I am an “early bird”: Most of my meditation, yoga, writing, and administrative tasks occur in the pre-dawn hours. Often, the practices I create reflect my morning tendencies, in that I typically think of them as a way to enter a day, or provide a midday boost. This Silent Sunday, however, moves its intention to day’s end.
Many of us feel the need to recalibrate physical and mental energies by the time evening arrives. Today’s practice upends the body to soothe and center both body and mind. Further, the sequence of moderate, accessible inversions stimulate blood and lymph flow, and relieve the pressure of body weight from beleaguered joints.
The supine base for each move resets the spine and core, lending to a feeling of balance and stability. Try any or all of these moves when you need to clear a foggy brain; restore the body; or thoroughly shift mood or perspective.
Begin on your back in a variation of Constructive Rest pose: feet flat, a little wider than hip width, with knees falling in and resting against each other. Cross the arms atop the body; note which arm lies on top of the other. With eyes closed, inhale through the nose for 6-8 counts; exhale through the rounded lips, slow and steady, for 10-12 beats.
Complete 4 rounds of this breath pattern.
Then, inhale deeply. Suspend the breath while you change into the next posture: Release the arms to the floor by your sides, palms up; lift the feet off of the floor, tucking the knees in toward the body. Exhale through the nose to settle into this supine tuck with relaxed arms.
Now, repeat the initial breath pattern: 4 rounds of inhaling through the nose for 6-8 beats; exhaling through the mouth for 10-12 counts.
Again, inhale through the nose, and suspend the breath. Move into the next inversion: legs extend straight up from the hips, and arms extend straight up from the shoulders. Exhale deeply through the nose to set the pose, known as Dead Bug. The posture soothes and resets the nervous system.
Engage the now-familiar breath pattern again. After 4 rounds, inhale to suspend the breath, so that you can find the fourth inversion: legs open wide into a straddle, while arms come to shoulder level, extended to either side, palms up. Complete another 4 rounds of the extended-exhale breath pattern.
Now you will reverse the sequence. In this portion, breathe naturally, according to your body’s rhythm, in and out through the nose. Remain in each position until your body tells you to switch. To allow kinesthetic intuition to be your guide will further restore balance.
From the inverted wide-leg straddle, shift into Dead Bug: arms and legs straight up, perpendicular to the torso. Breathe fully, eyes closed.
When you are ready, move into the bent-knee tuck with arms on the floor by your sides.
Upon the body’s cue, resume the original posture: Constructive Rest. This time, cross the opposite arm on top of the other. Remain here as long as you like.
When it feels right to you, release the pose, and prepare for Half-Bridge. With feet flat, and feet and knees now hip-width apart, roll up through the spine to elevate the hips. Interlace the fingers under the Bridge, and stretch the arms long on the floor beneath you.
Return to the counted breath while keeping the hips lifted: Inhale through the nose for 6-8 counts, exhale through mouth for 10-12. Complete 4 rounds.
Then, roll down out of the posture, and lengthen both legs onto the floor. Gently help yourself into Reclined Twist: Draw the left knee in toward the body, and use the right hand to guide the knee across the body toward the floor on your right. Take 3-5 natural breaths here.
Repeat to the other side.
Finally, allow your mind and body to sink into Svasana for as long as you like.