Movements to Inspire Spiritual Connection
Bhapaji Kripalu, spiritual guru and father of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Aryuveda noted that if every person would take 3 minutes in the morning to consciously connect their breath and their body movement, then there would be no wars because each person would experience a connection both to Self and to other.
There is something special — daresay, magic — that happens through connecting body movement to breathing pattern. The word yoga translates into the verb “to yoke” or “to unite”. When we practice yoga asana we are linking physical postures with inhalations and exhalations in order to facilitate a meditation in motion. During these moments of connection, the mind quiets down and we enter into a state commonly referred to as flow.
When we can enter into our bodies and live in awareness of sensation and ground down in our physical element, even if momentary, we experience liberation from the inevitable chatter of the mind.
Here are five exercises to perform upon waking. Spend a few minutes with yourself, and embodying your vastness!
Breath of Attention ~
You can do this breathing exercise sitting or standing. If you choose to sit, sit at the edge of the chair so your back is unsupported.
Set a timer for three minutes. Reach your arms up overhead and take a deep breath in through your nose as you try to touch the ceiling with your finger tips. As you exhale pull your arms down to your sides, bending your elbows so that your hands are at chest level. As you pull down, make fists with your hands.
The next inhale, punch your fists into the air and the open your hands. Exhale through your nose and pull your fists down to your sides as fast as you can. Repeat this breath as fast and as strong as you can. It will only last for three minutes, so breathe as deep and full as you can, and think of embodying the word explosive with your arms.
Swinging into Intention ~
Set timer for 3 minutes. Stand with your feet about three feet apart and parallel to one another. Make sure there is enough room to spread your arms out to either side. Lift your arms up shoulder height and out to the sides, making a capital letter T with your torso and arms. Twist your torso to the left as you cross your right arm in front of you and left arm behind you. As you do so, pivot your right foot so that your toes turn to the left and your heel lifts off the ground.
Replace your right heel down, come back to center, arms out to either side. Turn your torso to the right, spinning up your back heel and pivoting your left toes to the right as the right arm wraps behind your back and the left arm comes across your chest. Come back to center and repeat one more time each side.
Once you get use to the movement of your body, link your inhales and exhales to the movement. Inhale when you come to center, arms extending to either side, and exhale as the arms hit against your body. Start to move quicker, inhaling through the nose and exhaling with an audible “ha” sound. Tip: Rather than keeping your arms straight, imagine your arms are like wet noodles, slapping against your body.
The Ripple Effect ~
Come into a high plank position. Set yourself up so that your bones are stacked- shoulders over wrists and heels over the balls of your feet. Puff up the space between your shoulder blades and imagine breathing into the back of your heart. The back of your heart is connected to your experiences and relationships, those that helped you get to where you are now. Use breath to acknowledge all that you’ve seen and felt.
Hold this high plank for 5 breaths. On your fifth exhale, pull back into downward facing dog. Peddle out your feet. Rotate your arm pits into your ears to spread your back body. Stay here for five breaths.
Tuck your chin into your chest. Inhale and slowly ripple your body forward into a high plank. Let your head be the last thing to lift up. As you exhale, tuck your chin in to your chest and send your hips up and back into downward facing dog. Continue to move like this, 10 undulations forward into plank and back into downward facing dog. Be sure to use the entire length of your inhale and exhale.
Once you’ve completed 10, hold high plank for 5 deep, full breaths. On the fifth exhale, lower all the way down onto the mat. Turn your cheek to one side and let your arms release long by your hips. Close your eyes. Take 10 full breaths, trying to breathe into both the heart and the belly at the same time.
The Self Journey ~
Push up on to your hands and knees, so that you are in a table top position. Bring your knees as wide as you can (if you have knee sensitivity do this on a yoga mat or blanket). Bring the hands a little wider than your shoulders and about a foot in front of your shoulders. You’re in a wide table top position.
Close the eyes take a breath in. As you exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin into your chest, the middle of the back lifts up towards the ceiling.
From this position, make big circles with your hips, keeping your eyes closed. Big circles in both directions. After a few breaths, bend your elbows and move your neck and your shoulders. Think about your spine like it was a snake on your back, slithering up and down.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, it is simply you moving as you. Allow yourself to explore your body, supported by the floor, with the freedom to express your unique self. You can make this as fast or slow, as big or small as you would like. Do this for 30-40 breaths.
The Truth Root ~
Now that you’ve found some attentive, aware, and liberated movement in your body, it is time to root down the truth of your innate beauty — body, mind, spirit. Set a timer for three minutes. Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Breathe into both hands, a count of four breaths on the inhale, and four breaths to exhale. Do this four more times, feeling the breath move into both of your hands on the inhale, and emptying completely on the exhale.
Now, imagine a warm light starting from the ground. As you breathe in, imagine the light moving from your feet all the way up your body, encompassing every part of you. At the the top of your inhale, hold your breath for a count of four and see this brilliant light illuminating you from your toes to the crown of your head. As you exhale, see this light returning down your body, healing any pain or tension, relieving you of stress.
Continue to take full, long breaths in and out of your nose, washing yourself with this warm, empowering, healing light. Once the timer goes off, take a soft breath in and out of your nose. Gently open your eyes, bring your hands in prayer, and bow down to you. Radiant you.