"Maybe getting on the mat is actually making a decision to embrace silence. First finding outer silence: no music, no talking, no chatter. When that choice is made, then we then have the opportunity to embrace our inner silence. This awakening to our inner silence happens because getting on the mat creates the space for our inner silence to arise."
Awareness: A home practice to enhance grounding and awareness
Sit cross-legged or on the front edge of a chair. Inhale, and slowly circle sweep your arms up. Bring your palms together over your head. Exhale, and draw your hands down into heart space. Repeat for 10 rounds.
2. Cat and Cow poses
Come onto your hands and knees. Exhale, press into your palms, drop your head, and curl your belly back toward your spine. Inhale, soften your belly as you reverse and move into cow pose, arching your back and bringing your heart up and forward looking up. Continue for 5-8 rounds. Initiate the movement from your pelvis.
3. Downward-Facing Dog pose, with a block, bolster or stack of blankets
This restorative variation allows you to release the weight of your head (literally and metaphorically). Release into child's pose, with your arms stretched out in front of you. Place your support (block, bolster, blanket stack) between your hands. Curl your toes under and push back and up into Down Dog and adjusting the block under your forehead. Make sure your neck is a soft extension of your spine, don't press your head on the block, just use it as a resting point. Close your eyes and stay for 10 breaths.
4. Plank pose to belly
Exhale as you release into plank. Hold your plank for 30 seconds, then slowly lower down to your tummy. The deep core work of this pose has a soothing and down-regulating effect on your nervous system.
5. Cobra pose
Think of a sailboat floating effortlessly up and down on gentle waves. Feel that slow rhythm as you inhale into Cobra Pose and exhale your forehead back down to the floor. Repeat 3-6 times, then press back to Down Dog.
From Down Dog, walk your hands back to a Standing Forward Fold. Move your feet as wide as your mat, turning your toes in slightly so the outside edges of your feet are parallel to each other. With your legs straight or a soft bend in your knees, drop your head. Hang here for 5-8 breaths.
6. Triangle pose
Inhale up and bring your feet back in so they are inline and under your hips. From standing, step your left leg back. Turn your left toes out pointing to the long side of your mat, orient yourself so that everything else is aligned with the long side of your mat, externally rotate your front leg, rolling your thigh muscle outward. Inhale, and open your arms. Exhale, and move from your pelvis, first extending forward and then down, aim your right hand for your block, shin or the floor. Let your back hip do whatever it wants (usually moving slightly forward rather than remaining rigidly stacked).
7. Half moon pose to standing forward fold, with a block or other support
From Triangle, bend your front knee over your middle toe, and shift forward. Bring a block with you to support your front hand, and extend your back leg parallel to the floor. After a few breaths, release the back leg down into a Standing Forward Fold and repeat triangle and half moon on the other side.
8.Malasana to Apanasa, garland squat to knees to chest
Stand in mountain pose with feet pointed outward or pointing to the top of your mat, inhale and circle sweep your arms up, palms together overhead, exhale moving hands into heart space and lowering into a deep squat. Pause and hold for 30 seconds and then lower into sitting. Hold your shins, and roll back onto your back. Rotate your knees in small circles to release your sacrum and lower back.
9. Bridge pose, with a block, bolster or rolled up blanket
Lie on your back, bend your knees, placing your heels near your bottom, turn your toes in slightly and align your hands, palms down along side your body. Inhale and lift your hips up into Bridge. Hold for 5 breaths. Roll down, and repeat 2 more times. On the third round, place a block or other support under your sacrum. Close your eyes, and rest for as long as you’d like. Remove the block, and slowly roll down.
10. Corpse pose
This is yoga’s most powerful pose. It is an opportunity to move away from the constant activity of your waking life, let go of control, and taste the deeply satisfying state of pratyahara, or sense withdrawal. Your body already knows how to relax; all you need to do is set a timer for 5-20 minutes and receive the joy of Savasana.
Yogi, instructor, seeker