21-Day Back to the Mat Challenge: Day Five. Stillness.
Welcome to Day Five! Stillness.
A couple quick notes before we get started: If you’d like to be entered into our weekly drawing, please make sure to comment each day on the Facebook page. And if any of the postures in these 21-Days are not accessible to you, please modify them to make things comfortable for your own body. The power of your intention is more important than your ability to perform each posture perfectly.
OK. Back to Day Five:
For today’s practice, do each pose we’ve shared so far, then after performing Sun Salutations on both sides, come back to Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Elements of Tadasana can be found in every single yoga posture, so let’s look a little deeper:
- Check that your feet are hip’s width apart
- Feet parallel (Imagine a line from the center of the base of your second toe, through your ankle)
- Equally distribute your weight between your feet and in the four corners of each foot (the big toe ball mound, the inner heel, the outer heel, the little toe ball mound)
- Bend your knees slightly, ground your energy down into the earth
- Exaggerate the curve of your low back by sticking your butt out slightly behind you
- Engage your quadriceps muscles to lift your kneecaps (or just imagine lifting your kneecaps)
- On an inhale, engage your abs and tuck your tailbone, taking some but not all of the curve out of your low back
- Strengthen and Lengthen through the sides of your ribs
- Broaden your shoulders and the front of your chest by rolling your upper arms outward
- Invigorate your arms and straighten them at your sides
- Open your palms, enliven your fingers and spread them wide, palms facing forward
- Lengthen your neck, reaching the crown of your head toward the sky
Yeah! Tadasana is a power pose. As mountains go, it is more a Kilimanjaro than a Mount Philo. Use it to engage your whole body. You can find your inner majesty in this posture. Now:
- Come to stillness
- Press your palms together at the center of your chest
- Close your eyes
This is where the magic happens. Spanda.
The Sanskrit word Spanda has many definitions. Some call it the pulsation of the Universe or the sacred tremor of the heart. Others simply call it dynamic stillness. The Spanda Foundation in the Netherlands defines it this way: “the dynamic interplay of the passive and the creative polarizations of the Absolute, and that by unfolding itself into the energetic process of differentiation bringing forth the whole of creation.” This is the real deal.
Mary Oliver describes this magic in her Poem Today. Here is an excerpt:
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
Here is the short version of today’s practice:
- Take a comfortable seat
- Close your eyes, Bring your attention inward
- Inhale, lengthen the spine, Exhale, keep that length
- Notice deeply
- Continue in this way for 10 or 20 breaths
- Open your eyes and move to a kneeling position (sit back on your heels)
- Perform Kapalabhati for 20-50 breaths, Repeat (as you like)
- Come to Child’s pose, enjoy the effects of Kapalabhati
- Come up to Table, then move with breath: Table > Down Dog > Table > Child’s Pose…
Repeat Five times (or as many or few times as you like)
- Balancing Table (both sides)
- Lower arm/leg back to Table
- Exhale as you Push back to Downward Facing Dog
- Inhale, Step forward to Standing Forward Fold
- Exhale here
- Inhale up to Tadasana, Mountain Pose
- Sun Salutation (both sides)
- Close your eyes, bring your hands together in Prayer Pose, Anjali Mudra, at the center of your chest
- Lower down to a comfortable sitting position
- Lie back into Savasana