Happy solstice, and return to more light every day. Winter can be a season we brace against, but I invite you to welcome it fully, and find heat and warmth within. I spent an amazing weekend at Kripalu and I came out with a sense of ownership of my own energy and experience of the day. Here’s a practice I encourage you to try. Go in with an open mind, and experience all that comes up, physically, mentally, emotionally. Resist judgement. Feel the heat that builds inside you, and carry it through your day. (This post seems long - is long! - but it’s really a short practice. I just wrote it out in great detail to support you going slowly. Perhaps read through once before you physically do it… or read as you go… there’s no right way, so there’s no wrong way! :)
Sun Salutation in Slow Motion
Start in mountain pose: your hands at your sides, feet about two fists apart. Tail gently tucked, chin and shoulders subtly back and down. Breathe. Feel rooted to the earth, and open to the sky above. Breathe, breathe again. Slowly bring your hands to prayer position in front of your heart. Breathe slowly and deeply.
Inhale and point your fingers to the ground and lower your hands, still palms together, to the ground deep into the earth, then, slowly, slowly, scoop the earth’s energy as you separate your hands and sweep them wide and up over your head. Slowly, breathing. Slowly moving.
Reach above your head high, hands come back together, fingers wide, palms together. Feel your body, feet, legs, back, chest, neck and arms. Feel the energy awaken. Breathe, stay there, breathe long and slow. Keeping hands and arms up, drop your shoulders down and back. Pause between inhale and exhale. Feel your body, feet into earth, hands to the sky, long and awake.
Inhale while you start to slowly sweep your arms wide and your torso forward. Take a few breaths to get all the way to forward fold, legs softly straight, body draped over thighs, hands hanging towards or on the floor. Feel your body, observe your mind’s thinking and gently breathe as you continue all the way to forward fold, whatever that is for your body in this moment.
Stay for a couple breaths. A few breaths. Let your body tell you, notice if you don’t react to sensations right away. If you stay quiet.
Inhale and slowly rise halfway, like an upside down “L” - back and legs straight, arms resting on your legs wherever they land, head facing the floor. Breathe. Lenthen your head and tailbone long parallel to the ground, while you stretch legs and feet deeply into the ground. Feel what’s there to feel. Roll your shoulders back and stay for another breath. Put your weight on all four corners of your feet, slightly rock around the parts of your soles to see what happens with your balance. Breathe.
Inhale and slowly reach one leg back behind you while your hands come to the floor next to the other foot as that knee bends. Do this in one reach, slowly, or do it in a few shorter steps or wiggles back. No matter, no difference. Come to high lunge, hands on the floor, bent knee over ankle, other leg straight behind. Torso faces forward. Say hello to your hip, which is likely saying hello to you. Feel, breathe, stay. If you like, move your hands slowly to your thigh. Or not. Breathe in, out, in, out. Slow the experience down. Say hello to your beating heart. Send in breath. Breathe out judgements of your experience. Just feel what it’s like to stay here.
Hands on the floor, inhale and slowly send the bent leg back to come into plank, or top of a push-up position: hands straight under shoulders, body angled in a straight line from head to heels, toes curled under on the ground. Heels stretch back, head reaches forward. Breathe. Micro adjust shoulders back and down your spine. Get long, get hot. Breathe. Say hello to your belly. Feel the fire. Soak it into your bones. Keep that tailbone slightly lifted, not sagging. Breathe as long as you like here. 3 breaths. 30 seconds. One minute.
Exhale and slowly slowly lower like the bottom of a push up. Elbows close to your sides, tailbone slightly lifted. Knees off the floor, or on the floor to help. Say hello to your shoulders and upper arms. Trust their strength. Cheer them on. If you can, stay for a breath or two or three just off the floor - feet and hands rooted, everything else just above, straight and strong (in your mind at least).
Inhale up to a back bend either with legs just above the floor, or legs down. Use hands to lift upper body up to look at the wall in front of you. Say hello to your low back. Be kind, be gentle, be slow. Breathe in and out. Stay as long as you like. Play with the experience.
Exhale and lower back to either just above, or down on the floor in a straight line, hands next to ribs, legs out straight, toes curved under. With fire and using the heat you’ve built, lift your tailbone into down dog - upside down V. Let your bones help hold you, feel your power. Stay and breathe. Stay and breathe a little longer. Feel what’s there to feel. Notice the flurry in your mind and then get back into your body where it’s more interesting. Let your mind do it’s thing without your attention. Breathe long and deep and slow.
Inhale, lower your tailbone while you slowly bring the other leg forward - in one step or many - in one breath or many, so that your other foot is between your hands. Come up on fingers to open your chest here if you like. Breathe. Be gentle. Adjust as your body leads you to. Be curious. Breathe slowly and deeply here in high lunge. Out. In. Out. Find space. Feel the heat.
Slowly with an inhale, bring the back leg forward so your feet are about hip distance away, upper body lowered along your legs. Get there slowly, and stay in this forward fold. Let your hands come to a natural place with knees softly straight, or hug your calves. Breathe here. Feel the energy you’ve built. Breathe into it, fan the fire with your breath.
Inhale and slowly slowly rise, scooping your hands out to the sides and up as you come. Take several breaths to get there, head comes up last, from your tailbone all the way up to your head, ending in a slight back bend, standing tall, arms high overhead, fingers spread, hands apart over shoulders or a little wider, beaming that energy up through. Breathe here. Feel your belly and chest rise and fall with deep breaths.
Bring your palms together, lower your hands past your face, palms together in prayer and draw that heat and light deep into your body. Hands stop in front of your heart, thumbs pressing into your ribs, feeling your circulation strongly. Slightly lower your head to neutral, and let your hands fall slowly to your sides.
Breathe here and let your eyes close. Feel, experience, acknowledge everything that happened. Find gratitude, find humility, find confidence. Celebrate yourself. Breathe until you’re done. There’s all the time you need. Enjoy.