Energy Moves to Carry You Through…

The past couple of weeks have been full of meetings, appointments, surprises from the Universe, and social interactions: lots going on. Throughout this busy phase, I frequently called upon some of the following movements for a push or a pull over walls of enervation. Each move is a stand-alone technique that may be used at any point throughout the day: However, you may also string together a sequence, in order to create a short routine with even more clout.

Regardless of how you choose to use these ideas, I suggest that you begin with a lying-down preparation, and close with a seated pranayama and mudra. Again, you could use this recommended “warm-up” and “cool-down” as a practice unto itself; the two will increase circulation, balance energies, and improve focus.

First, to prepare, lie on your back. Lengthen your arms overhead as if doing a full-body stretch in bed. Push firmly out through your heels as you stretch the fingers in the opposite direction. Then, leaving the left arm as is, sweep the right arm down along the floor; reach the right hand as far down toward the right foot as possible; allow your body to bend into this reach, opening the left side body. Then, bring the right arm back up along the ear, and sweep the left arm down to reach and bend, opening the right side body. When finished, realign yourself, and do another full-body stretch.

Next, for the first move, raise your arms and legs up to 90 degrees, into “Dead Bug” position. Shake and flop your limbs and body for a full minute. Then, inhale deeply, and lower the right arm and left leg as you exhale. Inhale again, and as you exhale, simultaneously lower the left arm and right leg. Inhale to raise the left leg and right arm back up to 90 degrees; exhale to lower. Inhale to raise the right leg and left arm; exhale to lower. Repeat 6 more times on each side for a total of 8 sets.

Now, turn on to your left side. Raise the right leg, and grasp the big toe with your first two fingers and thumb. If you can not do with without bending the knee, hold behind the thigh or shin; the leg should be as straight as your ability allows. Prop yourself up on your left elbow, and rest your head in your left hand. Inhale deeply and powerfully through your nose, and exhale forcefully, with a loud whoosh, through your mouth. Continue this Cannon Breath for 1 minute.

Next, help yourself up into a standing position, feet comfortably and firmly apart. With your hands on your hips, begin to circle your torso to the right (clockwise); as you become less stiff and more familiar with the movement, increase the depth and width of the circles. Breathing deeply in and out through the nose, circle as far back, to the sides, forward, and down as you can. Continue for 2 minutes, then reverse the circle for another 2 minutes. This Master Move from kundalini yoga is a thorough cleanse for the Liver, and furthers the work begun in the previous position with Cannon Breath.

For the final move, bend forward and hold your ankles, shins, or behind your knees, whatever your body allows. Keeping the head in line with the spine (i.e., try not to crank it forward; rather, maintain length in the back of the neck), begin to walk all around your space. This Elephant Walk challenges the heart, due to the inverted position; further, because the head typically prefers to “be above,” or dominate Heart energy, this move encourages mental and emotional expansion and refreshment. Although walking in this manner will likely feel awkward at first, stay with it for 3 minutes; change directions, stride length, and pace, and let a sense of playful curiosity guide your movement.

In order to balance your energies after Elephant Walk, slowly roll up to stand quietly. Raise your arms above your head, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for about 30 seconds. Then, lower your arms, breathe in traditional standing Tadasana for another 30 seconds, and then help yourself down into your preferred seated position on the ground.

To close your practice, and ensure that you are in a state of centeredness, bring your fingers into Rudra Mudra on each hand: Touch the thumb, index, and ring finger tips together; the other two fingers retain their natural length. Place the backs of the hands on the knees, and close your eyes, gazing inwardly up at the Third Eye. Inhale fully, exhale completely, and remain with the breath out for 4-6 seconds, or counts. Inhale deeply again, exhale fully, and again, sit with the empty breath for about 6 seconds: less if you feel uncomfortable, a couple of beats longer if that feels right. Continue this pranayama for 1-3 minutes, then breathe normally for another minute before coming into Svasana. Rest in this Corpse Pose for at least 3 minutes, longer if you have the time.

Silent Sundays: Turn Your Day Around

Today’s Silent Sunday practice uses mudra, mantra, and simple qi gong-based movement to reset a mood or mindset gone awry. On those days when there seems to be no right side of the bed to exit; or when you just can not seem to “synch up” with the beat of the day, this routine will help. I designed the four-part mudra for the first part of the practice to reflect the shifting, perhaps unusual energies around you that may contribute to a sense of uneasiness or restlessness.

To begin, sit on your heels, if possible. If you prefer to sit with crossed legs, be sure to pull the flesh of the buttocks to the back and side; this will ensure that your sit bones root firmly into the ground. First, bring your hands into traditional Prayer Mudra an inch or two in front of the Heart center, forearms parallel to the ground. Then, move the palms away from each other, while maintaining contact with the middle fingertips: The hands and wrists will be in line with the forearms, palms facing down. Next, bring the backs of the hands to touch, so that the fingers point down. Finally, turn the fingertips toward you, and keep rotating the hands until you create a “reverse” Prayer Mudra in front of the Heart (palms facing the sides, fingers pointing up).

As you move through the four stages of the mudra, consciously breathe with the transitions. Inhale as you begin in Prayer; exhale to spread the hands, palms down; inhale to turn the fingers downward; and exhale in Reverse Prayer. The third phase may feel awkward at first; we naturally resist downward-directed moves upon inhalation. As you continue the steady shifts, your mind will begin to accommodate the discomfort, eventually finding a flow.

Along with the 4-count mudra, silently chant “Sa Ta Na Ma.” This is a oft-used mantra, and speaks to the eternal cycle of Life. As your hands twist and turn, the mantra reminds us that earthly life is full of those contortions: When we consciously engage with the ups and downs, and ins and outs, our nervous system learns to remain steady despite the circuitous route. So, in Prayer, chant Sa; palms down, chant Ta; fingers down, chant Na; and in Reverse Prayer, chant Ma. Continue the moving mudra with mantra for 5 minutes.

When you are ready, briskly shake and rub the hands. You may feel the need to do some wrist, shoulder, and head rolls to offset the demanding hand work of the mudras. Then, come to a standing position. Inhale as you raise the arms up through the side space; exhale to interlace the fingers overhead, and turn the hands to press the palms up toward the sky. Inhale again as you stretch and lengthen upward, then exhale to sweep the arms back down to your sides. Repeat 7 more times, alternating the interlace of the fingers each time. (If you naturally laced the first time with the right index finger nestled between the left index and middle, your next lacing will be with the left index between the first two fingers of the right hand.)

Now, widen your stance, so that the feet are about a yard apart. Bend your knees slightly, if necessary, and come into a forward bend. Reach your hands back as far as possible between your legs, palms flat on the ground, fingers facing back: Lift your head slightly, as if to look forward. Again, this may be an unfamiliar position, so tend to the needs of your neck. If necessary, allow the head to hang. Begin Breath of Fire through an open mouth (as if panting like a dog), eyes softly closed. Continue for 1-3 minutes.

From the wide-leg forward bend, gently ease yourself onto all fours. If it feels good, do a few Cat/Cows, or fluid undulations. Then, shift into Baby Pose: Place the backs of your hands on the low back, one hand resting in the palm of the other. (If your shoulder flexibility does not allow this, rest the hands on the ground by your feet, palms up.) Breathe deeply here for 1-3 minutes. Then, help yourself into Svasana. Rest quietly for at least 5 minutes.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Pranayama Sequence to Ride the Full Moon Wave

Every month, the Full Moon caps off a steady rise of energy. The surge is felt most keenly 3-5 days prior to the peak; during the hours of complete fullness, the gravitational pull of the moon causes each of our 10 energy bodies—from the physical to the most subtle—to vibrate with the highly stimulated currents.

While some of us may feel the rush as a form of adrenalized excitement or motivation, others may find that sleep is disturbed, anger rises more quickly, and focus is derailed. Typically, there will be a mix of positive effects and uncomfortable reverberations. Today’s Silent Sunday falls one day before the Full Moon: Thus, I offer a pranayama sequence designed to honor your energetic levels as they are in the moment; then, the technique imbues the coursing waves of energy with a slowing and softness that tempers the Full Moon effect.

As I often suggest, begin your practice with some movement that reflects your current state of physical and mental energy. For example, you may want to lightly jog or double-hop from side to side if you feel revved up; or perhaps you need to shake and vocalize to release pent-up nervous energy. Once you have achieved a sense of grounded release, practice a few spinal flexion exercises (e..g, Cat/Cow or Sufi grinds) in a seated position.

With your body prepared to sit, enter your preferred seated pose for breath work and meditation. Then, bring your arms straight up from the shoulders, palms facing each other. Separate the arms away from each other, opening them about 30 degrees to either side: The arms will be in a V-shape, palms still facing each other. In this position, begin Breath of Fire. Remember, you may need to start by panting like a dog (breathing in and out through the mouth); then, once you have established a steady, rapid breath of equal inhale and exhale, close the mouth and continue through the nose. Practice Breath of Fire for 3 minutes.

Your energy is now at its highest, mimicking the rise and peak of the Moon force. To begin aiding a move toward a more refined and neutral vibration, lower your arms. Interlace the fingers and allow the thumb tips to touch. Place this variation of Venus Lock a few inches in front of your neck, at the Throat (or Fifth) Chakra; bend the elbows out to the sides at the same height. With the fingers still linked and thumb tips touching, spread the mudra open, so that the palms face down. 

In the above position, begin to breathe deeply, in and out of the nose. Continue for a minute or so, ensuring that each inhale and each exhale reaches completion. Then, in order to regain what may have become scattered focus during the days of increasing energy, gaze downward as if to look at your chin. Be aware that you do not tip the head down; only the eyes gaze downward, through slightly open lids. Now, attach a count to your deep, full breaths: Inhale for 6, exhale for 8, with no retention or suspension. Continue for 3 minutes.

Finally, place both hands on the knees, palms down. With eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, begin Sitali breath: Inhale through your curled tongue (like a straw), and exhale deeply through the nose. Allow the exhale to extend naturally; ideally, the exhale will be a couple of seconds longer than the inhale. (If you can not curl the tongue, slightly part the lips, and breathe in through that slight aperture; maintain the exhale through the nose.) Continue for 3 minutes.

To close your practice, take a slightly inverted version of Svasana. On your back, place your buttocks as close to the edge of a couch or chair as possible. Bend the legs, and place your lower legs on the seat. Allow your arms to rest on the floor, about 45 degrees from the body. Close your eyes, and let the breath come into a quieted, easy flow. Rest here for 5-11 minutes.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: From There, to Here, and Beyond…

Two of the first tenets I ever learned about writing were: 1) Write what you know; and 2) Let some time pass before addressing a personal experience. Most often, these suggestions prove useful. When one’s writing springs from spiritual reflection, however, the first principle may benefit from a bit of poetic license: “knowing” becomes intuiting, sensing, believing, etc.

The second guideline, then, may need to cede to its spiritual relative: discernment. The ability to determine whether a spiritual challenge or revelation is meant to be shared is a primary characteristic of spiritual maturation. Further, while some insights may extend to humanity as a whole, some are specific to one’s personal evolution. And of course, sometimes a lesson learned may prove valuable to oneself, as well as to others.

On this Silent Sunday, I contemplate these matters with regard to a recent spate of challenges. My rumination led me to realize that said recent events threw—simultaneously—my past, present, and possible future into sharp relief. I was able to recognize how far I have come; what still needs work; and that my growth depends on continued devotion, discipline, and never-ending faith.

Rather than relay the circumstances and my thoughts concerning them, I offer an idea for your own contemplation and meditation. Additionally, the following mudras may help to reveal your version of: Where You Were; Where You Are; and Where You May Go.

As you begin to turn inward, mindful of your query, try the Mudra for Discernment. On each hand, touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger. The union of these energies helps to ground you in your present state, while easing any sense of constraint or burden that may prohibit patience and clarity. You may choose whether to turn the palms down or up as they rest on your knees: If you choose up, close the eyes to gaze at the Third Eye; if down, slightly open the eyes to gaze at the tip of the nose. Breathe deeply, and allow competing thoughts to step aside for your intended personal exploration. Continue opening to your query for as long as you need. When you begin to gain a sense of the trajectory that has been your earthly life, release the mudra, stretch a bit, and prepare for to meditate upon your awareness.

The move from contemplation of a specific thought or question, to unfettered meditation is similar to the shift from manual operation of a car’s pedal and wheel, to Cruise Control. You continue toward the same destination, but you free yourself from specific input. In meditation, you quietly allow the move from a conscious focal point, to expanded Higher Consciousness. You release your mind from earthly pulls, and ease into the sway of the Universe. 

To help with this shift, I created the following mudra. In your preferred set-up for meditation, touch the thumb tip on each hand to the palm-side base of their respective pinky fingers. Bend the left arm at the elbow, tucking the elbow down by your side. With the forearm pointing up, crook the left wrist back about 30 degrees; the palm is open, with the four fingers together, the thumb stretched across the palm to the base of the pinky.

With the same mudra on the right hand, stretch the right arm forward and up to angle of 60 degrees. There is no bend in the wrist, so the palm naturally angles down a bit, due to the angle of the arm. With both arms presenting the Mudra to Intuit through Time, close your eyes to gaze upward at the Third Eye. Breathe deeply in the position for at least 5 minutes, working your way toward an 11-minute mediation with mudra.

Happy Sunday… 

Silent Sundays: Remedy for Persistent Physical and Mental Tension

Today’s routine was borne from a couple of days of accumulated stress that culminated in this morning’s (unplanned) 12:45 am wake-up. The combination of overthinking and physical challenge resulted in a tension headache, inability to sleep peacefully, and a flare-up of a slow-to-heal injury. Perhaps you have had your own version of “too much, too fast” that left you wondering what to address first: mental or physical discomfort? Should you find yourself in such a predicament, the following blueprint of a self-treatment session may help.

I refer to this Silent Sunday routine as a “blueprint,” because the nature of each person’s physical or mental woes is inherently unique. Thus, you may intuit the need to use different essential oils than the ones I suggest here; or you may gravitate toward a series of postures other than those I chose. Very much like variations on a recipe, the method remains fairly set; the ingredients or seasonings, however, may differ somewhat according to personal taste.

What I recognized almost immediately in my pursuit of feeling better was that I would not be able to still and meditate until I had soothed the tension in my head and neck, and calmed the nagging pain in my hip and leg. So, the first step was a traditional self-massage, enhanced with essential oils. To a combination of jojoba and Vitamin E oil, I added thyme and geranium; this mix I applied liberally from knee to hip. Wherever you ache, knead and stroke, gently or firmly, for at least 5 minutes.

I then used the nearly fail-proof headache and tension remedy of peppermint and lavender oils. This elixir went onto my feet and ankles, and then my neck and temples. Again, use this time to deeply focus on and attend to your wellness: Self-care in this respect becomes a meditation in its own right. As you manifest your healing intention and direct it accordingly, your mental and physical bodies align; balance resumes, and deeper contemplation, prayer, or mediation once again becomes accessible.

Once I had settled the most overt tension, I assumed a prone position on the ground. This is where your “blueprint” may differ: The crucial element to this practice is that you follow your body’s lead; akin to Authentic Movement (which I have discussed in previous writings), the postures should emanate from inner rhythms and thought-free directives.

From prone, I entered Sphinx Pose: upper body in a gentle arch, supported on the forearms. Then, after some wiggles and undulations, I lowered the body down. Next, bending the right knee, I reached the left hand back to hold the right foot. With the right hand in Gyan Mudra (index finger to thumb tip) and placed on the low back, I slightly lifted the right leg off the ground. After several deep breaths, I switched sides.

Next came Rocking Bow. In classic Bow, begin to rock back and forth: inhale to rock back, exhale to rock forward. Continue for 30-60 seconds.

Baby Pose came as a welcome respite after a round of front-body opening. Remain in the posture for as long as you like, breathing deeply.

Then, I practiced a variation of Bharadvajrasana: seated, left knee bent with left foot outside left hip on the floor; right knee bent, with right foot into groin area. (Both knees are on the floor, pointing to the right.) First, lean to the left, opening the right side body. Follow this side bend with a twist to the right: left hand on right knee, right hand on the floor behind to assist in maintaining a long spine. Find your comfort zone in which to breathe into the twist for a full minute. Change the position of the legs, so that the knees point left: repeat the side bend and twist to the right and left, respectively.

Finally, I rolled up into Shoulder Stand. There, I allowed my legs to swim through the air in all directions, unearthing and releasing any remnants of tension. If you choose to do the pose, feel free to remain in the posture for however long you like. 

Then, I rolled down, moving into Karnapidasana. (Typically, the latter posture would follow Plow, or Halasana; however, I felt the immediate need to bend my knees and snuggle them in next to their respective ears.) If you prefer, or your body requires, skip Shoulder Stand, Plow, and/or Karnapidasana: Instead, simply lie on your back with legs in the air at a 90-degree angle; you will nonetheless reap calming benefits from the modified inversion.

Next, to ensure that your replenished brain and neck feel balanced, rise up to sit in an easy crossed-leg pose. With arms behind you and fingers interlaced, ease into a simple forward bend; aim to place the chin on the floor. If this is not possible for you, release the hands from behind; place the elbows on the floor in front of you, forearms bent up to 90 degrees. Bend forward to rest your chin in the cup of your hands, thus creating a gentle counterpose to the previous inversion sequence.

You may use this full routine as a practice unto itself; or perhaps you will feel sufficiently refreshed that a longer practice beckons. Regardless, rest easy: You have tended to your own well-being, and paved the way toward a…

Happy Sunday… 

Silent Sundays: Reclaim Your Mental and Emotional Balance

Today’s Silent Sunday practice develops the Neutral Mind, which is the fourth of the ten physical, mental, and energetic bodies that comprise one’s human form. I have found that attention to this aspect of individual capacity helps to alleviate anxiety and anger: The Neutral Mind promotes balanced perspective. When I find myself veering away from grounded clarity, the ability to connect with others or the Divine is unattainable: That inability furthers feelings of helplessness or frustration. The ability to pull back from an emotional surge not only maintains inner peace, it ensures that one’s higher consciousness remains accessible.

One thought that I find helpful to remember is that anger arises when one is unable to control circumstances or outcomes: While seemingly obvious, this idea is easy to forget when in the throes of distracting emotions. Conscious recollection of this fundamental concept reminds me that I always have the potential to control my reactions and responses. As clarity returns, the move to a rooted center ensues: Connection to the Divine and its eternal grace once again becomes possible.

To begin, sit down and lean back on your hands, tilting the torso about 30 degrees. With the left leg remaining long on the floor, raise the right to an angle of 60 degrees. For the next 3 minutes, keep the leg aloft as you do Breath of Fire. Then, switch sides for another 3 minutes.

Now, lean back onto your elbows, which lowers the body about 30 more degrees. Again keeping the left leg on the floor, raise the right 30 degrees off of the floor. Repeat Breath of Fire for 2 minutes. Then, switch legs; continue Breath of Fire for an additional  2 minutes.

Next, lie on your back. You may keep your arms by your sides, or place the hands under the hips to support the low back. As you inhale, simultaneously lift the left leg 30 degrees off the floor, as the right leg rises to an angle of 60 degrees. Exhale to lower both legs, so that they reach the ground together. Then, inhale as the right leg rises 30 degrees, and the left lifts 60 degrees. Exhale both legs down, reaching the ground simultaneously. Repeat the sequence two more times.

Following the leg lifts, bring both knees in toward the chest; wrap your arms around your legs, creating a compact ball. Raise your head, so that the now goes between the knees. Engage Breath of Fire for 30-60 seconds. Then, ease the head back onto the floor. Still in your tight ball, breathe deeply for one more minute.

Finally, come into a seated crossed-leg posture. I created the following mudra to connect one’s intuition to the energy of the Heart Chakra. On each hand, touch the pinky fingertip to the thumb tip. Then, connect those two configurations together at their tips. Join the remaining three fingertips on each hand together: right index to left index; middle to middle; and ring finger to ring fingertip. Situate the conjoined pinky/thumb mudra at the level of the Heart Center, with the other connected fingers pointing upward. With the eyes ever-so-slightly open, gaze down toward the tip of the nose. Be mindful that the head does not tilt forward; maintain a long, aligned neck and spine. Breathe deeply for 3-5 minutes.

To transition to Anjali Mudra, or Prayer Pose, cover your eyes with your hands. Open the eyes into the darkness of your palms: Take a minute or so to roll the eyes, look up and down, and side to side. This will help to relieve any ache that may have developed from the sustained nose gaze of the first meditation.

Then, bring the palms together in front of the heart in a traditional Prayer position. Make sure that the forearms remain parallel to the ground, and that the thumbs press firmly against the sternum, with the other fingers together and pointing straight up. With eyes closed, gaze upward to the Third Eye. Again, breathe deeply for 3-5 minutes before slowly lying down for a few minutes of svasana.

Happy Sunday…

Pressure’s Off: Make Friends With Your Breath Again

In previous posts, I have suggested pranayama techniques (breath work) to ease one’s way through stressful circumstances. Today’s post, however, offers a few pranayama exercises that will help you reconnect to your breath after the “threat” has passed. Think of it as the cool-down to a tough workout: You would likely devote time and effort to ensure that your muscles are ready to roll for your next training session or outdoor activity. Your breath needs the same attention. Without adequate encouragement, it may remain short or shallow post-challenge; what it needs, though, is focused technique and a few (or several—your choice) minutes to reconnect with your physical, mental, and emotional bodies.

The initial phase is that of awareness. Choose a seated position that allows your spine to be long and aligned with your shoulders relaxed. Often, it is suggested that one place the hands on the Dan Tien (area just below the navel) when connecting to the breath. In this instance, however, I suggest the following hand placement: one palm in the upper chest, so that the fingers and thumb lie on the left and right side of the collar bone; and the other palm against the upper belly/solar plexus area. Allow your arms to rest easily against your body, and breathe as your own state of being dictates. With your eyes closed, ease into a gentle awareness of the pace and quality of your breath at the moment.

After about a minute of reacquainting yourself with your breath, let your hands relax into your lap, palms up. Consciously begin to deepen and lengthen each inhale and exhale. Begin moderately, inhaling for 4 counts, exhaling for 4. After a few rounds, lengthen the inhale to 6, keeping the exhale to 4 counts. Continue for about 3-5 full rounds. Finally, spend at least a minute inhaling for 8 counts, and exhaling for 8 counts.

Next, fully re-establish your breath’s ability to effect change in various aspects of your being. When one uses the breath in conjunction with internal energy paths and mentally directed visualization, multiple Bodies of the 10 Bodies (as conceived in kundalini yoga) are stimulated. For this final phase of “befriending” your breath, lie on your back with eyes closed. Begin simply with a deep inhale: As your rib cage expands, envision this central area as the round ball of a child-like drawing of the sun; as you exhale, send the breath radiating out of this center as the multiple beams emanating from the “sun ball.” Inhale again into the center of the sun; exhale outward into umpteen directions, just as sunshine beams toward the earth.

Now, do the same thing with each limb. Inhale into the sun’s center; exhale down and out through one leg, all the way past and out of the sole of the foot. Inhale to draw breath back into the sole and up the leg, all the way to the sun’s center; exhale to refill this central breath “port.” Repeat with the other leg, and then the arms.

Finally, roll to one side to rise to a seated posture. Ideally, you will sit on your heels in Rock Pose; feel free to use whatever pillow or bolster support you need. Otherwise, sit in an easy crossed-leg pose. In either case, place your hands palms down on your thighs or knees, wherever they feel most natural and relaxed. With eyes closed and gazing at your Third Eye, breathe simply, fully, and steadily. Note the change in the quality of your breath since you began his practice but minutes ago. As you discern subtle differences in your physical, mental, and energetic states, know that you can call upon this routine whenever you feel a need to regroup or recharge, by way of the breath.

Silent Sundays: Quick-start Practice for Busy Mornings

Sometimes even a Silent Sunday needs to begin sooner, rather than later: no time for a second cup of coffee or tea; no time to indulge in a week’s worth of news or that can’t-put-it-down book; and no time for a lengthy practice or meditation. Today, I created a short routine that will rein in your focus, balance your energy, and provide plenty of oomph to propel you into your busy day.

First, in a standing position, do a sensory scan as you lightly bounce or shake: Where are you tense, tight, or sore? Do you feel wired, lethargic, calm, anxious? After 30-60 seconds of this inventory, come onto all fours. Begin cat/cow spinal undulations: Continue with the traditional inhale as you curl the tailbone up and stretch the chest forward; exhale as you round the spine and let the head hang. After 3-5 rounds of this variation, begin to roll, curl, circle, arch, and twist in any direction, through any plane, that evolves organically as you breathe deeply. Continue for 30 seconds.

Next, sit back into an easy crossed-leg posture. Bring your arms up to 60 degrees, forming a large V-shape with your head as the center base point. The palms face each other, and the fingers are extended, yet together. Begin to close and open the hands, so that the fingertips strike the Venus Mound (thumb pads). When the fingertips are stimulated in this way, the brain snaps into alertness. Breathe quickly through your nose, creating a near-Breath of Fire: inhale to close, exhale to open the hands; you should feel the belly “jumping” as you breathe in rapid, equal inhales and exhales. Continue for 30 seconds.

Finally, rise to stand again. For Buttocks Bounce, which is an excellent, all-over body alignment technique, step your feet about a yard apart; the distance depends entirely on your height and structure. As you bend forward, bend the knees deeply, and reach your arms back between your legs, fingers facing behind. Set your position, so that the knees do not push forward past the heels, and the thighs are parallel to the ground. Shift as your torso as needed, in order to have it also parallel to the ground. Keep your head in line with your 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.

To complete this quick, ready-for-anything routine, slowly come into a rooted, aligned standing pose. Inhale as you open your arms wide, bringing them overhead: Look up at your hands with the breath suspended for a few beats. Then, exhale powerfully through your mouth, as you bring the arms back down, shaking them vigorously as you do so.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Clear Your Energy Fields

Today’s practice offers a way to cut through blockages, stagnancies, and distortions in your surrounding energy fields. Often, I have addressed energy deficiencies, excesses, or detrimental build-ups in the physical, mental, or spiritual bodies. Today, however, speaks to the external circulation and vibration of energy that comprises each person’s aura and magnetic field.

One’s personal energy “bubble” can become cluttered in much the same way as a home or room. Sometimes, one may feel trapped or agitated, due not to an internal imbalance, but because the surrounding air has become heavy with old or negative energy. When one focuses on the active elimination of field “pollutants,” the cleared space allows one to function optimally.

I created the following routine, so that it may be done at any point throughout the day. With an emphasis on powerful torso and arm movements, it also serves as an excellent antidote to lengthy computer stints or car rides: Circulation is stimulated, alertness increases, and overall energy improves. You will be moving through each plane of the surrounding energy fields, thereby ensuring a complete “de-cluttering” of your space.

To begin, stand with feet comfortably apart, so that you feel grounded and aligned. Raise your arms up alongside the ears, aiming to keep them as close to the ears as possible throughout the movement. Inhale as you ever-so-slightly arch back, and then exhale as you bend forward to bring the hands to the ground. You may find that you need to slightly bend your knees, and/or you may not be able to touch the floor at first. Regardless, continue this kundalini “Miracle Bend” at a steady pace: inhale up to stand tall and into a gentle back bend; exhale as you bend forward, keeping the arms next to the ears at all times. Continue for 3 minutes, moving gently and slowly at first, and then noticing how your body opens and becomes more fluid.

Next, still standing, extend your arms to the sides at shoulder level. With palms facing forward, curl the fingers into a fist, with the thumbs out and pointed up. Inhale as your bring the right arm down and the left up, maintaining a straight line from one hand to the other. Exhale to move the right arm up and left arm down. Continue this see-saw motion with the same breath pattern for 3 minutes. Move as swiftly and steadily as you can, increasing the breath rate as you pick up the pace. Breathe and move powerfully, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

When you have completed the clearing of the sagittal plane, stand with your hands on your waist: Breathe deeply with your eyes closed for 5-8 full breaths. Then, open your eyes for the next part of the routine. Softly bend your knees, keeping the spine long and the feet rooted. Bring the elbows into the ribs, bending the arms at the elbows: palms face up with hands in a light fist. Inhale as you “punch” the right hand forward (palm now down) from the shoulder at heart level; as you do so, the left elbow pulls back. The left arm remains bent and the fist turns palm down. 

As you exhale, push the left hand forward with an open palm, face down; the right palm also faces down, hand open, as the elbow pulls back, bringing the hand in close to the upper ribs. Continue to inhale as the right hand pushes forward in a fist, as the left hand in a fist pulls back; and exhale to open the hands as the left hand moves forward and the right pulls back. This is a powerful balancing technique for your pranic body; it serves double-duty as a clearing technique for your coronal energy field. Continue the movement for 3 minutes.

Next, after a short standing rest, return your arms to shoulder level, arms reaching out to the sides. Inhale, and then double-exhale (short-long) as you twist the entire torso to the right. As you twist, the left arm bends in, so that the hand comes into a light fist in front of the Heart center, palm down; simultaneously, the right hand opens, palm down. Inhale as you move back to center; exhale to twist left, bending the right arm to bring the fist in front of the heart, and opening the left palm, face down. Continue the twist for 3 minutes.

Special note: To safeguard your knees and lower back, lift the left heel to come up on the ball of the left foot as you twist to the right. Allow the hips and knees and feet to turn slightly in the direction of the twist. When turning to the left, come onto the ball of the right foot to allow it to move with the left twist.

To close your practice, stand quietly with the eyes closed, hands on the waist: Breathe deeply for at least 8 full breaths. Then, release the arms to the sides. Inhale as you circle the arms up through the side space; as they come overhead, turn the palms down, fingertips facing each other. Exhale, as you draw the hands down in front of you, downward-facing palms helping to smooth and settle the now-cleared energy. Repeat two more times, inhaling the arms up, and exhaling to slowly, steadily bring the hands down in front of you. 

Now, you may choose to lie quietly in svasana for a few minutes. Or, you may prefer to stand and enjoy the sense of opening and balance in your surroundings. Regardless, give your personal energies a chance to resonate with the refreshed energetic fields around you.

Happy Sunday… 

Silent Sundays: What Your Life Becomes–Conclusion: Create and Nurture the Courage to Change

In the first two installments of this three-part series, I addressed how “what one pays attention to is what one’s life becomes.” For me, this idea provokes thoughts of Nature versus Nurture, and of Fate versus Free Will. If, however, one replaces “versus” with “and,” the idea of attention as the catalyst for substantiating one’s life yields to a broader, more varied selection: The innate ability to harmonize with universal energies, and the capacity to evolve despite great odds exist in each of us. When we begin to tap into the wealth of navigational tools within our subtler bodies, the way through one’s particular life becomes clearer.

The previous two practices honed in on chakras One, Three, Five, and Six. Today’s techniques awaken the Second and Fourth chakras: Number Two is the home of creative energy, that from which generative forces and fresh ideas spring; the Heart Chakra houses compassion and courage. Without self-awareness and fearless faith, creativity may go awry or wither for lack of confidence and positivity.

Begin in a crossed-leg seated position. Place your thumbs on the back arc of the pelvic rim, with the remaining fingertips resting on the front half of the bone. With eyes closed, gazing at the Third Eye, inhale: Use slight pressure from the thumbs to help rock the pelvis forward as you breathe in. As you exhale, use the fingertips to encourage the pelvic tilt backward. Continue inhaling and exhale, isolating the pelvic rock forward and back, for 2 minutes. 

Then, place your hands on your knees, far enough out, so that your arms are nearly straight. Begin Sufi Grinds, circling the entire torso to the right (clockwise): Inhale through the front half of the circle; exhale as you circle around the back. Move as slowly as you need to at first, then increase the pace: Your breath will shorten naturally; however, keep it powerful and steady. As you pick up the pace, your “grinding” undulations will become smaller: At that point, focus on allowing the spine to soften and move more fluidly with the movement. Continue for 1 minute, then rotate in the opposite direction (counterclockwise) for one more minute.

Next, stretch your legs in front of you, and open them into a comfortable straddle position. Bring the arms up to shoulder level, opened wide and fully extended. Inhale, and as you exhale, bring the palms together at the level of the heart as you round the spine back. The arms remain long, so that the palms together a couple of feet in front of the heart. Inhale to open the arms wide and flex the spine forward, opening the heart. Exhale to round back and close the arms, palms touching, inhale the spine forward as the arms come back; continue the rhythm for 2 minutes.

The final posture may feel tricky or awkward a first; however, once you find a basic rhythm, the movement is energizing and playful. Come onto the belly for Bow Pose: bend the knees, hold the feet or ankles with the hands, and lift your head and upper body off of the ground. Inhale: Press the feet or ankles into the hands to help yourself lift the chest higher, and to generate a slight rocking back of the whole posture. Exhale as you rock forward, bringing the face closer to the ground and the knees higher off of the ground. Encourage the momentum with the power of your breath, and through exerting pressure of feet-against-hands. Inhale to rock back, exhale to rock forward: Continue for 2 minutes, with the assumption that some of that time will be needed to establish momentum.

After you release Bow Pose, rest quietly on your belly for a few deep breaths. Then, press into Baby Pose to ease any tension in the lower back. After a few breaths, rise to sit in Rock Pose (buttocks on the heels). Place your left hand on the Dan Tien, which corresponds with the Second Chakra. The thumb tip rests in (or on) the navel, with the palm gently covering the area below. Place the right hand at the Heart center, so that the center point of the palm connects with the energy of the Fourth Chakra. Envision the warmth and glow of the Second Chakra’s creative spark infusing the radiant light of the Heart’s courage and compassion. Breathe with the connective mudra, eyes closed and gazing upward to the Third Eye, for 5 minutes.

Happy Sunday…