia. And there is no need to save the practice for evening: Any time you feel emotionally wrought or physically exhausted, turn to this tension-relieving, peace-inducing routine.

The full practice is up and running at: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

Silent Sundays: Personal Stories, Universal Truth

On this Silent Sunday, I find myself pondering Truth. Given the seeming complexity and elusiveness of the topic, I wonder why I feel compelled to wrangle with it: However, in questioning my yen to address Truth, I find a ready answer. What I refer to as complex and elusive is, essentially, fundamental and ever-present. So, to enter the fray with Truth is to seek Reality when the external environment feels surreal and inexplicable. 

Some of my thoughts were helped into a framework after I read an article in The Atlantic: “Our Brains Want the Story of the Pandemic to Be Something It Isn’t,” by Joe Pinsker. He describes the need that most of us have to “storify” our experiences. In doing so, we create an understandable through-line for events and feelings that could otherwise overwhelm us.

The notion of a narrative-based reality is, in itself, confounding. If events—their cause, their effect, their purpose, and sometimes even their existence—can be perceived and described so differently by so many different people, how can Truth be discerned?

While the the context of the article is the COVID-19 pandemic, the premise can be extended to address the current conflict in Ukraine…and more. Those in the midst of the bombings and attacks certainly feel the real pain and fear: However, those in Russia hear a different narrative, one that either denies the combat and resultant horrors, or one that rationalizes—even glorifies—the war. 

And “out here,” in a country thousands of miles away, I read and listen to Western news sources. I take it for granted that I hear the truth of the events: I watch and hear the stories of Ukrainians who have left the remains of loved ones in the rubble of what was once a home. And from my own throat and lips, sounds and words emerge that point to one thing: anger.

This is not the kind of anger that stirs when personally affronted. It is however, the kind of angry frustration that occurs when blatant inhumanity reigns. I felt similarly during the racist events of 2020; I feel the same soul-tearing when I think of the Holocaust; and I feel the uneasy quakes when I realize how prejudice and persecution is interwoven into our lives here on earth from Day One.

Then, I circle back to the contemplation of Truth. Confronted with the infuriating, confusing events that are taking place now—and those that have and will—my recourse is two-fold: release the unsettled emotion, and restore calm, abiding Faith. For when Truth is disguised, or when Truth is blurred by or replaced with conflicting narratives, I return to the one and only constant that also always was and always will be: God.

For those who question or hold no belief in the powers of the Divine Universe, the following practice is nonetheless applicable. Simply wrap your mind around whatever your sense of the ultimate Truth is. If, indeed, it is the world and body that you inhabit, then hone in on the most positive vibrations that exist within those forms. 

Regardless, the practice works to bring one back to a centered state of being, and then expands to unite the human self with the eternal Truth. This is the Truth that knows no narrative; it can not be rewritten or reimagined, nor altered in any way. It is unto itself. 

To free yourself from the constraints of ingrained stories and perceptions, you will undertake a thorough clearing of the entire chakra system. To stimulate each energy center and bring each into its optimal state is the first step. Then, all are harmonized, which establishes the foundation for impartial clarity—the ability to discern and receive the Truth.

Begin seated. With the palms or fists on the ground, press down to lift the hips off of the ground. Quickly drop the body down. Inhale to lift, exhale to drop. Be sure to keep the spine lifted and long: ideally, you will feel a reverberative shock all the way up through the spine with each drop. Complete 16 Drops.

Then, move immediately into Sufi Grinds. With the hands on the knees, circle the torso clockwise; undulate powerfully through the waist and ribs as if to massage each organ as you circle. Inhale through the front portion of the circle; exhale as you circle through the back space. 

Continue for 1 minute, then reverse directions. Continue counter-clockwise for 1 more minute.

Then, still seated, place the feet on the floor, knees bent. With the hands slightly behind the body, press down through the arms to lift the hips into a modified Rear Platform, or Table Pose.

Tilt the head back slightly; if necessary, you may keep it in a neutral position. With eyes closed and focused on the Third Eye, begin Breath of Fire through the nose: Continue for 1 minute.

Next, lower down and “flip the Table” to come onto all fours. From here, lower yourself down to bring the crown of the head to the floor. Release the hands behind you, and interlace the fingers. Lengthen through the elbows to straighten the arms, and lift the arms away from the back.

Inhale: As you exhale, settle the hips down toward the heels, and lower the arms down to the back. You will roll from the crown to the forehead. Inhale to shift forward and up onto the crown as the arms lift; exhale to settle back and down. Continue this Moving Yoga Mudra for 12 rounds. (One round is inhale up/exhale down.)

Now, return to a seated posture. Bring the arms in next to the body, elbows bent, palms facing each other: Fingers are straight and together on each hand. Begin to alternately shoot the arms straight up, full lengthening each arm as it darts upward. Fully and quickly extend and retract each arm before moving the other. Alternate left and right as quickly as possible: inhale up, exhale down. Continue for 1 minute.

Sit quietly for a few deep breaths. Then, bring the hands behind the neck, interlacing the fingers: Open the elbows as wide as possible. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, inhale deeply through the nose: Use your mind’e eye to guide the breath from the Root Chakra, or base of spine, up the front of the spine, all the way to the Crown; exhale to send the breath down through corridor of energy vortexes, back to the Root. Complete 8 of these long, slow visualized breaths.

Finally, place the left palm on the Heart Center. Bend the right arm, elbow against the waist, palm facing forward. Create Gyan Mudra: Touch the index and thumb tip together, other three fingers together and straight up.

With eyes closed and focused to the Third Eye, begin to silently chant: Aum Tat Sat (ohm taht suht). I suggest the inner chant of “Aum” on an inhale, and “Tat Sat” upon the exhale. The mantra acknowledges and exalts the eternal Truth of the Universe. Remain here, invoking and infusing that certainty within, for 3-11 minutes.

Happy Sunday…

Introducing: Treasure Trove

Culled from five years of Everything Elsa blogs, “Treasure Trove” is specifically curated to be a series of audio practices. The first episode, from a piece written in June 2020, revisits a short practice designed to spark optimism and physical vitality.

Originally created to counter the early confusion and enervation of COVID lockdown, the practice now serves again to offset global sociopolitical and -cultural uncertainty. The routine is less than 10 minutes, yet will provide a renewed sense of mental and physical power. Find the practice at:

anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson

Until next time…

Silent Sundays: Free and Easy

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.

Happy Sunday…