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Holiday Weekend Home Practice

One of the main foundational texts on the Buddha’s teachings on meditation, written by Upatissa in the first century after Christ, is called The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga).  It is interesting to me that a path that requires dedication and practice, things that we tend to see as un-liberating, would be seen as producing a sense of freedom.  In addition, this work that we do in yoga and meditation helps us to promote compassion for all living beings.  In our American culture, there is significant value placed on being “independent.” When I was in the last few weeks of my pregnancy with my son, I visited with my future child’s pediatrician and he gave me a little booklet put together by the pediatric practice on how to prepare to care for a newborn.  This booklet informed me that it was of the utmost importance that I obtain a crib and that my newborn sleep by itself.  The booklet did inform me that this was the safest way for baby to sleep, but it also made clear that it was important for the baby to sleep alone so that it would gain a sense of independence.   What a strange way to talk about a little one that so very clearly relies on its caregivers for everything.  We even try to make complete dependence look like independence in our culture.

So, in honor of this holiday of independence, I give you this short home-practice that fosters inter-dependence and helps us to find peace in our relationship to the earth and to one another.  Peace and love to everyone in the extended Yoga Matrika community–ENJOY!  This is designed to be a very simple and mindful practice that is appropriate for everyone, but please be careful and if you have any concerns about practicing yoga, wait and talk with a teacher first.

Step 1:  Grounding, Establishing our Relationship to the Earth (Vertical Relationships)

Find a place outdoors to stand (if you need to, please feel free to practice sitting in a chair) in your bare feet (ideally) or indoors if weather or environment requires it.  Stand in Mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart.  Legs are strong, but relax a bit through the knees.  Roll your sitting bones under you and lengthen through the sides of the body.  Roll your shoulders back slightly and let them drop down away from your ears.  Stretch the crown of your head towards the sky.

Bring your awareness to your feet.  Notice the weight of your body pressing down on the earth through the soles of your feet.  Then, shift so that you bring your awareness to the pressure that the earth is exerting up into the soles of your feet.  As you inhale deeply, focus on the weight of your body connecting with the earth.  As you exhale all the air out of the body and the energy rises out through the crown of the head, feel the energy of the earth rising up through your feet through the entire body.

You can do this for as long or as little as you like, but I recommend 3-5 minutes.  At the end of your grounding meditation, do some gentle stretching.  Inhaling, reach your arms over head and stretch—-come up onto your toes if balance isn’t a problem for you.  Explore your relationship to the earth and sky.  Inhale stretch and reach.  Exhale and release the stretch.

Step 2: Relax the Spine and Explore the Horizontal Relationship to the Earth

Come down onto the ground on your hands and knees.  As you inhale, open your heart, let your belly drop towards the earth and stretch your sitting bones back behind you (wise cow).  As you exhale, round through the spine, spreading the shoulder blades and bringing your chin towards your chest (cat).  Continue on in this movement for 6-8 repetitions of Cat/Cow.  Inhaling and opening the heart and exhaling and rounding the spine.

After these repetitions, come into Child’s Pose and hold it for 2-3 minutes.

Step 3: Stretch the Hips and Groin in a Seated Pose (Cobbler’s Pose)

Sit here for at least one minute, but preferably 2-3 minutes.  Breathe deeply into the body and feel the connection between your pelvis and the earth beneath you.  As you exhale, feel the energy rise from the base of the spine up through the crown of your head. Feel open and confident.

Step 4: Explore the Back Body and the Legs with Head to Knee Pose

Relax through your shoulders, face, neck and jaw and just allow gravity to do the work.  You should feel a nice stretch through the sides of the back and the leg, but do not strain to touch your toes.  Actually, do not strain at all.  Allow this stretch to be pleasurable and be curious about sensation in your body as you stretch and breathe.

Step 5: Happy Baby

Have fun!  Wiggle your toes.  Roll around and move and smile.  There you go!

Step 7: Savasana

Do not skip this pose.  Find a comfortable place to lie down and just be present for your thoughts, for your breath, for your feelings and body.  Try not to judge and just BE for 5 to 10 minutes.

By Sharon
Mountain Pose

Cow Pose

Cat Pose

Baddha Konasana
Bound Angle Pose

Janu Sirsasana
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

Ananda Balasana
Happy Baby Pose

Corpse Pose

Yoga Journal Sequence Builder, Patent pending

This sequence designed by Sharon Rudyk, Owner and Director of Yoga Matrika.  You can design your own sequences at Yoga Journal online.  We hope you’ll stop by our beautiful studio in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania sometime soon.

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