Since I got back from the retreat, I’ve actually kept up a morning practice. I always do pranayama:
- 3 rounds Breath of Fire (60, 75, 90 reps, and 60, 75, 90 second retentions)
- 5–10 rounds Alternate Nostril Breathing (inhale 4, hold 16, exhale 8 )
Sometimes I add my favorite sequence ever: the Kundalini Spinal Warmup. It is great for days when you can’t bring yourself to practice vinyasa, or you’re really stiff, or you’re tired and can’t think, or your back hurts, or you have shoulder problems. Sitting in easy pose:
- Hands on knees: Flex spine forward and back, with Breath of Fire (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands on shoulders, elbows out: Rotate spine side to side, with Breath of Fire (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands clasped in front of heart (Bear Grip), pulling on each other: Rock alternate elbows up and down, with Deep Breathing (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands still clasped in front of heart: Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. Raise clasped hands above the head. Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. (3 times)
- Hands on knees. Inhale and hunch shoulders up to ears; exhale and drop them, with Breath of Fire (20 seconds – 2 minutes)
- Hands on knees. Tip chin to chest; inhale and roll head around in a circle, lifting from the jaw as it reaches the back. (5 times clockwise, 5 times counterclockwise)
- Sit on your heels (Rock Pose) and interlace your fingers above your head, index fingers extended to the sky. Close the eyes and focus between the eyebrows. Inhale and think Sat (truth); exhale and think Nam (named), using Breath of Fire. (2 minutes)
I always skip the last one for some reason.
Another great wakeup exercise is Spinal Jump Rope. Sitting in Easy Pose, with the hands on the knees:
- Focus on the navel. Gently start to spiral the lower back clockwise, making each loop a bit larger than the last. Inhale circle it forward and exhale circle it back. Visualize the navel like a sparkler tracing a circle in space. Continue for a couple minutes, then gently slow back to center and do the other direction.
- Focus on the heart. Same as before, but making gentle circles with the upper back.
- Focus on the throat. Same as before, but making gentle circles with the neck.
I did this a few weeks ago and couldn’t stop. My spine got really warmed up and the movement became completely unconscious. I was like a circling Sufi or something. Really weird.
Today I added 5 Sun Salutes; we’ll see if that sticks.