Believe it or not, untying knots relaxes me.  It could be the kids shoelaces, a gnarly necklace or actually my body.  I find my breath slows, I focus, and my fingers gain a deep awareness of what I’m working with.  And sometimes, the knot won’t come out.  I put it aside and return to it with a little more softness, a little more pure intention.  Me and the knot in this beautiful dance of getting to know each other.

What relaxes you? What activity or non-activity gives you that vital downtime to bring on balance?  Write some of your thoughts in your journal and dig a little deeper as to why that specific thing relaxes you.  Maybe it is just the act of journaling, Surprise!  Read down to the end of the this week’s blog for one more additional “fun” activity.

The Breath
Buzzing Bee Breath (Brahmari Breath)
On the spot relaxation, soothing.
Sit comfortably either on the floor or in a chair with spine straight and shoulders relaxed.  Hand placement is as follows:
Index and middle fingers of each hand lay across the eyes. Can place one at brow line and one on bridge of nose.  Ring fingers touch at upper lip.  Thumbs gently placed at indentation by ears. The pinkie fingers can rest on the lower part of the face or just hang there.  Breathe in and on the exhale, make a buzzing sound until all air is exhaled. Begin again with the deep inhale, exhale with the buzzing sound.  Continue for at least 5 breaths until you feel a sense of peace, calm wash over you.  If you feel like you are forcing the exhale, come back to your normal breath.

The Poses
Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Props: 4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow

Extras: blanket for warmth, strap for legs
Benefits: Expands the chest muscles, opens the lungs, balances the glands, quiets the nerves and releases tension in the nervous system, increases oxygen intake to the brain, can stimulate the immune system (thyroid)

Make two stacks of two double or triple fold blankets on top of each other.  Placed the two stacks end to end. Height and width of blankets can be adjusted for your body.  Sit down straddling one of the stacks and carefully lower yourself down onto forearms, swing your legs on to other stack and lie down. Neck roll is placed at top stack, lower shoulder and head to floor.  Neck is supported by neck roll and head is completely flat on floor with forehead and chin on the same plane.  Arms stretched out to the sides. The stacks of blankets should be long enough for the entire body to be resting on including the feet.  Option to put strap around calves if the legs are rolling outward.  Stay for up to 15 minutes. Roll off blankets slowly and bring knees to chest with some movement.

Supported Childs Pose (Balasana)

Props: bolster, two blocks, 2-3 blankets

Benefits: Gently stretches the lower back, relieves shoulder tension and quiets the mind.  Give a sense of security. Feeling support and release.
Extras:sandbag for sacrum

Place the two blocks at either the lowest or medium height, equidistant from each other bolster lengthwise on top of blocks. A s-fold or triple fold blanket on top of bolster.  It may be more comfortable without blocks.  Legs straddle the props at one end, and lengthen body over them. Head will rest on props.  Additional blanket(s) may be used behind knees. Ideally props should extend all the way to the pelvis area but this may not be the case with your body structure.   Stay here for 10 minutes to begin with, rotating head side to side. 

Smile and the World Smiles with You
Draw in your journal, a picture of your inner smile.  What shape does it take, any colors, is nature involved, people, animals, your internal organs?  Here is my rendition of my inner smile (please remember that yours truly is not an artist)

From the Raja Yoga Philosophy Leaflet (Author Unknown)

Smiling is infectious
you catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today, 
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner, 
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled, I realized
I’d passed it onto him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realized it’s worth.
A single smile, just like mine,
could travel around the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, 
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick, 
and get the world infected!