A Simple, 10-Minute Exercise For Balance And Calm
Having recently returned from a Sarah Powers intensive, I'd like to share a 10-minute version of a practice you can do every day to feel calm and balanced.
Minute 1: Scan and be aware.
Sit comfortably cross legged. Do a body scan. How do you feel today and what have you bought to the mat? How is your body? Are there any tight spots or areas of stickiness you can bring attention to? What is your breathing like? Without trying to force or change your breath, just bring awareness to it. Is it strong and deep or shallow? Is it ragged or smooth? How is your emotional health? Do you have any psychological niggles that need your attention? Acknowledge they are there, then move on.
Minutes 2-4: Yin Pose, Butterfly.
Butterfly is an easy transition from seated without disturbing the body too much. This is a nice way to stretch the back, and it's also beneficial to the kidneys and bladder. If you have lower back issues, consider doing this pose lying down.
Find a comfortable seat and bring the soles of the feet together, then slide them away from you. Allowing your back to round, fold forward over your legs while lightly resting your hands on your feet or the ground.
Minutes 4-6: Alternate nostril breathing.
Block off the left nostril. Breathe in to the count of four, out to the count of four. Do this three times. Block off the right and repeat. Place the hands on the knees and breathe through both nostrils three times. You can add some breath retention on this last round by holding the breath at the top of the inhale for a count of up to ten, then at the base of the exhale for two five-counts. If this feels uncomfortable, omit.
This practice will awaken the energy in your naval center, bringing with it the feeling of personal power.
Minutes 6-10: Meditation, Shamatha.
Sit comfortably and adopt a straight spine. If you need to, lean against a wall or sit on a cushion.
Breath in and out with a steady ratio to your breath. As your thoughts start to arise, bring your attention back to your breath. Count your first inhale as one and exhale as one. The next inhale is two and so on. If you get pulled out of this concentration, start at one again.
It's quite likely that if you have more time, you'll want to move into a more rigorous yang style practice here. If you're sick and in bed, or have not done a yoga practice for a while, then this can be done lying down.