Breath awareness offers each of us unique and profound insight into who we are and how we are feeling. It connects our inner, personal world of sensations, thoughts and experience, with the outer world that unfolds around us.
One of the more introverted yoga poses, the forward bending Crab pose, is a welcome relief at the end of a busy day of “doing”. It moves your awareness away from the external and helps you cultivate greater internal wisdom. It is also a wonderful pose to start your day, as it cultivates humility, receptivity and the awareness that our relationship with our internal world is reflected back to us through our relationship with our external world. The wise yogi knows that each thought, feeling and idea literally affects the way we experience the moment, and this sets the arch and trajectory of our life.
Please remember that the goal of this exercise is not to “work hard” but to get in touch with your true source of power. Connect to your breath, your body and your spine and witness whatever may arise. Release all tendency to have an agenda. Practice presence. In this allowing, you create a forum within yourself for tremendous healing.
All YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine exercises in this magazine are part of a series, designed to build one exercise upon the next. In following the series in sequence, you gain maximum benefits.
Find a quiet and relaxed environment where you can lie on the floor on a towel or yoga mat.
Begin with Savasana, bringing your breath awareness from the crown of your head through your body and down into your toes. Feel your whole body breathing.
Then bend your knees, feet flat on the floor, hip width apart, and practice The Breathing Wave.
Once you sense ease through your spine, roll onto your right side, use your left hand to press and roll yourself up into a sitting position.
Extend your legs, keeping your knees bent, so that your feet, which are hip width apart, continue to touch the ground. Place your arms between your bent legs and take hold of the tops of your feet. Gently allow your knees to roll away from each other, towards the floor.
Inhale, feel your belly rise. Sense your tailbone tilt ever so slightly back, opening up your pelvic floor.
Exhale, your belly moves inward towards your spine. Your tailbone tilts slightly forward, sensing the energy connection you have with the ground.
Inhale, draw in life force through your crown, as though you have a whale spout, and down your spine, which is like a tube of breath.
Exhale, release energy up towards the crown of your head and allow yourself to feel the downward flow of energy through your pelvis, legs and feet. Allow the energy to move effortlessly, with attention, but without pushing.
While breathing in this manner, draw your awareness to the top of your spine at the base of your skull, behind your throat. Allow your head to gently roll forward, feeling the weight of your head, as it responds to gravity.
Allow yourself to roll forward and down, vertebra by vertebra. Do so slowly, and mindfully. Notice what your spine feels like.
Inhale, you draw energy down your spine. Exhale, feel the energy move up and down your spine. Feel your relationship to your breath, the spaciousness within every cell in your body, your spine through which life force travels, and the loving support from the ground.
Allow yourself to roll as forward as is comfortable, pressing gently with your elbows into your knees, so that you make room for your forward bend.
Once as forward as is comfortable, remain there for several breaths. Allow your breath to become like an internal massage that permeates your body/being.
Should you notice tense areas, do not try to get rid of them. Instead, bring attention to them and allow your breath awareness to permeate the areas. Feel the spacious quality of the breath brings healing, loving, acceptance and wisdom there.
Should thoughts or emotions come, watch them pass by without getting tied up in their stories. Each breath is unique. Your breath awareness will guide you to where you need to be.
When you have had enough, gently roll yourself back up, vertebra by vertebra. Your head is the last to rise.
Inhale as you hug your knees into your chest. Exhale as you sit tall, giving your spine a good stretch. Feel as though you exhale out your crown (not your chin), as it floats towards the sky. Your tailbone releases towards the Earth.
After a few breath cycles, bring your breathing back to what feels normal for you.
Parvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine and an internationally recognized Canadian musician, yogi and new thought leader. As a chart-topping touring musician, Parvati spearheads the Post New-Age musical genre with her independent success hit single “Yoga in the Nightclub”. She founded YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, a powerful yoga method that combines energy work and yoga poses. Her debut self-help book “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie – A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker” is forthcoming in 2016.