I’ve recently begun participating in a yoga webinar with two of my favorite teachers, Elena Brower and Christina Sell. As a part of our homework, we are asked to do sun salutations (as many as we need to to learn something new) and a 30 minute pranayama (breath exercise) practice every day. Yeah, every day. I know. It’s crazy. Anyway, I’ve always been a good student and when I’m given homework I do it. So, I’ve been making time everyday for these practices, and it feels great!! It calms me and leaves my mind feeling grounded and clear. Based on this experience, I’ve put together a 30 minute recipe that you can do to begin to experience the same peace of mind and mental clarity I’m enjoying through my own practice of movement, breath and meditation. Here it is, 30 minutes that will change your life:
1) Move for 10 minutes
If you are familiar with sun salutations, you may choose to practice a simple sun salutation for 10 minutes. If you are unfamiliar with this moving meditation, then any short asana practice will work. Here is a short yoga sequence that you can use if you’re new to yoga or if you prefer to be led. If you can’t bring your hands to your toes or your head doesn’t meet the floor, don’t worry!! Adi, the instructor in the video, has been practicing yoga since she was 15! Flexibility will develop with time. The important thing is to just be where you are, and embrace your body as it is today. If you have any questions about how to make any of the postures in the video easier or more accessible to you, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll share some tricks of the trade to make your experience more comfortable!
2) Breathe for 10 minutes
A daily pranayama practice is a great way to cultivate greater mental clarity. Here is Adi again with a short breathing practice to get you started. The more you practice the more familiar and accessible this will be. Try it everyday for a week. The more familiar you are with the rhythm of the breath, the more you’ll get out of it. If you don’t catch on right away, be easy on yourself. Practice makes proficient! Once you’ve mastered this one explore other pranayama practices. This is new to me, and I’m super excited about the benefits I’m experiencing.
3) Sit for 10 minutes
Remaining in your pranayama posture, set a timer for 10 minutes. It may be best for you to start with 2 minutes and slowly work your way up to the full ten. Sitting for extended periods of time can be very challenging if you aren’t used to it, so again, be easy on yourself (notice a theme yet). Close your eyes and breath naturally. Notice the activity of your eyes behind your eyelids. Are they jumping around or fluttering? Just notice. Monitoring the movement behind the eyelids is a good way to begin to quiet your mind (thanks, Christina!!). Focus on stilling your eyeballs. Remember to breath. Thoughts will come into your awareness, some will catch your attention others will not. When you notice this, call your thought “thought”, and return to your breathing and quieting your eyes. Sit this way, breathing and noticing your thoughts, until the timer sounds. A little trick I’ve discovered: if you start to get antsy and want to see how much time is left just say to yourself, “Just another minute.” Tell yourself this as often as you need to. It really works! Taking time each day to sit this way for as little as 5 minutes can work wonders!!
Lie on your back for 3 to 5 minutes. Let your arms rest at your side, about 45 degrees from your torso, palms up. Allow your fingers to naturally curl and be soft.
Try this recipe and practice as often as you can. The more familiar you get with these practices the more natural they feel. Namaste!