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: How To Abide Duality

Yesterday, I attended an online 3HO (kundalini yoga) event for the March Equinox. Before one lecture, the speaker, Madhur-Nain, gave a brief introduction about how she came to blend her work as a therapist with her role as kundalini teacher. She described how for many years, she kept the two separate: She regarded those compartments of her life as a necessary duality.

Like most dualistic experiences and awarenesses, the situation was inherently incomplete: The separation of one from another intrinsically negates the chance for wholeness, for balance. Thus, she created a professional life for herself in which her two therapeutic backgrounds—yoga teacher and counselor—could inhabit the same space.

A few days before this, I had heard an interview with a singer, Michael Buble, who, when asked how he balances work and family, answered that ultimately, there is no balance: Family, for him, would always take precedence.

While these two situations may seem antithetical—one affirms that balance is possible, one states that one thing must always “weigh more”—they both relate to my personal and recent tussle with dualistic sensibilities and circumstances.

Certainly, it is no coincidence that this topic has leapt to the fore, given my mother’s recent death. What could create more of a sense of duality than the awareness that a loved one is no longer in the same dimension? But that is not the piece that has crept into my psyche the most: Instead, it is a conversation that I had with my sister soon after our mom’s passing.

Following her death, I began to feel a sense of emotional and mental discomfort with regard to a childhood situation that, for the the most part, was not mentioned in our family. As I talked about this with my sister, she commented that it was “not really in my life; it was its own separate thing.” I knew in that moment that, counter to my sister’s view, the situation had very much infiltrated my life; it had been with me—in me—ever since its occurrence.

Although I think my sister meant that I had compartmentalized it, her words struck me as false: The very nature of the childhood issue meant that there was no way it would not become part of my perceptions, views, and even my physicality. What her words revealed is that I had done a good job of living with it and of intellectualizing it.

But upon Mom’s death, I was faced with how something I had forced into a place of duality—then and now—was, in fact, ever-present. It happened, it infused my being, and it remains.

Duality comes in many different forms, many of which occupy the category of “inner vs. outer”: professional vs. personal self; private vs. public behaviors; honesty vs. secrets, and so on. 

And then there are the larger themes, such as earthly vs. divine realms; or reality vs. illusion. For me (and, I suspect, many others) that is perhaps a karmic task: to exist on this planet as a human being, despite the sense that this lifetime is one of an illusory nature.

How does one abide dualities large and small, emotional and physical, spiritual and intellectual?

First, I have come to believe that it does no good to ignore the inherent imbalance of duality. Rarely, if ever, do two discrete beliefs or circumstances or identities share equal importance to the person experiencing them. Duality is not a constant state of separate, but equal; rather, it is one of ongoing adjustment and adaptation.

Duality thus indicates the continual need to abide flux and dis-ease. To abide duality is to learn “how to live, despite….”

Now, to be perfectly frank, I am not happy about this realization. It does, however, offer a spiritual challenge, which is a context that I can, do, and will always accept, even welcome.

Contemplation and Meditation

So, on this Silent Sunday, I offer no “remedy,” nor even a singular way to approach Duality. Rather, I suggest contemplation of the dualities in your own life; how they affect seemingly unrelated areas of your life (e.g., patterns of behavior or cognition); and which “half” of the duality more often than not tips the scale.

After some quiet thinking time, bring your awarenesses to meditation. As a practice, the aim is to acknowledge any dissonance created by duality; calm it; and then release it into the universal realm, where it can be observed and accepted as a piece of your personal puzzle.

Mudras for Contemplation

As you sit and ponder the duality in your own life—impostor syndrome? mom or dad vs. professional power person? logic vs. emotion?—try one of the following mudras. Each will help to settle your thoughts, so that you can identify the nature and effect of the duality.

1) On each hand, hold the index finger down into the palm with the thumb. The other fingers remain straight. Then, place the hands on the knees or in the lap, palms up or down;

2)   Place one hand in the palm of the other, both palms up. Thumb tips touch;

3)   Touch the fingertips and thumb tips of one hand to the corresponding tips of the other. Palms are apart. Hold the mudra at any level in front of you; fingers are apart and point up.

Mudra for Meditation

In your seated position, touch the pinky sides of the hands together; turn the palms up. Let the hands be soft, so that they create a subtle bowl. Extend the arms out in front of the Heart Center; again, keep this relaxed—allow the elbows to be slightly bent. 

Consciously place your realizations from contemplation in the vessel of your hands. Let them be soft, but discernible, like dandelion fluff. 

Turn the closed eyes up to gaze at the Third Eye. Inhale deeply through the nose. Exhale through slightly open lips; direct the breath toward the hands, as if trying to blow the Duality “fluff” into the Universe. Continue for 3-5 minutes.

Happy Sunday…

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

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…

Fresh Audio Practice!

The follow-along version of last Silent Sunday’s practice, “Light Lift,” is now available at anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson.

The routine is an excellent way to start the day, as it eases muscle stiffness, activates mental focus, and invigorates circulation. Overall, the aim of the practice is to rejuvenate and uplift.

Silent Sundays: Light Lift

Reminder: The audio version of “Grief: The Practice” is at: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson. While created specifically for those moving through the grieving process, the routine also offers a sense of stability and comfort during any time of uncertainty or emotional vulnerability.

Despite the above Reminder, there is only so much Winter Weariness, Pandemic Fatigue, and Grueling Grief that anyone can take. Today’s Silent Sunday offers exactly the opposite: a practice culled from previous posts, all created to rejuvenate and uplift. If you feel the need for a reprieve from “serious” thoughts or circumstances, today’s session offers just that: a light-hearted treat for body, mind, and mood.

The first movement is a classic tai chi exercise: Bear Swing relieves physical tension, particularly in the low back. Additionally, the swinging arms gently stimulate the Liver and Gall Bladder, thereby helping to shed metabolic and emotional waste. 

Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width, with the knees slightly bent and the pelvis in a neutral, relaxed position. Smoothly turn your torso to the right, allowing the arms to swing naturally by your sides; then twist to the left as the arms begin to feed into the back-and-forth swing. Adjust your breath, so that you consciously breathe in as you move through center, and out as you turn to one side or the other. Continue this grounded, yet breezy swing to the left and right for 1-3 minute: Move to the point where your arms feel weightless, your spine feels free, and your legs feel rooted and steady.

Still standing, bring your legs closer together, about hip-width apart. Inhale to rise onto the toes as the arms sweep up and overhead; exhale to drop the arms as you drop onto the heels. Inhale up, exhale down: Complete 12 Pranic Drops. This move acts as a total qi “cleanser”: The body releases stagnant energy that may prevent the intake and circulation of fresh, vibrant qi.

Now, prepare for Buttocks Bounce, which is an energizing, full-body alignment technique. Step your feet about a yard apart; the distance depends on your height and range of motion. Bend the knees as deeply as you can; bring the body forward and down; and reach your arms back between your legs, fingers facing behind. Set your position, so that the thighs and torso are about parallel to the ground: Keep the head in line with the spine. Begin to bounce in this posture, maintaining the overall shape of your legs and body, but with quick vibrational bounces. Stick your tongue out, and briskly “”pant” 11 times in time with 11 bounces. 

Inhale to stand. Exhale thoroughly, and then re-enter the posture. Again, Bounce and breathe through an open mouth, tongue extended, 11 times. Inhale to stand, exhale deeply and fully, and move into the position one last time. Complete the 11 bounces-with-breaths, and then slowly move your legs together: Hang in an easy, relaxed forward bend for a couple of breaths.

Next, lower yourself onto all fours for a few rounds of traditional Cat/Cow: Breathe in to arch (extend) the spine; exhale fully to round (flex). 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 right side of the chest. Exhale again to release the arm and leg back into the long cross-body line, and then all the way back down to the all-fours base.

Repeat the entire sequence on the other side: inhale to lift the left arm and right leg to shoulder and hip height, respectively. Exhale to reach the left hand back to hold the right foot or ankle, and so forth. Repeat two more times, alternating sides, for a total of 3 sequences for each side.

Remain on all fours for this next, somewhat challenging move: Mental focus and physical agility must rise to the fore. Keep the torso as still as possible as you quickly bring the hands away from the floor to clap underneath the Heart Center. Expect that you will have to “rehearse” a few times before you learn to stabilize the torso while clapping quickly. Once you find your way to steadiness, repeat 8 times.

Then, lower yourself onto the belly. With the arms by the sides, palms down against the floor, rest the forehead on the ground. In this position, begin to “jump” the body up and down. Everything from chest to knees should lift as you inhale the body up; exhale to drop the body down. Continue vigorously for 1 minute. (As always, modify your position, and/or add padding where necessary to be able to complete the exercise.)

Next, roll onto the back for an empowering movement that is nonetheless fluid and accessible. It To begin Water Wheel, extend both legs straight up into the air, perpendicular to the floor; the arms may rest by your sides, or feel free to slip the hands under the hips for additional support. Inhale, then exhale to lower the legs to about a 45-degree angle; at that point, draw both knees in toward your chest, then inhale to extend the legs back up to 90 degrees. Exhale to lower part way, bend and retract the knees; inhale to return to the starting position. 

Continue for 30-60 seconds, and then reverse the flow. In the starting position, inhale: Exhale as your bend the knees toward the chest, and then extend both legs out to 45 degrees; inhale as your raise the legs up to 90 degrees. Exhale as you bend and extend; inhale to lift. Again, continue for 30-60 seconds.

Now, help yourself into a seated position; feel free to bolster as needed. This “pranayama pump” builds focus, stamina, and self-control.

To begin, bring the hands into Prayer Pose in front of the Heart Center: However, keep the hands a couple of inches away from the chest. Lengthen up through the neck, roll the shoulders back, draw the shoulder blades down, and tilt the head back slightly. Here, inhale fully: With the breath suspended, and the upper spine slightly arched, pump the stomach as quickly as you can, for as long as you can. 

When you need to, exhale as you realign the spine and head to neutral, and bring Prayer Pose to rest on the sternum. In this posture, with the breath out, pump the stomach rapidly and for as long as possible.

Inhale into the original hands-off, head-back pose: Suspend the breath, and pump. Exhale to find neutral spine with the hands against the chest; with empty breath, pump until you need to breathe in. Continue this pattern for 2 minutes.

Now, in your preferred seated posture, form Pran Mudra to further cultivate overall vitality. Touch the tips of the ring and pinky fingers to their respective thumb tips. Bring the arms to shoulder level, reaching straight out to the sides; the palms face up with the mudra intact. Here, with eyes open, inhale deeply through rounded lips, and then exhale powerfully with Lion’s Breath (tongue extended out and down, eyes rolled up). Repeat 5 more times.

Finally, in order to consolidate the fresh energy you have supplied to your physical, mental, and emotional bodies, lie on your back. In traditional Svasana pose, eyes closed, inhale deeply and fully: Use the exhale to create the sound, “Heeeee.” This is the sound associated with the Triple Warmer in Traditional Chinese Medicine; this organ system regulates the metabolism, and thus ensures optimal circulation of energy.

Imagine the long, soft sound as an internal shower or stream of water flowing from head to toes. Continue the vocalization, inhaling deeply before sounding upon exhale, for 1 minute. Then, allow yourself to drift into silent rest for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Grief: The Practice

Special note: The following practice was created to address the complex, often unexpected emotional and physical manifestations of Grief. As such, the routine can provide comfort and stability during any time of trepidation or uncertainty. The moves activate Root and Heart energy, thereby providing a sense of security and hopefulness.

If you find that to engage with the entire routine is too much on any given day, choose only that which resonates with and supports your immediate need. For example, if in a particularly raw state, perhaps you ease only into the bolstered Seated Forward Bend, and then directly to one or more parts of the closing meditation.  

You can find detailed instructions for the practice outlined below in the follow-along audio version, at: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson.

Begin standing:

*Side bends with thoracic spine mobilization

This set of movements gradually eases the chest and upper back out of a closed or frozen state. The progressive nature of the sequence provides options: For example, one can choose to work only with the first or second move, rather than proceed to the full expression of the movement. In this way, one can identify and appropriately honor emotional and physical limitations throughout the grieving process.

*Half-stance Cat/Cow

*Crow Squat with Heart projection

Then:

*Baby Pose with moving Yoga Mudra arms

Seated:

*Body Drops

This move from kundalini yoga helps to loosen and eject any energy blocks in the First, or Root Chakra. Stuck energy in this area can exacerbate feelings of insecurity. The assertive movement strengthens the nerves that may feel frazzled by adrenalin, or numbed by uncertainty.

*Upper-body twisting

*Back-platform lifts

*Kundalini Lotus with Breath of Fire

*Supported Forward Bend

Three-part Mudra Meditation:

1) Eyes closed; no particular focus. Hands on low belly, left over right, with right thumb on navel point. Inhale; suspend; squeeze Root Lock; release and exhale; repeat. Continue for 1 minute.

2) Right palm remains on belly; bring the left to rest on the Heart Center. Natural and conscious breathing for 1 more minute.

3)  Bring right hand to cover left; interlock the thumbs; fingers spread and angle out toward shoulders. This is Garuda Mudra: Use judiciously to dispel emotional or physical exhaustion; or to steady shifting moods.

With the closed eyes turned up to gaze at the Third Eye, begin a simple version of a breath taught by Paramahansa Yogananda. Curl the tongue back, reaching the tip toward the rear roof of the mouth; inhale through slightly parted lips, deeply and steadily. Close the lips to exhale, slowly and completely, through the nose. Continue for 1-3 minutes.

To close, sit in simple stillness, or ease into Svasana to rest for as long as you like.