Re-Align: Inquiry 1- Sitting and Centering
Original Date: Jan 8, 2016
In a previous post I shared a free practice series for you to follow along with. Now I will go through and break down the steps one at a time. It is a common act to seek the new, rather than to refine the basic. You could practice one pose for a whole year and it would remain a mystery. My attempt here will be at a deep inquiry into each pose as a source of inspiration. Meditate, experiment, and stay curious with the basics.
Inquiry 1: Sitting & Centering
It is essential to begin each practice with a moment to sit and be still. This is potentially the most important practice of all. Despite any discomfort or trouble in your life, you always can make time for this one breath sitting in quiet inquiry.
Sit on the floor or in a chair if that provides more comfort to knees and back. Sitting and centering clears the mind and sets the intention for your practice. My one intention in each practice is to be present. I find this to be a lifelong practice, and one I may never quite master!
If sitting on the floor, it is very important to sit up on a blanket or other support cushion to elevate your hips. Sitting on support will help to keep the natural curve of your lumbar spine. You can also sit near a wall, with your back directly at the wall, or to place a bolster between the wall and your back. Avoid slouching spine and shoulders. The spine should lift and the shoulders should lightly draw back and down. Imagine a tiny thread at the top of your head giving your whole spinal column a tender lift. Bring one hand to the head and feel your head lift up to that hand. Lengthen the back of your neck. Feel your ribs draw in, offering a gentle support to your inner organs. Let your belly be soft, fluidly moving with each breath. Feel your hips and legs grounded, this means they gently press and engage down towards the mat and provide a strong stable base of support to the spine. Soften tension in the legs. If you feel strain in your knees, you can tuck a blanket or block under the knees. Maybe take a few 1/2 neck rolls and roll the shoulders a few times. Breath in to the count of 5, and then out to the count of 5, and emphasize your exhale, perhaps breathing out through the mouth.
Once you feel settled in your seat, bring your hands to your belly, and breath deep, feeling your body move towards and away from your hands. Then slide your hands to your ribs. Feel the ribs expand with each breath, and gently contract away with each exhale. Then, bring your hand to the top of your chest, near your collar bones. Feel the breath lift up into this space, while still moving deep in the belly and wide through the ribs. Take 3 more breaths this way. Then place the hands on your knees again.
Sit here as long as you like. Let your breath act like a broom for the mind, sweeping away dust, debris, and thoughts that do not serve your best intentions. Let your breath move into any place in the body that may need more nourishment. In this way, prepare for your practice or simply prepare for the day ahead.