Later on in the summer, my girls will be away from me for a whole 3 weeks!  This will be a first for us and I’m fluctuating between emotions of  “Oh my I will miss them (heart strings pulled)” and elation of having “me” time.  But what I think will be the biggest change will be the noise level.  It will be so quiet, cricket quiet.  That will be weird, daunting and will take some getting used to.  I will want to fill the space, the void with music from my iPod, shows from Netflix and calls to anyone who will talk to me.  But silence doesn’t equate loneliness and doesn’t need to be filled.  In my last blog, I wrote about taking a retreat at home.  This is what I will do.

A year or so ago, I was listening to NPR and a scientist was on speaking about all the noise in this world of ours and that there are few places on earth that do not include human-made noise.  His project titled, One Square Inch of Silence is a lifelong campaign to protect our natural spaces and silence in our national parks.  Check out the link to get more information on this project.  In Search of Silence. What if you had a day to yourself to not speak or be spoken to?  Read below for ideas to capture if not a day, a few moments, minutes of silence.  After trying a few, journal about your experience.

The Poses
Wide Angle Forward Fold (Upavishta Konasana)

Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets
Benefits: releases the pelvis which can help release tension in the buttocks, hips, belly and lower back.  Quiets the organs of digestion and elimination. Opens lower back area. As head rests on bolster, releases tension in frontalis where we hold stress in contracted state. Cooling and calming to overall body and provides a nice transition from day. Can help with sleep.

Depending upon the length of your torso, you may or may not need the blocks under the bolster.  A double-folded blanket folded over one more time adds height and comfort.  Place as many of these as you need on top of the bolster. Cushions and pillows are also good.  You will straddle the props bringing them in as close to your body as possible to support you as you forward fold.  Rub hands together to warm up the hands and gently cup them over the eyes and rest on the elbows on the bolster. Avoid too much pressure on the eyes.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Can add blanket rolls under the knees. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with.

Legs up the Wall Variation

Props: bolster, 2 blocks, 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, neck roll
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep. Great variation if your hamstrings are tight or legs are aching.

Begin with using a double-folded blanket to be placed right above sacrum or under hips (see photo), setting it approx. distance 6-8″ from bolster (adjust in pose). Sit down on the blanket and place your legs on the bolster.  Arms rest by your side, palms face up or with Goddess arms.  
Variations: To ground legs, blanket or sandbag placed on belly or legs.  Strap can be placed around calves, so you lose the feeling of holding up legs.  

Reclined Twist
Props: bolster, 3 blankets, wall
Benefits: Allows breath to come in to the rib cage and belly more freely. Can reduce high blood pressure. Relieves fatigue and insomnia.   Gentle twist to move digestive system. 

Place bolster and a blanket on top of bolster lengthwise on your mat. Sit at bottom of boster and extend upper body to lay over bolster.  Bottom leg is straight with sole of foot touching the wall, upper leg is bent and rest on stack of blankets.    Adjust as she stay in pose.  Additional blanket on lower back to ease tension.  After 5 or more minutes, turn and do the other side.

Seize the Silence

Yoga Journal in its June 2009 edition presented a few good ideas for restoring yourself, aligning with nature, resetting yourself and finding balance by seizing some time with silence.  Try these out yourself and with your loved ones.

  • Invite your family to join you in eating a meal in silence.
  • Find a labyrinth and walk it in silence (Lansdale has one on E. Hancock Street, Stony Creek Park)
  • Commit to a day without speech. Prepare family and friends ahead of time so they know what to expect.
  • Take a one-day sabbatical from email, phones, TV and radio.
  • Spend a few quiet hours alone in nature.
  • For one day, perform household or gardening chores in silence.