Vibrant tranquility. I love creating sequences which cultivate this very loose translation of sthira and sukha, or even ha and tha.
Today we began with belly breathing. We lied down with our legs draped over a bolster and a blanket folded over our bellies. The blanket gave clarity to the up and down movements of the abdomen as we breathed. We stayed here for about 5 minutes. This is very calming and soothing. Yogi Bhajan suggested that if the belly can't move when you breathe you will most likely experience tightness and lackluster circulation in breast tissue.
We followed with chest expander, reclining lengthwise over the bolster with the blanket used as a pillow. This is a bit more energizing. Sitting up afterward, we practiced deep yogic breathing, allowing all the muscles of respiration, now gently stretched, to fully participate in the breath. After a while, we introduced ujjayi. I find we often push or force the sound of ujjayi, so I suggested we pay attention to the face and relax any unnessessary tension there. That way, we can feel the breath - especially the exhale - vibrate on the roof of the mouth. We listened to the sound of SO HAM on the in and out breath. What could be more vibrantly tranquil than hearing that wisdom flow through you?
We brought ujjayi pranayama into the next postures. First, what I call the big bolster backbend. It's like a wheel pose without any muscular effort. Lie down with the bolster across the mid back, just above the waist. After a few minutes, roll to one side, straighten the legs, and press through the balls of the feet. Clasp the top wwrist with the bottom hans, and side stretch. Roll your upper shoulder blade back toward the bolster now, bending the top leg for support, and enjoy an open twist. Roll over and do these on the other side. Come up and place the bolster crosswise in front of you. Clasp opposite upper arms and lie down in child's pose, resting the forearms on the bolster and resting the forehead between the arms.
Sit up when you're ready and enjoy 3 to 5 more minutes of ujjayi pranayama.
Finish the asana sequence with baddha konasana, upavistha konasana over one leg, then the other, then both legs.
Sitali pranayama is cooling and refreshing after the focus on ujjayi. Stick out the tongue and roll up the ends. If this is impossible or makes no sense, stick the tip of the tongue between the teeth, and inhale over the tongue. Exhale through one nostril, closing the other one off with your right thumb or ring finger. Be sure to change nostrils each time. Practice for only a couple of minutes and you will feel lighter and brighter in the mouth, throat, all over. Now relax into savasana.
This sequence can easily be practiced at home. Use 3 fairly firm bed pillows or a sofa cushion in place of the bolster. If these pranayamas are new to you, call me or your local yoga teacher for further explanation. Otherwise, simply practice deep, even breathing in place of them.
Lush, inspiring poetry by Rabindranath Tagore rounded out this soothing session. I hope you enjoy the practice. Happy Sunday.