As you probably may have heard, today, much of the Western world got to enjoy the spectacle of a solar eclipse. From a physical point of view, getting to watch the eclipse and experience it first hand was rather exciting. However, on an energetic level, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling pooped.
The total (for some; my region saw about ~80%) eclipse was the first in 38 years for North America, bringing with it some seriously pent up energy. It was powerful and, if you were prepared for it, maybe you made space prior for some shifts to occur. If not, you’re not alone, and maybe you’re feeling a little more drained or on edge than usual.
Feeling rather inspired by the union of the sun and the moon this afternoon (yes, I’m one of those peeps that made space for serious shifts), I decided to put together a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style yoga flow. This practice is very restorative and meditative in nature; however, if you’re short for time, this practice can be completed in less than twenty minutes. On the other hand, if you’re looking to put on an hour of chill tunes and release, the option to extend the practice is also available to you.
This practice is perfect for any stressful, busy, or tiring day, not just on the days of any lunar or solar phenomena.
Before you begin: Honor yourself! Move with ease and really allow yourself to unwind, if only for a short while. There is no need to push or force through these postures. Once you make your way into each pose, let yourself soften and settle. BREATHE. Notice the breath, always. You may blanket and cushion wherever is necessary (under knees, ankles, hips, head, etc); please, please be mindful of any injuries. Absolutely by-pass any poses that are painful.
You will need: a yoga mat or blanket, pillows, yoga blocks (optional) *I also recommend setting a timer for extended poses.
Seated Meditation (2-5 minutes)
Begin in a comfortable, seated position. I’ve chosen to take Hero’s Pose, palms up for receiving energies. To modify: blanket under the hips or sit on blocks, take a position that works best for your body.
Close the eyes, soften the face; start to observe the rhythm of your breath. Create an awareness of the breath, including the moving of the body with every inhale and exhale.
Bring your attention next to the rest of the body. Notice and take inventory of any kinks, stiffness, or tension you may be holding.
Lastly, without judgement, turn your attention to the mind. See if you can begin to observe the thoughts. There is no need to criticize yourself, or force the thoughts away. Simply notice them and allow them to pass. Aim not to hold attachment to any particular thought during your practice.
*Attempt to monitor the breath, the body, and the mind through out the practice today. Especially during long holds! Use the time to cultivate awareness of your self.
Child’s Pose (1-5 minutes)
From your seated meditation, prepare for child’s pose. Coming into Hero’s Pose (see above), begin to walk the hands out, allowing the head and chest to melt towards the ground. Rest the forehead centre on the floor or a cushion. Sink into the hips as the tail melts to the floor. This pose is the embodiment of surrender.
To modify: blanket under the knees, blanket between the knees and the thighs, cushion under the forehead, tuck the arms back along the sides if the shoulders experience pain.
To come out: lift up onto hands and knees, coming into Tabletop position.
Cow & Cat Flow (Repeat 3-5 times)
From Tabletop, prepare for Cow Pose. As you inhale, allow the belly to fill with air and sink towards the ground. The “tail” lifts as the lower and mid-back arches. There is an opening in the chest and mild arch of the upper back. Keep the gaze on the floor while the head lifts. Be mindful not to crunch the neck.
As you exhale, prepare to move into Cat Pose. Again, starting at base of the spine, tuck the “tail” and begin to round the spine away, one vertebrae at a time. Push the spine towards the ceiling, until the head and neck round at last, dropping between the arms. Be mindful not to push your weight back into your legs here. Tuck the toes in Cat to prevent sitting back.
After your cycles, return to a neutral spine in Tabletop.
Walk the Dog (5-10 breaths)
From Tabletop, press into the fingers and tuck the toes under. Begin to lift the hips towards the sky for Downward Dog. Make sure the shoulders stay tight and engaged, not outstretching. Bend the knees and walk the feet out, pressing each heel to the floor one at a time. I often say here – this does not need to look “pretty”, it just has to feel pretty sweet, you feel me? Add in some hip shimmies and twists for more sensation.
To modify: take pressure off of the wrists by coming to the forearms for Dolphin Pose.
Pigeon Pose (1-4 minutes each side)
From Downward Dog, as you inhale, lift the right leg up and in as you make your way to Pigeon. Bring the right knee to meet the inside of the right hand; if the right hip is lifted, place a blanket or cushion under the hip/buttock to take pressure off of the knee. Make sure the left leg is long behind, unless pain persists. – in which case, bend the left knee and bring the knee in toward the body. As I said before, today (and every day) is about honouring the body.
Once you have the foundation, you have the option for a Tall Pigeon or Sleepy Pigeon. Depending on how much time you have available, you could even spend a little time in both. Tall Pigeon offers more of a backbend while Sleepy Pigeon offers more restorative benefits.
As you can see, I’ve thrown in a humble prayer mudra during my Sleepy Pigeon. This is available, or simply arms outrsteched or supporting under the head. You can also bolster up under your Sleepy Pigeon for ultimate relaxation.
To modify: cushion or block under hip of bent leg, bend the knee of rear leg, fold into Sleepy Pigeon, bolster or cushion under chest and/or head during Sleepy Pigeon.
To come out: press into hands and push into Downward Dog or Tabletop to Downward Dog. Repeat on the left side.
Supported Forward Fold (2-5 minutes)
From Downward Dog, begin to lower the knees, returning to a seated position. Extend the legs long in front and stack a bolster and cushion (or a few couch cushions, as pictured) in your lap. As you exhale, let yourself round and sink into the cushions. Loop the fingers around the big toes, or simply hug the pillows in your lap. Soften and surrender.
To modify: sit tall and don’t allow the spine to round so much, blanket under the hips, bend the knees to help release tight hamstrings.
To come out: sit up slowly, being mindful of the spine as you come upright. Take a few breaths in from a tall posture and then offer the chest a soft, subtle opening by taking the hands behind you and leaning back into them.
Prepare blocks, a bolster, or a stack of pillows behind you before reclining back. Once you have arranged your props, bring the soles of the feet together, knees out wide at the sides, and begin to recline.
Let the arms fall away at the sides. Relax the head and neck. Soften the muscles of the face. See if you can draw your attention to your heart in this pose, allowing for the heart centre to open up and receive some powerful, loving energy. You are so loved.
To modify: place blocks or cushions under the knees to stabilize the hips and pelvis, option to skip heart opener and stick to Reclined Cobbler’s.
To come out: bring the knees in together and feet to the floor, come onto your forearms, carefully lift up, remove blocks out of the way, and recline onto your back.
Hug the Knees (5-10 breaths)
Once on your back, hug the knees in toward the belly. Offer the lower back a bit of a gentle massage by rolling with ease from side to side.
Easy Spinal Twist (1-5 minutes each side)
With the knees at the centre of the body, begin to drop them towards the right until they meet the ground. The legs can splay a bit here if your muscles feel tight, or you can cushion under the legs on the right side. Gaze either over the left shoulder or up at the ceiling. I like to support my knees with my right hand while my left arm is out long at the side of my body.
To come out: bring the knees back to centre, offer some gentle rolls to the lower back, and repeat on the other side.
Savasana (5-10 minutes)
Extend the legs long; let the ankles and feet splay. Let the arms fall out at the sides, palms up towards the sky. Close the eyes and relax the muscles of the face. Bring your attention to the body; begin to let go of any tension as you melt into the mat.
Seek stillness within the body and mind. That is ultimately the goal of Corpse Pose. From a place of total stillness, you are able to then connect with your Highest Self through your open heart. Focus your energy and attention into your heart space, perhaps offering gratitude or appreciation for yourself, for the Universal energy available to you, and for taking time to relax, restore, and tune in.
Take your time coming out of the pose. Roll onto your right side and push yourself up into a seated position when you are ready.
Be sure to reflect after your practice on any changes in your body, mind, or overall energy. Let me know how your experience of the practice goes! What came up for you? How did you enjoy this practice? Your feedback is so valued! As well, feel free to share any Solar Eclipse wisdom you’ve received, or any magical photos you managed to capture of your experience today!