Exercises- Moving Meditation #2

 

  1. Begin with the opening breath from the first moving meditation. And as you exhale, press down with your hands and step out into a wide stance just over shoulder width apart.
  2. For this movement, when you inhale you are going to scoop your left hand under your right arm and bring it in a circular motion around to the left. As you do that you will shift your weight to your left leg, straightening your right leg and bending your left leg a little more, but keep your hips facing forward. Your right foot can turn towards your left foot a little bit. 

Inhale as you begin to bring your left hand in a circular motion.

  1. Exhale as you follow your hand with your eyes. Keep your spine straight, not bending backwards. Keep your feet planted and your hips facing forward.
  2. When you have reached as far behind you as you can, inhale and unwind by bringing your left hand over your head and back in front of your body. And exhale. You are now in your original position facing forwards. 
  3. Now for the other side, you will scoop your right hand under your left arm and trace a large circle with it towards the right side of your body. You will shift the weight to your right foot and straighten the left leg, as you did on the first side. 

Inhale as you begin. Make sure your lower body is in a good position–left foot facing your right foot and your hips facing forward. 

  1. Exhale as you continue to twist your right hand behind your body, looking over your right shoulder until you reach as far as you can with your right hand. Inhale and unwind your body, bringing your right hand over your head and back in front of your body as you exhale. 
  2. Continue to your left side and repeat the sequence until you have done 5 twists to each side.    

The key to twisting the spine is to keep your lower body fixed in a strong position. When you bring your hand behind your back, imagine you are pushing the hip of your bent leg against a wall and try to keep your hips facing forward, even twisting in the opposite direction. 

Be mindful not to bend backwards even as you reach behind your back. Keep your hips facing forward, bend your knee, and even lean forwards a bit to counteract the tendency to lean backwards. 

After you unwind from a twist and end on an exhale, try to start the next twist on the other side immediately on the following inhale as you scoop your hand and shift to the other side. This way the breathing is continuous through all the repetitions. 

When you reach behind you, be sure to look over your shoulder with your eyes. This way the neck will be the first part of your spine to twist and will not be strained by the lower parts of the back. Try to feel each vertebrae of your spine twisting as you reach around. 

  1. After your last twist, stand and finish with your opening breath. Really expand the chest and pinch the shoulder blades together as you inhale, and gather the breath under your palms and compress it in the belly as you exhale.

And with that, we can move on to our next set of movements in the exercise. The next movement will bend your spine forward and backward, creating a round shape in the spine in both directions. This will help loosen up any tight or tense areas in your upper body and the lower back and hips. 

  1. Start with your opening breath. When you breathe out, stand about shoulder width apart.
  2. As you inhale, lift your arms in front of your chest then drop them so that they swing in a big circle to your sides, leading with the backs of your hands. 
  3. As they cross over your head, turn your palms towards your face and bring them down in front of you as you exhale.
  4. Inhale as you make a second circle, this time palms up.
  5. At the top of the circle bring the backs of your hands together and point your fingertips towards the ground. Exhale and push your hands towards the ground, letting your head and upper back follow as you fold forward, link by link like a chain. At the bottom of the forward fold, let your arms, head, and back completely relax. This might require a few breaths.
  1. When you are ready, circle your palms outwards and bring them together between your knees as you drop your hips down into a squat, palms together. Your elbows should be pushing your knees outwards and your back should be as straight as possible. 
  2. Lift your hips upwards as you straighten your legs and stand up. Point your fingers in towards you as you reach as high as you can. Let your palms separate and create a large circle, exhaling on the way down. 
  3. Inhale as your hands circle back above your head and exhale as they continue down your sides and come to rest on your lower back, with the backs of your hands against your back. 
  4. Here you can inhale as you prepare to bend backwards, using your hands as support for your lower back. Exhale slowly as you press your hips forwards and bend your spine backwards as far as you can comfortably go.  
  5. When you are ready, inhale and lift your hips to begin lifting your spine back to a straight position, first straightening your lower spine, then your middle spine, and finally your upper spine, neck and head.
  6. Now repeat this sequence 5 times in each direction, bending the spine forwards and backwards. 

Lift your hands up in front of your chest and drop them to make large circles to the side and go into your forward fold. 

As you bend forwards, picture your spine’s vertebrae folding over themselves like links in a chain. Notice which parts of the chain are stuck together and which sections are free and flexible. With practice, more and more of your spine will create a round shape when you bend forwards. 

When you drop your hips and bring your palms together, you can have your toes pointed slightly outwards and press your elbows against your knees to stretch and open your hips. Your back should be straight. You can take a couple of breaths here too if you want. 

Inhale and lift with your hips first as you stand up and reach for the sky. Make your body as long as you can as you press your palms upwards. Totally relax your arms as you exhale and make big circles to your sides.

As you come into your backward bend, go slowly and focus on pushing your hips forward, keeping a slight bend in the knees. You should only bend backwards for one long exhale. As you unbend, lead with your hips, straightening your lower spine first. Be careful as you may become lightheaded if you come up too fast. 

As your arms circle upwards, try to open your chest as much as possible, and as they circle downwards try to round your back and close your chest.

  1. Finish with your closing breath.

The final movement in this series will help you feel grounded and centered. By calming your mind, and by focusing on bringing positive energy into the body, you will allow your body to properly conclude the challenging exercises it has just done. 

This standing meditation will generate energy by clapping the hands. Clapping the hands stimulates pressure points that connect to many parts of our body and brain, increasing circulation.

  1. Start with your opening breath, stepping out about hip-width apart. 
  2. With your palms facing each other, bring your hands up your center and past either side of your face. Open your chest as you circle your arms around you and bring them back in front of you. 
  3. Bring your right hand behind your left hand and let your hands drop in front of you and circle back up your sides to clap over the top of your head, then immediately circle back down to clap in front of your hips. Keep clapping like this a total of 10 times, inhaling and exhaling with each one. Every time you clap, try to make your hands stick just for a moment. 
  4. After your last clap, bring your hands up your center and past either side of your face, feeling the heat and energy from your hands as they pass your head. Continue to circle your arms around you until they are out in front of you, palms nearly touching. Here your elbows and knees should be slightly bent, your shoulders relaxed, and your spine tall.
  5. Now bring your hands to hover at either side of your head, and close your eyes fully or partially as you breathe deeply. As you breathe, focus on bringing good energy into the top of your head and down into your belly while you feel the heat from your hands on both sides of your head. Let your body totally relax. Stay in this position for 10 deep breaths. 
  6. When you have finished your breathing, allow your hands to drop and finish with your closing breath.

Conclusion

 

And this moving meditation is over. All of the movements in this series have focused on bending, elongating, twisting and folding the spine. A flexible and strong spine is key to the healthy circulation of blood and nutrients throughout your body. Consistency is really important as the benefits of these movements require time and repetition. As you practice these exercises, challenge yourself to coordinate your breath with your movements, and with time, you will reap the benefits and improve day by day.