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

New “Treasure Trove” Audio Practice!

The most recent episode of “Treasure Trove” on the Everything Elsa podcast helps to calm the heightened energies of today’s Full Moon. You will be able to follow along to a short, flowing warm-up, which will free you to sit comfortably for a pranayama sequence. Both the physical moves and the breath work reflect the routine’s intention to bring scattered, overactive energies (mental, emotional, physical) into a more neutral, refreshed state.

You can find this practice (and others) 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…

New Audio Practice to Release Tension!

The Silent Sunday practice, “Free and Easy,” is now available in its follow-along form. If you want to ease your body and mind into a state of optimal flow, visit: anchor.fm/ellen-sanders-robinson. This practice (and plenty of others) are ready and waiting for you.

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…

Silent Sundays: Find Your Way–Pranayama Meditation

Yesterday, my sister and I were talking about our sense of life “post-Mom.” Countless other people who have experienced the passing of a loved one have probably had similar conversations: There was nothing especially remarkable about our sharing of thoughts and emotions. One bit of our talk has stuck with me, however, as it marked a distinct shift in my typical approach to uncertainty.

Heretofore, my first step when confronted with a challenge of any kind is to pray. For me, the “directional” sense of prayer is probably that of many others: upward, vertical. Similarly, my overall energy tends to “float above”: I find my comfort zone in higher consciousness and vibrations. 

Yet, as I described to my sister the way in which I was sussing out the new duality of void and possibility that our mother’s death had left behind, I found myself using the word, “wide.” In so doing, I stopped: Rarely, if ever had I kinesthetically felt or intuited anything through the horizontal plane. To process and connect through “widening” is a first for me: Up, up, and away has always been my path.

Such is the crux of this Silent Sunday’s practice: to hone in on your own typical trajectory through life, and to experiment with less-familiar routes.

Begin in Baby Pose, simply breathing in and out through the nose. As the breath deepens and lengthens, bring your attention to the rib cage. Often, one thinks of the “breath direction” as up and down, which is anatomically logical: Upon inhalation, the diaphragm moves down; upon exhalation, it moves back up. 

Now, however, consciously ensure that the ribs expand out to the sides as you breathe in; let them retract back toward center as you exhale. Breathe deeply in this position, with the intention of horizontal movement, for 1 minute.

Then, slowly roll up through the spine, so that you are sitting on your heels in Rock Pose. If this is an untenable position for you, place a pillow between your heels and buttocks for lift and support. Alternatively, find another seated posture that allows you to sit comfortably upright. 

With both hands on the low belly (one atop the other), lead your breath down a different path. As you inhale fully through the nose, feel the belly expand and push out, or forward. Through slightly parted and rounded lips, exhale through the mouth; feel the full retraction of the belly. Connect with the earthiness—the earthliness—of this forward and back movement throughout the Lower Triangle of chakras. Continue to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth for 1 minute.

Now, repeat the sideways “rib breathing” to bring the energy focus back up to the Heart Center. Instead of Baby Pose, however, sit with the legs open to a straddle (wide V). Add a subtle movement to the breath and rib work.

With the palms facing each other a few inches apart in front of the chest, allow them to separate a bit more as you inhale to expand the ribs to the sides. As you exhale and let the ribs return inward, the hands also move softly back toward each other. Continue for 1 minute, eyes closed, breathing in and out through the nose.

From the wide-leg seated position, draw the legs together, extended straight forward. Bring the arms overhead, shoulder width apart. Feel free to sit on the edge of a cushion, or to place a rolled blanket under the knees, if this position is hard to access.

Take your mind’s eye to the bony notch at the base of the throat: This is the starting point for the Upper Triangle breath. As you inhale through open, rounded lips, visualize the breath entering the Throat Chakra through that center point of the collarbone; draw it up, passing behind the Third Eye, to reach the top of the skull.

As you exhale deeply through the nose, slowly open the arms about 30 degrees to each side to form a narrow V. Simultaneously, imagine the Crown opening. As the breath moves up and out, it infuses the auric field, thereby strengthening aspects of higher consciousness that inhabit the Upper Triangle. Continue for 1 minute.

Then, ease your way onto the back: Hug the knees into the chest. Return to the Ribcage Breath in this position: Inhale through the nose to expand the ribs sideways; exhale through the nose to feel their gentle retraction. Continue for 1 minute.

To close the practice, roll yourself up to come into your favorite seated pose. The practice ends where so often it begins: with spinal flexes. Used at this point in the practice, the movements ensure that all portals and directions of breath, of possibility, and of divine connection are open and accessible.

Seated with hands on knees or thighs, inhale to arch (extend) the spine forward; exhale to round (flex) the spine back. This is the same movement as Cat/Cow on all fours, but transposed to a seated variation. Inhale to push the spine forward, shoulders back, chest open; exhale to round, shoulders forward, belly back and in. Let the movement flow from pelvis to shoulder girdle; the head and neck remain relatively neutral. Continue for 1 minute.

Finish with a round of Sufi Grinds. Circle the torso clockwise; undulate through the ribcage as if massaging the organs. Inhale as you circle through the front space; exhale as you pass through the back space. Continue for 1 minute, then reverse the circle; move counter-clockwise for 1 more minute.

Finally, still seated, bring the hands into Gyan Mudra. One of the most familiar mudras, it also is one of the most powerful when seeking guidance: Here, it harnesses universal, divine wisdom, and imparts it to the open, vibrating vessel of the body and mind that you have created. Touch the index finger tips to thumb tips on each hand; rest the hands upon the knees, palms up. With eyes closed and gazing to the Third Eye, breathe naturally, yet consciously for at least 3 minutes. 

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…