We recommend doing these exercises under or in view of a willow tree. If that isn't possible, visualise a willow instead. The energy of the tree strengthens the effect of the exercises.
Flexibility, Part 1
a) Stand up straight and stretch your left arm horizontally to the left. As you breathe in, lift your right leg to the side, as high as you can. Let it down slowly again as you breathe out. Your arm should stay horizontal. 2 minutes. Don't change sides, this exercise is designed just to be done like this.
Stimulates the brain and stretches the right sciatic nerve.
b) Place your feet hip-width apart; as you breathe out, take your arm in a curve over your head while bending down to the right. At the same time see how far towards the ground your right arm can slide down your leg. Breathe in, straighten, breathe out and repeat the exercise on the other side. Watch out that you don't bend forwards or backwards. 25 times on each side.
Stretches the main back muscles and intercostal muscles (important for breathing).
c) Place your feet hip-width apart, stand tall and pull up your pelvic floor muscles. Clasp your hands behind your back. As you breathe in, lift your chest, bend your neck and bend backwards, stretching your arms downwards and away from your body. Then as you breathe out keeping your pelvic floor contracted, bend forwards, bringing your head down towards your knees and stretch your arms away from your body.
Increases the flexibility of the thoracic vertebrae.
Flexibility, Part 2
a) Bend down and place both hands just above your right knee. With a straight back, stretch your left leg to the back so that your leg and upper body are horizontal to the ground. Breathe long and deep. Keep your eyes focused on one point on the ground to help keep your balance. 1 minute 30 seconds, then change sides.
This exercise enhances balance and reduces the chance of degenerative disease developing.
You can support yourself on the tree or a wall.
b) Assume the crouching pose. (Feet hip-width or slightly more apart, heels flat on the floor, back of the head elevated.) Place your hands around your ankles. As you breathe in, stretch your legs bringing your head towards your knees. As you breathe out, come back to crouching again. 2 minutes.
You may want to place your hands just above your knees and just bring your bottom down as far as you can.
c) Place your feet as wide apart as you can (about 90 cm or so); support your hands on your hips with your fingers pointing backwards and your thumbs forwards. Tense your pelvic floor muscles, lift your chest, and bend backwards as far as possible as you breathe in. As you breathe out, bend forwards and see if you can touch the ground with your head. 1-3 minutes.
Bending forwards is about being able to humble yourself.
Flexibility, Part 3
a) Place your feet hip-width apart and stretch your arms over your head, palms facing forwards. Keep your pelvic floor elevated, lift your chest, and bend your upper body as far back as you can. Close your eyes. Firebreathe (p. 47). 1-3 minutes.
The ability to bend backwards is to do with trust, being able to open yourself and give service. This pose strongly exercises the forth open yourself and give service. This pose strongly exercises the forth
b) Place your feet about 50 cm apart. Stretch up your arms up so that they are about 60 degrees apart; your palms are open and face the front. Spread your fingers wide and shut your eyes. Long, deep breaths. 2 minutes.
Attune yourself even deeper to the tree.
(standing, sitting, or lying) 1-11 minutes
Listen to the murmuring of the leaves and branches, and the stillness that envelops everything.
Meditation for health and wellbeing
(YB 3 March 1978)
Sit with your legs crossed and hold your hands at the level of your diaphragm in the Shambavi Mudra. Your right hand palm up, lying in your left hand, with your left thumb lying in the palm of your right hand, and right thumb resting on left thumb. Let your breath flow in and out freely. Your eyes are open about 1/10, your gaze directed to the end of your nose.
Keeping your eyes about 1/10 open helps you to stay present and not drift away in this meditation.
'As soon as you start holding this pose you'll start to feel very comfortable in yourself.
As you become the seed at the centre of life, nature will start to serve you. This is the easiest way to live in harmony.
See if you can break through the barriers of time and space. The same energy that prevents us can also help us to break through.' (Yogi Bhajan)
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