Last Friday, I was on my way to teach and I got behind the 'Most Careful' driver in the world (15 miles under the speed limit). I observed my blood pressure climbing, my thoughts of being late running rampant, my wishes for this driver to please, please take the next right turn off of the road. This may seem like a normal driving day for some but not for me. I usually have more compassion for the other person and am acceptable to the fact that I may be late but I will arrive safely. My rational side kicked in after a few miles of this; musing that perhaps this was an older person with a record of accidents and is extra careful driving in wet conditions. My final thought was that the universe had a reason for me being behind the car.
A few hours later, I am food shopping at my favorite emporium, Wegmans. Usually a glorious and wonderful experience with much dancing in the aisles. Not today though. Carts seem to be in my path at every turn. Cart parking jams occurred at every spot where I needed to pick up my item. What was wrong with me that day? Again, not the usual me. More stressful observations.
Later that evening, I decided to reflect upon my day and the observations I made from the two experiences. I still wanted to figure out why I was feeling that way and what I could do to make it better. I shared this day with my boyfriend, who in his wise self, asked whether or not I acted upon my frustration, impatience and stress. I said "No". He told me to give myself a break (some compassion) and that we all have those days. So simple but yet so hard to do.
So as we come upon another Hallmark holiday, rarely do we send ourselves some love or even flowers. Take at least a few moments to pour yourself a glass full of compassion into your morning cup. Sip from it throughout the day and never let it empty out. Ching Ching!!
Extended Exhalation or 1:2 Breath
A basic breath that you can take anywhere when you need to. Lengthening the exhale kicks the parasympathetic nervous system up a notch, allows more space between thoughts, eliminates more waste and toxins from the body and allows the body to settle more. Much like the Equal Breath, we use a count to inhale but then we exhale for double that count. Find a comfortable seat or lay down on the floor, hands can be placed on the belly or wherever they are comfortable. Begin with the inhale to a count of 2, then exhale for a count of 4. Slightly constrict your back of throat as you exhale (similar to Ujjayi breath). As you practice and progress in deepening your breath, perhaps the counts will get longer.
Supported Side Lying Pose
Props: bolster, 2-4 blankets, wall
Benefits: Opens up muscles in the IT band (iliotibial band) that runs alongside the outer leg, opens up constrictions in the side body, grounding, may stimulate the digestive system.
Lie on your back with feet facing the wall. Turn on to your side and place top leg at 90 deg. angle on bolster (leg should be aligned with hip, use more blankets if not). Bottom arm extended out to side. Place tri-fold blanket on top of that arm and top arm on blanket. Align head and neck with rest of spine and use a blanket to cushion head.
*For more awareness to your belly, place a blanket stack lengthwise snuggled into your belly and rest top arm on stack at a slight bend.
Legs Up on Wall Version (Bolster)
Props: chair/bolster, 2-3 blankets, strap, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: Sandbag, Webkinz stuffed animals
Benefits: relaxes the muscles of the lower back, legs, refreshes the legs, relaxes the muscles and organs of the abdomen.
Blanket on belly or legs.
Place a blanket on chair or bolster with blocks so you don't feel the hard surface. If you need to elevate the body, you can place a triple fold blanket in front of chair, then place your hips on blanket to one side, swing the legs up onto the prop as you lower your upper body onto the mat or floor. Use a neck roll to support cervical spine. Place a blanket or sandbag on legs to ground you in the pose. Arms release to the sides with palms turned up. Use an eye pillow to shut out any light for ultimate relaxation. An eye pillow or some type of weighted object (I've used stuffed animals) can be placed in open palms to move and free up energy. Stay for up to 10 minutes. Your beginning practice may consist of only 5 minutes. Feel the legs drain, the stress melt away.
Metta - The Practice of Compassion
May I be protected and safe
May I be healthy and strong
May I be happy and at ease
May I care for myself wisely
May I be at peace
Heart Opening Affirmation - send to yourself, someone you love, someone you may have a difficulty with, to all beings everywhere.
Labels: Extended Exhale Breath, Legs up the Wall Version, Supported Side Lying Pose