The purpose of the Opening Meditation is:
· to prepare the mind and body for your practice
· to center and ground
· to begin to move your attention from the external (plans, thoughts, worries, etc) to the internal (how you are actually feeling inside at the present moment).
· to bring you into awareness of the flow of your breath
Time can be as short as a few moments of concentrated breathing, to a long half hour seated meditation. There are many options for this:
· A few long, deep breaths
· Movement Meditation: Seated or standing deep breathing coordinated with gentle movement of the arms or the arms and trunk (See below for examples and this video)
· A seated mindfulness practice
· Seated pranayama
· Repeating a mantra or chanting
· Or any combination of the above
Choose your Opening Meditation based on the time of day, what your energy level is like, whether you are feeling healthy or sick, and what the goal of your practice is. Some examples:
1. If you wake up feeling tired and groggy, an energizing moving meditation will help bring you the energy you need to practice, such as standing and breathing in coordinating with arms lifting and lowering
2. If you have had a stressful day and want to do a calming afternoon/evening practice, you might start with a balancing Pranayama such as Alternate Nostril Breath or Tension Release Breath.
3. If you are feeling very stiff and want to start to loosen the body right away, you might start with Robin's Breath or another movement meditation.
4. If you are working towards a deep backbend as a goal for your asana practice, you could start with a standing movement meditation that would begin to open the shoulders and back such as the Spiral Arms Movement Meditiation
5. If you are going to do a gentle stretching practice in the evening before bed, you may like to begin with a mantra repetition or a few moments of meditation
6. If you wake up alert, you could start with a seated meditation
Robin's Breath- balancing, opens heart and shoulders and cultivates love and gratitude while also drawing energy inwards. Inhale to begin with hands at prayer. Exhale to round the spine and extend your hands forward. Inhale to open arms to sides while extending the spine, visualizing the love and energy of your heart space between your arms. Exhale to press your arms forward, offering the love an energy from your heart to the beings you love, or all sentient being. Inhale as you draw your hands back to heart center, imagining pulling some of that positive energy back in for yourself. Repeat.
Prana Mudra- Inhale extending arms over head. Exhale open arms with bent elbows while extending heart to the sky, feeling your body as a channel between earth and sky. Good for creating joy and an open heart. Good prep for backbends.
Kali or Durga Mudra- Interlock all fingers except pointers, imagining hands holding the sword of truth which the goddess uses to slice through illusion and ego. Inhald arms up, exhale arms forward as if cutting through the air with a sword. Good for a time when you are feeling confused, anxious, or doubting.
Spiral Arms- Palms face up the entire time. Inhale to begin by spiraling arms up overhead. Exhale as hands sweep the circle behind. Good for a heart opening practice.
Showering blessings- Inhale to lift arms forward and overhead with palms facing down towards your face. As you exhale your arms down the front of your body, imaging water flowing from a wave, a fountain, rain, or a shower, showering you with good blessings.
Grounding Mudra- With palms up, inhale to lift palms to chest level or higher. Exhale as you turn palms down to earth and press your palms and feet down towards the level of your hips. Helps to ground and center your energy.
Side Waist Opening- Inhale arms overhead. Exhale right arm to side and left arm up and over towards the right. Inhale back up overhead, exhale to other side.
Morning Stretch-Inhale reach arms forward and overhead as if just waking in the morning. Exhale arms down the sides.
6 movements Tai Ji Qi Gung 3-6 breaths each one: 1. Bouncing a beach ball slow-mo. 2. Morning Stretch. 3. Showering blessings. 4. Open the curtains. 5. Pushing the car. 6. Waving good-day.