Silent Sundays: Prepare to Meditate, Part Two–The Way In

As alluded to in yesterday’s piece, the prospect of meditation may be daunting to some. Whether one’s hesitancy is rooted in the physical (“I can’t sit still”); mental (“I have too much on my mind”); or circumstantial realm (“I don’t have the time”), the following routine will assuage doubts, offer fundamental physical and mental techniques, and move seamlessly into a short meditation. 

Special note: I have encountered mis- or uninformed folks who wonder if meditation contradicts or threatens their religious practices. First, “meditation” is not one, abiding practice: Like yoga, there are many styles and aims. Each can serve as a complementary adjunct to other religious or spiritual practices. 

I have come to believe that this misunderstanding surrounding meditation stems from a confusion between prayer and meditation. Prayer assumes a belief in God or gods; meditation need not. (To be clear, my personal practice of meditation is rooted in my sense of God and the Universe; other approaches, however, may be aimed at improving productivity, instilling calm, or even reducing pain.) One way to explain the difference may be to suggest that prayer is an outwardly directed supplication to the divine; meditation is the inward-moving reception of whatever energy one intends to arouse.

Thus, the following routine will be beneficial for all. And it need not be used only in conjunction with meditation; any one or combination of the components will provide an efficient warm-up for activity, and help to establish clarity and focus.

Begin standing. This is the first of four spine-mobilization moves: It may be viewed as the start of a sequence, or, as with any of the others, may be done as a stand-alone exercise. From standing, bend the knees slightly, keeping them in line with the heels; bend forward to place the hands where they naturally fall on the thighs. Inhale to extend (arch) the spine as you draw the shoulders back to open the chest; exhale to flex (round) the spine. Move at a pace that feels comfortable, and that stimulates energy. Allow the neck and head to move as they naturally will upon flexion and extension of the spine. Continue for 30-60 seconds.

Next, come to the floor on all fours. Here, begin traditional Cat/Cow spinal movement: Inhale to arch; exhale to round. Breathe deeply, stay relaxed through the mouth and jaw, and extend/flex for 1 minute.

The third option for spinal work is to lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat and hip-width apart. This spinal activity requires deep attention to the breath and physical movement; it is a significant step toward uniting the two. The synergy of connecting breath to spinal articulation signals an aspect of the upcoming meditation. 

In your supine position, arms by the sides, inhale to tip the tail forward and down; this pelvic tilt is the “home base” of the following sequence. Exhale to bring the tail and pelvis in and up; you will rise to the top, rear rim of the pelvis. Inhale to roll the pelvis back down and directly into the “home base” forward tilt; exhale to roll up incrementally through the lower spine, to the lowest ribs. Inhale to roll down and into the forward pelvic tilt; exhale to roll up, sensing each vertebra lifting off the floor, to just below armpit-level. Inhale down, vertebra by vertebra, into “home base;” exhale all the way up to the tops of the shoulder blades, and stay.

Inhale to lift the arms up and over to rest on the floor over your head. Exhale to roll down, piece by piece; with the arms stretched long overhead, the lowering spine will created an intense stretch through the axilla (armpit). This may be astonishingly stiff for some, so move slowly and patiently; with repetition, the area will ease.

Repeat the entire sequence 4 more times, for a total of 5.

Now, with the body at rest and the knees still bent, feet on the floor, let the knees drop toward the left; move as if they are dominoes or windshield wipers—one leads, the other follows. Inhale back to center; exhale to the right. “Windshield Wipe” the legs back and forth up to 20 times; this will help release tension in the hips and lower back.

When centered again, draw the knees in toward you, just enough to hold behind the thighs. Use your grip to raise the head and shoulders off the ground; you will be in a little boat shape. Now, “rock the boat”: Inhale to rock yourself back, keeping the head up; exhale to rock forward toward the buttocks. Use momentum, and be aware of the activated abdominal muscles: This move provides a bit of a massage to the muscles along the spine, as it subtly strengthens the front body (a necessary ingredient for any sitting practice). Rock back and forth with corresponding breath 10-20 times.

After you have rocked yourself up to a seated position, extend the legs straight forward. Here is the final version of spinal warm-ups. Bring the hands to the shoulders, fingers in front, thumbs behind; the elbows are lifted, so that the upper arms are parallel to the floor. As you inhale, tip the pelvis forward, and draw the elbows behind as if to touch; the entire front body will open in this spinal extension. Simultaneously, bend the knees and flex the feet (bring the toes toward you), with the heels remaining on the ground.

As you exhale, rock the pelvis back, bring the elbows forward to touch each other, and let the head hang; the spine is now deeply rounded into flexion. Simultaneously, lengthen through the knees and extend (point) the feet. 

Continue this spinal flexion and extension, with corresponding “leg pumps” and breath, for 1 minute.

Now you are ready to sit. As always, support yourself in any way that contributes to an upright, aligned spine and relaxed hips and shoulders. A chair or mediation bench are other options. Here begins the next phase of moving into meditation: complete, steady breathing and mental focus. To begin, close your eyes. With your inner eye, guide the breath through the entire path of the spine you have just worked to awaken: Inhale at the Root, or perineum; draw the breath up the entire front cross-section of the spine, through the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical curves, all the way to the bridge of the nose. Exhale, and reverse the trajectory, traveling with the mind’s eye down the rear cross-section of the spine. Inhale up the front of the channel; exhale down the back. Continue for about a minute.

Next, allow this breath pathway to move on “automatic pilot.” Bring your visual focus to the Third Eye: Eyes are closed, and gazing up and in to the spot between the brows. You also will add sound to the breath, which creates an auditory focal point. Inhale deeply through the nose, long and steady, and exhale through rounded lips—“hooo”—until all the breath is gone. Repeat this inhale and exhale with Third Eye and sound focus 5-10 times.

The final aspect of focus is touch. With the hands on the knees, palms up, you will touch first the left index fingertip to thumb tip; then the middle tip to thumb; then the ring finger; and then the pinky  to thumb tip. (The right hand is quiet.) This move establishes a 4-count; repeat it to make 8. This is your inhale.

To exhale, shift your “counter” to the right hand: touch index, middle, ring, and pinky, then repeat to reach the 8-count. Work with your breath to help it effortlessly meld with the 8-count: Inhale for 8, counting with the left hand; exhale for 8, using the right-hand counter. Repeat 3-4 times.

Finally, with your preparations completed, move into a short meditation. The suggested mudra recalls the idea that meditation is an act of receiving; you have created an clear, open vessel into which energy may flow. Bring both hands in front of the Heart Center, just an inch or two away from the chest. Touch the edges of the pinkies together; connect the base of the palms; and bring the edges of the thumbs together. With this Lotus Mudra “cup,” simply sit and breathe, closed eyes gazing to the Third Eye. Inhale to draw divine or universal energy into the mudra; exhale to imbue it within your entire being. Continue for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Prepare to Meditate–Part One: Some Personal Background

As I began to think about writing for this week’s Silent Sundays, I realized that I was distracted by the ample amount of reading I need to do for an upcoming meditation training. It quickly became clear that I needed to address my ironically divided attention: Thus was born the following introduction to tomorrow’s practice.

When I taught my first yoga class nearly 25 years ago, one of the comments I heard most often from potential students was: “I can not stay still long enough for yoga;” or, “I get bored too easily.” Because I began my yoga adventure in the ashtanga tradition, I was able to assure high-energy skeptics that their need to move would be accommodated. 

Although ashtanga yoga links multiple poses through fast-flowing vinyasa and acrobatic jumps, the tradition nevertheless requires intense focus and attention to breath. As such, like all other physical forms of yoga, the foundation for meditation is being set: In order to sit for long periods of time, the body needs to be aligned and relaxed, without the distraction of physical discomfort.

And lo and behold, by the end of any class—even beginners, who often arrived as runners or “workout fanatics”—high-energy students would welcome Svasana, and be able to “sit still long enough” for a brief closing meditation.

Cut to 10 years later: By that time, I had begun studying kundalini yoga; often, I would bring the tradition’s spinal warm-ups to the ashtanga students. Over time, the blending of the styles seemed natural to me and my students. With the added emphasis on spinal flexibility, students further developed the ability to sit for meditation. Inevitably, closing meditations became longer, if not an integral aspect of each practice.

During this time, I attended my first silent retreat, which lasted a week. I fell easily, naturally, blissfully into “social silence”: Upon departure from the retreat center, I mourned the loss of Truth that seemed to arise when one is unencumbered by the need to speak or respond. From that point forward, I have taken one day a week to be in silence: Hence, Silent Sundays.

As with my entree into yoga and teaching, I was met with bafflement when describing immersion into silence. Any suggestion that it could be a beneficial practice for stressed-out clients or friends was met with a bewildered shaking of the head: “Oh, I could never be quiet for that long!”

The ability to sit comfortably in an aligned manner requires practice and continual attendance to  the key muscles associated with posture and general physical ease. The ability to be silent requires a willingness to convene with your thoughts and emotions; this, too, necessitates mental strength and ardent discipline. As with those yoga students who never dreamed that yoga could or would be conducive to their energy, those new to meditation may have preconceptions that are directing their reluctance.

Whether one cites an energetic, physical, or intellectual reason that “meditation is not for me,” I would suggest one session in which to experiment with the basics of sitting and moving inward. The “way in,” in my opinion, begins with the body: If achy or stiff, no one can be expected to sit with proper alignment for more than a minute or two. Further, to introduce and develop mental focus, the body also offers an inroad, by dint of tangible focal points and anatomical visualizations.

The practice that I will introduce in tomorrow’s piece is conducive to any style of meditation. Further, the movements and suggestions are physically and mentally strengthening and centering: The routine would serve as a wonderful start to any day, as well as prepare anyone for seated meditation.

’Til tomorrow…

Silent Sundays: Right and Rewrite

Into all lives comes tribulation; into all hearts and minds comes the need to respond. How one proceeds with each challenge marks the defining moments each of us will have; this process occurs daily, often subconsciously. Today’s practice addresses the “bigger stuff”—the circumstances that necessitate awareness, discernment, and ultimately, commitment.

This Silent Sunday arrives one day after I received a positive note regarding a previous post: https://everythingelsa.blog/2021/03/31/nobodys-fool-lessons-from-pain-rehab-and-beyond/.

As I typically do after receiving acknowledgement or commentary on what I have written, I reread the piece. With each paragraph, I became increasingly uncomfortable: I came face to face with disappointment… in myself.

This was not, however, the self-flagellation of yore, when I might have retaliated against my reaction with less-than-helpful thoughts or behaviors. Rather, I almost immediately shifted from “self-disappointment,” to “self-correction.” 

I thought of addicts, whose sober state is never a given. And I realized that none of us are impervious to “falling off the wagon,” be it a spiritual or physical endeavor: Whether the aim is to progress through the soul or body, Commitment is imperative. 

And that is where I have tripped up in the past. I did not recognize that Commitment is not a blanket state of mind: It is an emphatic choice to address a specific situation. To be committed in one area does not suggest commitment to all. For example, one may readily commit to, say, a person, yet have trouble remaining committed to a project. Or a committed fitness plan may be second nature, whereas a commitment to balanced nutrition may falter.

As I read the post appreciated by a stranger, I remembered the feeling of commitment to my health that had spurred the piece. As I moved through the article, the sinking feeling that I have begun to wander back to taking my body for granted took me aback.

How close I had come to forsaking a chance to right my physical course and rewrite its future…

Enter Commitment.

One of the psycho-spiritual philosophies of Kundalini yoga is the framework called “Seven Steps to Happiness”: Commitment is Number One. From there arises Character; then Dignity, Divinity, Grace, and the Power to Sacrifice; and ultimately, Happiness.

Like Life, however, the trajectory of this developmental course is not consistently linear. Sometimes several traits permeate an individual’s state of being; at other times, one seems bereft of any. One may be of solid character, but harbor self-doubt; one may feel connected to the Divine, yet be stymied by earthly processes.

I believe that the “order” of evolution toward Happiness is fluid, as is the state itself. Thus, the attainment of any one step along the path inherently comes with the need to remain vigilant: Such is the nature of any spiritual discipline and of any earth-bound achievement. Rather than bemoan the withering of Commitment, for example, I took comfort in the moment when I recognized the need to revitalize its energy.

With that, I offer a short practice to re-establish a sense of self-compassion and unflappable Will. There are only three pieces to the session, each of which requires a commitment to persevere despite physical or mental discomfort. Upon completion of the set, you will have righted your course and cleared your mental and physical page for a rewrite.

Special note: As always, feel free to modify or pause any movement. Do, however, give yourself the opportunity to rise above inner naysaying; know that your mental fortitude can supersede bodily resistance.

To begin, lie on your back. With the arms on the floor, palms down, raise the legs 60 degrees into the air. Here is the first chance to become aware of and kind to your physical body: If the angle compromises your lower back, place a small pillow under your hips; you may also place one foot on the ground (knee bent) to practice with one leg a time. Regardless, close your eyes, and begin long, deep breathing. The posture stimulates the Lower Triangle of chakras—survival, generative spark, and will power. Remain here for 3 minutes (or: 90 seconds for each leg, if modifying).

Maintaining the leg position, prop yourself onto the elbows to complete the challenge: Begin Breath of Fire, and continue for 3 minutes. (Remember: Take a break or modify as needed, and then resume your commitment to the process.)

Next, with both knees bent and feet hip width apart, help yourself into a Half-Bridge: Lift the hips and spine away from the floor, and interlace the hands on the floor under the back, extending long through the arms. In this position, breathe fully and deeply for 1 minute. Then, lower and lift the hips at a comfortable pace 54 times.

Briefly release the position to take a breath, pulling the knees in toward the body for a squeeze. Then, resurrect the Bridge, and complete 54 more hip-lifts. Upon completion, repeat the back-easing knee squeeze, then roll up into the Bridge again. Here, breathe steadily and deeply again for 1 minute. 

Upon completion, draw the knees in, rock side to side, forward and back, and then help yourself up to sit in your preferred meditation posture. Extend each arm to the side at shoulder level. The left palm is down, the right up: On both hands, knit the index finger and middle finger together, with the ring and pinky fingers together; separate the two pairs, so that there is a V-shaped space between them. 

This mudra works to soften physical and mental discomfort, while simultaneously opening through the Heart Center and stimulating its meridians. With the empowering energy of the previous moves, this final activating meditation creates the optimal environment for your resumption of commitment to Self and your goals. When yoked to the Divine through the Heart, Commitment is renewed with spiritual vigor. 

Remain with the arms up, mudra intact, and closed eyes gazing to the Third Eye for 7 minutes. Breathe consciously and completely, and if you need to rest, do so: Then recommit to the kriya. When finished, move seamlessly into Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Rejoice In It

Yesterday was a lovely day.

After more than a couple of years (years!) of ever-increasing and -isolating pain, I was able to host a get-together to thank my generous friends—my intrepid helpers during the most physically challenging and depleting phase of my life. 

What may seem simple and easy to most (and once did to me) was instead an unusually affirming experience, and one that tickled tears of gratitude as I went about preparing for the event: several trips to the grocery store (on my own!); a stop at the wine store (carried the bottles myself!); cleaning my apartment (washed the floor on hands and knees!); and finally, preparing food and trays (stood comfortably in one spot for an extended period!). 

By the time my friends arrived for the garden party, I was tired (and admittedly achy), but happy. As soon as I saw their faces and exchanged hugs (actual, physical hugs!), my energy returned. And as the afternoon went on, I watched, absorbed, and marveled at the open hearts spreading their energy amongst each other, most of whom were meeting for the first time.

When the day was over and I went back up to my apartment, I reveled in the quiet space, and also in the energies that had permeated the afternoon. I was acutely aware of God’s presence, both in that moment, and in all the moments of ferocious pain and despair that had driven the formation of this group of caring friends. As I slowly put away trays and food, and then showered and changed into sleep clothes, I offered my thanks to God and the Universe. 

Upon waking this morning, I recalled the abiding awe of peace and gratitude from yesterday. And I thought of my grandmother, Fanny, my mom’s mom, and a conversation we had had in her final years. One day when visiting, I found her in her favorite blue armchair, her beloved Bible nestled in her lap. When I asked about her daily devotions, she shared with me her favorite of the Old Testament Psalms: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).”

My grandmother emphasized the word “in”: “Rejoice in it…” I have come to believe that her reading reflected the way that she had lived much of her life: After her husband decided not to return from overseas after World War II, Grandma became a single mother. Like the war widows of her time, she kept her family afloat by what we would now describe as “living in the Now.” Then, it was a matter of keeping her head down, getting food on the table, and, for her, tethering her will to faith in God. Grandma Morse had lived in it—in the day, every day—as a sheer matter of necessity.

To endure those circumstances, however, was not a reason to bemoan her lot: Rather, it was an opportunity to double-down on fervent Faith. 

Additionally, I sensed that Grandma recognized that when one feels God’s presence (or, feels the energetic workings of the Universe), it is a renewed chance to inhabit God’s Love. It is a moment—it is the Day Created—in which to join with eternal wonders and Mysteries.

So often, I create movement and meditation practices designed to shift or alter a state of being. On this Silent Sunday, however, I offer a practice to exalt and expand—within and without—times of rejoicing. From grand events to moments of calm contentment, the following session will deepen your connection to the positive vibrations in and around you. With today’s routine, the goal is fuse with and integrate a state of profound awareness: “Rejoice in it.”

The Practice

Because the first movement sequence requires breath suspension and retention, begin with a warm-up to encourage full, steady breathing. From standing, bend the knees a bit, and lean forward about 30 degrees to place the hands on the thighs, just above the knees. In this stance,  begin spinal flexes: Inhale to arch (extend) the spine; exhale to round (flex). The semi-upright position may feel stiff or awkward at first: Use the depth of your breath and the ballast of the hands on the legs to encourage a fuller expression of the movement. Continue for 1 minute.

Slowly rise to stand upright. Here begins a sequence of arm and torso movements with focused breathing. Inhale to raise the arms up through the side space to an angle of 60 degrees with left and right arms: a big V with the arms. Keep the breath in as you gently arch back, letting the head tilt back and the Heart Center to open. Promote the sense of exalting your good feelings as you give thanks for them. 

When you need to, exhale, straighten up, and bring the palms together overhead. Continue to exhale as the Prayer Hands move down to rest on the Heart Center. Retain the empty breath for as long as you can, filling yourself with positively imbued Heart energy.

Inhale to extend the arms straight out in front of the Heart, palms up, pinky edges of the hands touching. Tilt the head back slightly as you focus your closed eyes on the Third Eye. With the breath in, the position creates a dual purpose: an offer of gratitude to God and the Universe, and an open vessel in which to receive their energies.

As you exhale, right the head, and open the arms out wide to the sides at shoulder level. With the palms facing forward, make light fists, thumbs extended straight up. The arms remain long and equidistant from each other as you begin to twist through the torso: Inhale as you twist left, exhale right; allow the head to turn with the arms. Alternate back and forth 12 times (6 twists to each side). 

Special note: Helicopter Arms clear the magnetic field around you, while stimulating upper-body meridians. The movement establishes an optimal environment in which to integrate an especially appreciated vibration.

Repeat the entire sequence—arms up to 60 degrees; down into Prayer at the chest; extended forward; open to the sides; and then “helicoptering”—5 more times.

Next, help yourself down to lie on the floor. Here, you will need a yoga block, similarly sized book, firm pillow, or thickly rolled blanket: Place the bolster under your sacrum; the shoulder blades should be on the ground, with no tension in the neck. Let the hands rest on the floor, palms up, in Gyan Mudra: index fingers and thumb tips touching on each hand. Eyes are closed, gazing at the Third Eye. This position encourages a full and peaceful opening to whatever energy you intend to consolidate. Remain here for 3-5 minutes.

Then, slowly remove the prop. Still on your back, extend both arms and both legs straight up to 90 degrees: Dead Bug pose. In this nerve-stabilizing position, inhale as you flex the ankle, curl and clench the toes, and make tight fists of the hands (palms face each other). Exhale to extend through the ankle, release the toes, and press through the balls of the feet; simultaneously open the fingers wide to stretch through the now slightly angled-up palms. Continue this clench-and-open pattern through the hands and feet, moving rapidly with the breath, for 1 minute.

Finally, lower the arms and legs to move into Svasana. Once again revisit the sensibility with which you want to infuse your being. Welcome it as you inhale; guide it deep within as you exhale. Then, allow yourself to dwell fully in your sanctum: Rejoice in it.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Daily Doses, Conclusion–Evening Elixir

On this Silent Sunday, the third and final installment of the Daily Doses series offers a way to unwind, recalibrate, and settle down for the evening. As such, the following practice also is useful for a bout of insomnia. Additionally, the routine may be beneficial any time you feel emotionally wrought or physically fatigued: Deep breathing, energy- and mind-clearing movements, and a closing pranayama will return you to a place of peace and centeredness.

To begin, come into a supported Baby Pose. As always, the buttocks rest on the heels, and the torso rests on the thighs. (You may place a pillow between the bottom and feet for added comfort.) Now, instead of allowing the forehead to rest on the floor, place a yoga block, book, or firm pillow under the forehead: Keep the head in line with the spine. 

With the arms relaxed on the floor by your sides, begin Snake Breath. Inhale deeply through the nose; exhale through the teeth, using as much time as possible to release the breath. With the chest compressed, the inhale through the nose requires concerted effort, ensuring a full, steady breath; the hissing of the Snake Breath exhale provides a calming auditory focal point, which encourages slow, complete breathing. Continue for 3 minutes.

Now, slowly press up onto all fours, as if to do traditional Cat/Cow. Instead of alternating spinal flexion and extension, however, allow your torso, hips, and shoulders to move in any way that feels good. This is a true “unwinding” of tension that likely has accrued during the day: round, arch, bend the elbows, circle the hips, shift forward and back, side to side—let your body take the lead. As you move in this organic, intuitive manner, breathe deeply and fully. If you feel like emitting sound, do so. Continue for 3 minutes.

Next, lower onto the belly, forehead or chin on the floor. With the hands placed a few inches in front of the shoulders, inhale fully; exhale to raise up into a Cobra- or Sphinx-like posture, breathing forcefully out through the mouth, from the back of the throat, with the tongue extended down toward the chin. Allow any raspy or growling sounds to emerge with vehemence. Inhale as you lower down; exhale to rise up, and emit the detoxifying sound and breath. Complete 10 more times, for a total of 12.

From here, turn onto your back. If you are adept at Shoulder Stand, help yourself into the pose. If you prefer a modification, raise the legs to 90 degrees; you may slide your hands or a pillow under the hips for additional support. Whichever inversion you choose, begin to kick the buttocks with the heels, alternating left and right. Move as quickly and vigorously as you can, exhaling powerfully through the nose with each butt-kick. Inhale when a leg straightens, exhale as the other heel kicks its buttock. As you quickly alternate kicks, the breath becomes a near-Breath of Fire. Continue for 3 minutes.

Special note: If you begin in Shoulder Stand, and are unable to remain in this advanced and dynamic inversion for 3 minutes, feel free to lower down when you need to. Continue in the modified posture for the remaining time.

Next, release completely onto the back. Inhale, and draw the right knee in toward the body. As you exhale, use the left hand to slowly guide the knee across the body, toward the floor on the left. Let the right arm reach out to the right side at shoulder level or slightly below: The head may turn or not, as your comfort dictates. Inhale back to center; exhale to release the leg long onto the floor. 

Special note: If you find it difficult to get the knee all the way to the floor, simply bring the knee to where you nonetheless feel a gentle stretch through the right waist. With repetition, you likely will find that the body releases into a deeper stretch.

Repeat the cross-body stretch to the other side, bringing the left knee in as you inhale; exhale to help it across the body with the right hand; inhale back to center; exhale to release the leg. Alternate the stretch from side to side a total of 16 times, i.e., each side receives 8 twists.

When you have completed the twisting sequence, lie on your back. Give yourself a moment for a rapturous full-body stretch: With legs long, arms reaching onto the floor over the head. wriggle and stretch yourself as long as possible. Let yourself rock side to side; reach right arm and left leg away from each other, then left arm and right leg. Investigate any areas of tension, and breathe deeply as you move. Spend as much time as you like in this freeing move.

Now, help yourself into your favorite seated pose. When you feel properly aligned, rest the left hand on the left knee, palm down; bring the right thumb to the right nostril, and seal the opening. Inhale long and steady through the left nostril; close the left nostril with the ring finger finger of the right hand, and exhale through the right nostril. Close the right, inhale left; close the left, exhale right. Continue with left inhalation and right exhalation for 3 minutes.

Finally, ease yourself into Svasana, allowing full, deep breathing to return through both nostrils. Rest quietly for at least 5 minutes, allowing your entire system to integrate the ease, openness, and peace that you have created.

Happy Sunday…

Daily Doses–Part Two: Noon Nectar

Call on today’s practice when energy flags, and the mind clouds. Be it 12:00 on the dot, or 11 or 2, midday motivation often needs revivification. Further, if you have been busily tending to other people’s needs or attempting to address several of your own, mental focus may have run amok. The following routine will synchronize right and left brains, and steady a perhaps over-stimulated mind.

By noon, many of us have been sitting at a desk; or driving; or otherwise have been in a position that hampers optimal mobility and meridian flow. Alternatively, your work or commitments may require you to stand for long periods of time, or to lift heavy or multiple items. In that case, stiffness and incomplete breathing may set in. For any of the previous scenarios, the remedy is to stir circulation and mobilize the spine and joints.

To begin, stand with knees slightly, comfortably bent. Inhale the arms overhead as you take a long, deep breath in; as you exhale, bring the arms down in front of you. As the arms lower toward the legs, curl your way toward a forward bend: Let the head hang, then let the shoulders curve forward and down, and finally, move your way through the rest of the spine. When you arrive at an achy or stiff part of the back, remain there, hang, and breathe deeply. Then, roll a bit further down, if possible. Once you have reached your limit, slowly uncurl to return to standing.

This version of a “forward bend” highlights movement through the spine, rather than flexibility of the hips and hamstrings. Roll up and down through this dynamic stretch 3 times.

Now, still standing, inhale the arms straight overhead, and interlace the fingers, index fingers pointing straight up. Here, with the breath suspended, pump the stomach 12 times. As you exhale, lower the arms, and interlace the fingers behind the back, lengthening through the elbows. With the breath out, look up and pump the stomach 12 times. Repeat the breath retentions with stomach pumps 2 more times, for a total of 3 rounds.

Next, come onto all fours. Inhale, and exhale as you round the spine up into Cat flex: Remain here as you inhale and exhale, 3 full rounds. Then, on your fourth inhale, extend (arch) the spine into Cow. Exhale and inhale, 3 times, in the static posture: On your fourth exhale, shift into Downward Dog.

Here, allow your head to hang, and your knees to bend; the heels do not have to touch the floor. If you are adept at the posture, and it feels good to express the full position, feel free to do so. Otherwise, be relaxed and comfortable in the pose. Shake the head; “wag” the hips; walk the heels up and down—move in any way that feels energetically correct for you, in the moment. Breathe deeply as you do so, continuing for 1 minute.

Then, from your version of Downward Dog, walk the hands forward into Plank; if you need to, place the knees on the ground. Whatever you choose, keep the spine long, with the arms and abdominal muscles engaged. With the head in line with the spine, begin Breath of Fire: Pant like a dog through an open mouth for 30 seconds; then, close the mouth and continue Breath of Fire through the nose, still in Plank, for 1 minute.

Now, ease yourself down onto the belly for a few slow, deep breaths. Then, roll over onto your back, arms by the sides, legs long. As you inhale, reach the right arm up and over to the floor behind you; simultaneously, bend the left knee in toward the body. Exhale back to neutral. Inhale to repeat with the left arm and right knee-bend. Alternate back and forth, as if marching on your back, 26 times.

Next, help yourself into a seated posture, on the floor or on a chair. Roll the shoulders backward, luxuriating in the slow, full movement and release of tension. Complete 8 rolls back, then reverse to roll both shoulders forward 8 times.

Then, move the shoulders in opposite directions: As the left shoulder rolls back, the right shoulder rolls forward. Give your brain a few tries to adapt to this left/right hemisphere “reset” move, and then complete 8 oppositional rolls, moving fluidly.

Repeat the move, switching sides: Right shoulder rolls back, left rolls forward. Once you have established the rhythm, complete 8 opposing rolls.

Finally, remaining seated, bring the hands into Hakini Mudra, a gesture for focus and mental efficiency. Touch each fingertip on the right hand to its corresponding tip on the left: The palms remain apart. With the fingertips together, fingers long, and pointing straight up, bring the touching thumb tips to rest against the Third Eye. (The thumbs are extended straight.) 

With eyes closed and gazing to the Third Eye, focus on the sensation of each finger pairing: Inhale, and as you exhale, press the pinky tips together. Then, release, and move to the ring fingers: Inhale, and exhale to apply pressure into the tips. Release to move to the middle fingers. Continue this pattern through all fingertips. 

When you reach the thumbs, inhale: Exhale, and as you press the tips together, also press the pair firmly into the Third Eye. 

Repeat the full sequence, moving through each set of fingers and the thumbs, two more times, to complete 3 rounds. Then, relax the hands onto the knees, left palm up, right palm down. With eyes closed and your natural breathing rhythm re-established, remain here for as long as you like.

Next time: Part Three—Evening Elixir

Silent Sundays: Daily Doses Series, Part One–Morning Medicine

This Silent Sunday begins a new, three-part series, Daily Doses, designed to provide what your body and mind need, at the specific time that they need it. Today, “Morning Medicine” gently guides you into the day. Whether you practice this routine on a day of silence is not crucial; however, do try to engage with this practice before speaking your first words of the day (with one minor exception). The oils, movements, and pranayama expel sleep’s subconscious thoughts and physical stiffness, and leave you clear and empowered for the day to come.

Upon first waking, perhaps even before the eyes open, greet the day: “Good morning,” in a sweet, kind voice meant for a small child or animal. Then, extend both legs into the air at a 90-degree angle to the body. Feel free to slide a pillow or rolled blanket under the hips to aid this, if your “morning back” feels reluctant. Interlace the fingers behind the neck, thumb tips touching, and open the elbows as wide as possible. Breathe deeply through the nose in this abdominal-awakening, lymph-flow-stimulating position for 1 minute.

Then, proceed to where you can lightly rinse your communicative cavities: eyes, mouth, ears. As you softly wipe away the debris of the night with cool water, you prepare yourself to receive Divine guidance. Use this ritual anytime you want to establish effective listening and conscious expression.

Next, collect essential oils and lotion (or carrier oil) to create a vibrationally conducive vessel (i.e., your body) for the practice. I suggest lung- and heart-opening oils for morning: for example, tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or cypress. Combine any one of these with lavender or geranium to establish a calm, open-hearted foundation for breath and movement.

Once you have selected your oil(s), put a few drops into simple lotion or a carrier oil (e.g., jojoba or almond, even plain Vitamin E oil). Gently rub the “medicine” between, and into the tips and webbing of the toes; then, softly, rapidly stroke the top of the foot just below the toes, as well as the balls of the feet. When you have anointed yourself, cover the feet with socks for the next part of practice. 

Come into your usual practice space. Sit wherever and however feels most comfortable to you, ensuring that the spine is upright and aligned; use any necessary bolsters to aid this position. Here, invoke your first prayer or affirmation of the day: With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, inhale long and steady through the nose; as you exhale slowly and completely through gently pursed lips, mentally chant a mantra, prayer, or intentional words or phrases. Repeat as many times as feels right to you, in this moment, on this day.

Now, remove the socks or foot coverings to begin the standing moves. With feet hip-width apart, inhale to carry the arms out  to the sides and up overhead; as you do so, softly bend the knees. Exhale to lower the arms and lengthen through the legs. Next, inhale the arms straight forward and up as you bend the knees; sweep the arms down through the side space as you exhale and straighten the legs. 

Then, inhale to step the left foot wide to the left; bend the knee, toes pointing forward, into this side lunge. As you do so, bring the right arm up alongside the head; keep the torso upright, no lean. Exhale to return to neutral standing. Inhale to repeat the side lunge to the right, with the left arm reaching up; exhale back to center. 

Repeat the two opening arm moves with knee bends, followed by the side lunge couplet, three more times, for a total of 4 rounds. 

Special note: For an additional coordination and focus challenge, alternate which foot steps first in the side-lunge sequence. On the first and third rounds, step to the left first; on the second and fourth rounds, begin by lunging to the right.

Next, still standing, interlace the hands behind the back. Stretch the hands and arms down toward the heels, as you gently arch the spine and look up. Remain here for three full inhales and two exhales: On the third exhale, return up to neutral standing. Repeat this front-body opener two more times for a total of 3 standing back bends, each with 3 breaths.

Now, help yourself onto the all fours for traditional Cat/Cow spinal flexes. You will be here for 3 minutes, so begin slowly. Hone in on the sensations in the shoulders, hips, and belly; as the body warms and releases, move more quickly and fluidly. The breath will naturally speed up as your movement accelerates; nonetheless, complete a full inhale and full exhale with each extension and flexion of the spine, respectively. 

Finally, come into Downward Dog. Select whatever version of this pose serves you on any given morning: heels down or up; heels alternating up and down; knees slightly bent; deep or shallow space between hands and feet. Regardless of how you need to accommodate this posture, commit to remaining calm and strong in the position for 2 minutes, with long, deep breathing. 

Then, slowly walk the feet toward the hands, and ease down to sit. Alternatively, you may move into a chair. When seated, place the hands palms up, on the knees. With eyes closed, gaze up to the Third Eye. Return to your opening mantra or prayer or thought: Inhale deeply, and suspend the breath; mentally chant your words of choice. Repeat the words as many times as possible before you need to exhale. Then, breathe out, and send the thoughts deeply throughout your mind and body. Repeat this breathing, silent chanting pattern at least two more times, or for however long you like.

Happy Sunday…

Next time: Part Two—Noon Nectar 

Silent Sundays: Homestead–Conclusion: Solar-Powered and Heart-Centered

Last week, I began this series, “Homestead,” with a question: What is your psycho-spiritual, interpersonal, most balanced state of being? From where does that particular energy emanate? In sum, what is your Center of Operation, your Homestead?

In Part One, I offered what I perceive to be my personal set-point: Intuition, and its (for me, sometimes elusive) energetic harmonizer, Rootedness. The routine provided the means to connect the First and Sixth chakra, so that the base of the Lower Triangle could readily accommodate the near-tip of the Upper Triangle of chakras.

Then, a few days ago, I explored Creativity and its necessary colleague, Expression. In sum, the practice stimulated and joined the Second and Fifth chakras, so that one’s creative spark could find its way to manifestation.

Today, in conclusion, I suggest what arguably could be the most essential Homestead pairing: the Third and Fourth chakras. Regardless of the energies that seem to come most easily for you, or those that you turn to when challenged, the vibrations that stir from the Solar Plexus and Heart Center are fail-proof for all. When in doubt, turn to your Heart; when beleaguered, delve into the Solar Plexus for confidence and perseverance.

With that in mind, today’s practice may be seen as The One to use as a catch-all boost or remedy. I, for example, who feel most at home in the Sixth Chakra (or Third Eye), often need to stimulate the Earth-based energy of the Root, or First Chakra. Because that vibration is not my strongest, I need Sun Energy to motivate me; and because I want to ensure that any practice resounds with Truth, I need to include the vibration of the Heart Center. Thus, no matter your Homestead—your comfort zone—its energies will be enhanced by this Solar-Powered, Heart-Centered practice.

To begin, lie on your belly. Place the arms in “pitchfork” or “scarecrow” position: upper arms at shoulder level, elbows bent to 90 degrees, with the forearms perpendicular to the upper arms. The palms face down; the head may lie on either cheek.

With eyes closed, begin long, deep breaths through the nose. Because you are prone, breathing requires more effort, as the belly, ribs, and chest must work against the floor. Use this sensed resistance to focus on the physical regions of the Third and Fourth Chakra: from the base of the ribs, to the sternum. With each inhale, consciously draw the intention of awakening energy to these areas; with each exhale, send the gathered vibrations out through the torso and limbs. Continue this opening breath and visualization for 3 minutes.

From lying, press back into Baby Pose. Interlace the hands behind the back, with the index fingers extended and together to form a pointer. Lift the arms as far up and away from the back as possible; extend long through the elbows. This stretch opens and charges the Heart and related meridians that run through the arms. Inhale in the raised-arm position; exhale to lower the arms down to the back. Move as rapidly as you can: inhale arms up, exhale down. Continue for 3 minutes, taking a break as needed.

From Baby Pose, roll up to sit on your heels, and then “stand” on the knees. (Use whatever bolsters or padding you need to make this possible.) With hands on the low back or bottom, inhale to curve back into a modified Camel; exhale back up to neutral. Continue this moving, modified Camel—inhale to arch back, exhale to re-align—for 1 minute.

Then, immediately come forward into a Plank Pose, as in the initial position for push-ups: if necessary, bring the knees to the floor as a modification. Hold this strong, long position, and begin Breath of Fire through the mouth: rapid, equal breaths, like a panting dog. Continue for about 30 seconds, and then close the mouth and continue Breath of Fire through the nose for another full minute.

Immediately return to the Moving Camel position. Standing on the knees, hands placed on the low back or buttocks for support, inhale to arch back, exhale up to neutral. Continue for 1 minute.

Now, instead of Plank, help yourself onto your back. Immediately raise the legs—straight and together—1-2 feet off of the ground: The higher the lift, the less taxing it will be for the low back. Simultaneously, raise the head and shoulders up, reach the arms straight out, and gaze at the feet: Begin Breath of Fire through the nose; continue this Stretch Pose for 1 minute.

From this highly energizing posture, lower the legs. Bend the knees, and keep the feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Raise the hips into Half-Bridge; interlace the hands under the lifted body, and extend the arms toward the feet. Roll the shoulders open as much as possible, feeling the stretch across the chest. Breath fully and deeply, allowing the belly to rise and fall as you do so. Continue for 1 minute.

Next, lower down, and draw the knees in toward the chest. Make yourself into as small and tight of a ball as possible; begin rolling back and forth on the spine for about a minute. This movement helps to consolidate, and then spread the stimulated Solar Plexus and Heart Center energies throughout the system.

Special note: This Ball Roll (appropriately called “Roll Like A Ball” in Pilates, and ubiquitous as a transitional move in Kundalini Yoga) is an exceptionally centering and elucidating exercise on its own. Practice the Ball Roll for 1-3 minutes anytime you want to shed or neutralize unwanted energy, and replace it with calmness and confidence.

From Ball Roll, shift yourself into a seated posture. Place the left hand on the chest, so that the thumb tip and index finger tips reach up to touch the collar bone; the palm is splayed wide against the chest wall, with the other fingers together, relaxed, and pointing to the right.

Place the right hand beneath the left, against the Solar Plexus. The right thumb extends up to touch the lower (pinky-side) edge of the left hand, with the right fingers together, relaxed, and pointing to the left.

With eyes closed and the mudra in place, begin long, deep breathing through the nose. As you breathe, use your mind’s eye to draw an oval of circulation from the right palm into the left, and back into the right: Continue this visualized loop of breath for 3- 7 minutes. When you feel finished, ease into Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Homestead Series–Part Two: Creativity and Its Expression (With a Nod to Dementia)

My mother, aka Old Mom: whole-hearted listener, warm hugger, cookie lover, art appreciator, helper of all helpers, poet.

My mother with dementia, aka New Mom: curious listener, warm hugger, cookie monster, mystified observer, determined participant, wordless warrior.

Two days ago, my mother with dementia became reacquainted with the original—New Mom met Old Mom.

Lest you wonder if I was adopted or have a step-mother, allow me to clarify: The two mothers I describe are the same woman—one body, one heart, one mind, one soul, one poet, one intrepid doer of Life. As are many whose loved one has for whatever reason shifted in their cognitive abilities and psychological states, I am bewildered by the changes in my mother: At this point in her nearly 10 years of waning, altered mental capacity, I think of this woman as New Mom. 

Old Mom was younger; New Mom is old. 

Old Mom could spar or speak without a beat; New Mom shrilly rants or goes silent, watching an invisible ticker tape of vocabulary rise up before her inner eye, then tangle, fade, and disappear.

Old Mom wrote poetry; New Mom reads her old poetry.

Which is what she did the other day.

During our daily phone call, she asked, “Do you have a minute?” She then proceeded to explain that she had written a book: Did I know that? When I assured her that yes, I knew all about the letters and memories of her father that she had compiled nearly 30 years ago, she seemed relieved, albeit somewhat surprised that I knew such a thing about her. She does not always know that this person with whom she speaks on the phone each morning is one of her two daughters. 

I do not mind. I used to, but that was when I thought Old Mom could or would rally and return. That was before New Mom stole my heart, and I became a more-than-willing accomplice to the theft.

And yesterday, when she was eager to share her writings with me, I listened with joy, with soft sadness, and with my head and heart silently thanking God as Mom spoke. I could hear the pride and pleasure in her voice as she read the deeply considered and impeccably chosen words that she had written. That she realized that they had come from her; that they sparked a connection between her remembered past and misty present; that she could discuss without frustration her Old Brain and New Brain… these wonders fed both of us with an abundance of peace and gratitude.

Ironically, the New Mom who no longer can hold a thought or find a word is the Mom who produces the greatest insight into what it means to think, to feel, and to create. New Mom’s “deficits” give Old Mom’s advantages a run for their money: With the loss of vocabulary and short-term memory comes the intriguingly pointed question, “What happens to Creativity when dementia enters the arena?”

That the ability to dream, to connect, and to usher in new modes of Creativity does not die with dementia is ferociously disarming: If one can not decide to create—motivate to create—how, then, does one engage creative energy?

And that is where my own tune changes: Is To Create the same as Being Creative? Does Creation exist without Expression?

If a tree falls in the forest…

In the framework of Old Mom/New Mom, organized mind versus dementia, Creativity oddly leaps to the fore. New Mom’s creativity now manifests as imaginary friends and visitors; as vivid observances of color and shape; and of acute experience of emotion. In some ways, New Mom’s creative essence shines brighter—by megawatts—than Old Mom’s consciously arranged and edited creative productions. 

Creativity can be unconscious; To Create is not. One may be creative without words or forethought or analysis; to become Creation, though, requires a facilitator—Expression.

Creativity exists without thought, and therefore without our bidding. What one often regards as Creativity is, instead, Expression. Creativity thrives despite our conscious awareness of its activity; it becomes Creation when we attach our intention to its release.

For the purposes of this series of practices, then, Creativity must be linked to Expression, actively and consciously. In sum, the Second Chakra must align with the Fifth: Stoke the generative fires, and usher them through the expressive stacks.

The first phase of the practice energizes and coordinates the partnership of the Second and Fifth chakras. The sequence begins on your back, knees bent, feet flat and hip-width apart. Allow the arms to rest on the ground naturally. As you inhale, tip the pelvis forward, creating a slight arch in the lower spine. Simultaneously, let the chin move gently down toward the chest. Upon exhale, roll the pelvis toward you (thereby slightly rounding the low back), as you let the head tip back, opening the front of the neck. 

These movements require focus, as the tucked chin with inhale and pelvic tip forward initially may seem counter-intuitive (as may the curled tail and open throat upon exhale). Stick with it, repeating the inhale/exhale combinations 12 times.

Next, interlace the fingers behind the neck; bring the elbows as close to the floor as possible. Inhale deeply through the nose; exhale powerfully through the mouth, creating a sounded expulsion of air. As you exhale and cleanse the throat, pull the low belly in strongly. Repeat 12 times.

Now, extend both legs into the air, arms resting back down by the sides. Inhale through the nose; exhale to push the pointed feet straight up, lifting the hips slightly. This move thoroughly engages the low-belly muscles: Try not to let the legs swing toward you as the hips push up; rather, push the toes up, as if to pierce the air straight above. Repeat 12 times.

Repeat the entire 3-part sequence (each move with 12 repetitions) 2 more times, for a total of 3.

Then, help yourself into any comfortable seated position. Place both hands on the low belly, one atop the other: Let the thumb of the bottom hand rest in (or on) the navel. With your mind’s eye, trace the following line of the breath. As you inhale fully through the nose, imagine energy moving from the belly button downward into the palms on the belly; exhale slowly through the nose, and guide the breath down between the legs, to the perineum, and back up into the lower spine, behind the navel. 

Continue the long, steady exhale as the breath splits: Send it around to the left and right waists, and allow it to circle all the way back to the initial point of the navel. Inhale to begin again, drawing the breath into the Dan Tien (where the hands rest); exhale calmly and steadily to push this breath through its long journey back to start. Breathe this way 8 times.

Special note: This visualization and breath meditation also soothes moderate lower-back ache. 

Next, place the thumb and index finger of the right hand on the right and left sides of the throat, respectively. With a firm, slow motion, stroke down from the jaw to the collar bone. As the right hand reaches the collar bone, bring the left hand up to continue the downward stroke (left index finger on right side of throat; left thumb on left side). Move the hands in a seamless round, in order to create a continual stimulation of the Throat Chakra.

Finally, rest both hands in the lap, palms up, one nested inside the other, thumb tips touching. As you inhale deeply through the nose, allow the jaw to fall open; simultaneously visualize the breath coming in and down to the Second Chakra. The exhale becomes the mantra, “Aum.”

Special note: Often, this is written as “Om”: However, the threes letter of Aum convey the desired 3-part sounding—Ah/Oh/Mm.

As you exhale, chant, “Aum,” slowly dissecting the mantra into 3 parts. By the end of the third sound (“mm”), the mouth will be gently closed. Inhale to gently drop the jaw and send the breath into the Creative energy center of the Second Chakra; exhale to chant slowly and steadily, feeling the vibration through the expressive Throat Chakra as the mouth closes softly. Continue for 3 minutes. If you like, settle into Svasana for a few minutes of rest and integration of energy.

Next Time: Homestead—Part 3: Solar-Powered and Heart-Centered

Silent Sundays: Homestead Series Part 1: Intuition and Practicality

Today’s Silent Sunday introduces a series of practices designed to hone in on your natural instincts and comfort zones: your “Homestead.” 

Intuition typically guides my decision-making, creative sparks, and interpersonal interactions. It is my home base from which to deal with all things earthbound, and through which I communicate most effectively with God and the Universe. I began to wonder about the “homesteads” of others: What energetic quality or mental attribute functions as their reliable, familiar, and most powerful ally? When uprooted by circumstance or emotion, what inner sensibility draws them “home?” What is their “stead,” their core of stability?

The series thus opens with a practice inspired by intuition. To fly solo with intuition, however, can leave one without an energetic anchor or point of reference: Intuition needs its Root companion.

And just as the Third Eye is balanced and empowered by the First Chakra, the inverse is true: Those who operate mostly in accordance with earthly energies and mores may be grounded and stable. Without the insight and energetic supply of the Sixth Chakra, however, they can become overly concerned with material wealth and ambition—the survival instinct run amok.

Consequently, today’s routine establishes a communication and support system between intuition and practicality. The Third Eye and Root Chakra are activated, connected, and harmonized.

We begin with simple, incremental spinal flexes and chest openers. This warm-up also is useful as a meditation and/or pranayama preparatory practice: The stimulation of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid promotes focus and clarity; and the lung-opening provides the optimal environment for breath work.

Seated in your favorite aligned posture, either on a chair or on the floor, close the eyes: Turn your inner gaze upward to focus strongly on the Third Eye. Place both hands on the lower belly, one over the other. As you inhale, tilt the pelvis forward and down; exhale to gently tip it back and up. The movement will create a discernible, yet small arching and rounding in the lower spine. Continue for 1 minute.

Now, as you continue to rock the pelvis forward and back, arching and rounding, include more of the spine. Move the hands to the knees; this grip will help you move the spinal flex into the thoracic spine, thus including the ribcage. Deepen and lengthen the breath as you do so; continue for another minute.

Next, bring the hands to the shoulders: fingers in front, thumbs behind. Inhale as you draw the bottom tips of the shoulder blades toward each other; exhale as you round the upper back and try to touch the elbows together in front of you. Keep the upper arms parallel to the ground as you inhale to stretch the chest wall; exhale to spread the upper back. Continue for 1 minute.

Then, prepare to fire up the energetic reservoirs of the First and Sixth chakras. Place the hands next to the hips (on the chair or the floor). Inhale to press down into the hands and lift your bottom up a few inches; squeeze Root Lock (Mula Bandha) as you do so. 

Special note: This pranic “lock” is achieved in much the same way as a Kegel exercise. Here, though, squeeze the anus, sex organs, and navel point simultaneously.

Use the squeezing action as a pump to push Root energy up through the entire chakra system. With your mind’s eye, guide the collected energy up the spine and into the Third Eye throughout the long inhalation through the nose. Upon a powerful burst of an exhale through the open mouth, drop your tush back down with an assertive, but safe jolt. Repeat a total of 12 times.

Now that you have both isolated and connected the Root and Third Eye, you will ensure their harmonious partnership. Come to standing, feet comfortably apart. Bend the knees slightly to come into a moderate squatting position. Place the arms into Genie gesture: both arms bent at the elbows at chest level, one forearm resting atop the other.

Then, inhale to stand up straight, opening the arms to the sides at 60 degrees, as if opening the Heart Center to the Universe. Exhale back down into the squat with Genie Arms. If you like, add a silent, whispered, or fully vocalized mantra: Sat Nam, Wahe Guru [sut nahm, wah-hay goo-roo]. Begin grounded and centered with “Sat Nam;” rise up, tall and open-hearted with “Wahe Guru.” Complete 26 squat-to-stand moves with corresponding arms and optional mantra.

Finally, return to seated. With the thumb tips and pinky tips touching on each hand, close the eyes.The mudra enhances intuitive communication: Use its energy to imbue and balance the Root upon inhale; visualize the breath flowing into the First Chakra.

Then, shift the fingers to Rudra Mudra: thumb tips touch their respective first and third fingertips. As you configure this gesture, exhale with the gaze turning intently up to the Third Eye. This mudra will help you use intuition for practical, as well as spiritual purpose and benefit.

Move back and forth between the mudras and closed-eye focal points. Inhale with pinky and thumb tips, mind on the Root Chakra; exhale with Rudra Mudra, gazing into the the Third Eye. Continue for 3-5 minutes. Then, settle into Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…

Still to Come in the Homestead Series: Part 2—“Create and Express;” and Part 3—“Solar-Powered and Heart-Centered”