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A practice that combines energizing and calming principles (brahmana and langhana) has a balancing, or samana, effect. Begin with a Sun Salutation series and standing poses to engage the body and mind. While doing these, try taking inhalations and exhalations of equal lengths. Movements that bring your focus from the center of the body to the periphery and back, and bilateral exercises, which require the left arm and the right leg (and the reverse) to work in unison, can help cultivate balance between focused attention and relaxed awareness.
Begin by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). To bring your mind into focus, inhale and sweep both arms out to your sides, up to shoulder height, then continue raising only your right arm overhead. On an exhalation, lower your right arm to shoulder height and bring both arms to your sides. Repeat several times, alternating arms.
See also Work It: Mountain Pose
Warrior Pose I, dynamic variation
Now, with your feet in position for Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I, dynamic variation) and standing near a wall, inhale to bend your front knee forward, and curl your fingers toward your palms while pulling your elbows back. Exhale, release your fists, and thrust your palms and arms forward, pushing your hands against the wall. Inhale to return to the warrior position. Exhale, release your arms, and straighten your front leg. Repeat this series 4 times on each side. Dynamic Warrior builds heat, energy, and focus; moving your arms forward and then pulling your elbows back opens your chest with each inhalation and draws your awareness to the lower belly on exhalations.
Tabletop-Child’s Pose-Cow Pose
Begin by coming onto all fours in Tabletop. Exhale your hips back toward your heels, while hugging your belly toward your spine to come into Balasana (Child’s Pose, modified). Inhale and come forward into Bitilasana (Cow Pose) with your chest and head lifted. Repeat this sequence 3 times.
Sunbird Pose, variation
Chakravakasana (Sunbird Pose, variation) requires you to engage the opposite arm and leg while directing your awareness from the core to the periphery and back, and from opposite fingers to opposite toes. From Tabletop Pose, come into Sunbird Pose on an inhalation by extending your right arm forward and left leg back, reaching from the central axis of your spine out to your fingertips and toes. Repeat this 6 times, alternating opposite arms and legs. Stay for 3 breaths in the pose on the last 2 rounds.
See also Straighten Out Your Slouch
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose) is symmetrical, which can bring your awareness back to your whole body. Begin by lying on your back, buttocks against a wall, with your knees toward your chest and hands resting at your sides. Inhale as you extend your arms overhead and lift your legs over the hips, letting them rest against the wall. Stay here anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Exhale to release, and hug your knees to your chest.
See also A Beginners’ Guide to Meditation
FIND YOUR BREATH
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate-Nostril Breathing)
Alternate-nostril breathing is a wonderful pranayama technique to help you feel centered, with a clear and bright mind for meditation. To start, inhale and exhale normally through both nostrils. Then, inhale through only the left nostril while closing off the right. Next close off the left nostril, and exhale through the right. Inhale through the right nostril, then close off the right nostril to exhale through the left. Do 12 rounds, pausing between breaths.