Cookies From The Kitchen
Practical hints for a practical life
When Mahatma Bill was here recently he gave a Knowledge review where he emphasized the practicality of the meditation techniques, Holy Name and Nectar. He demonstrated this by having premies practice meditation while jumping up and down, singing and eating.
Another thing he suggested was some simple stretching exercises to help premies sit up straight while in formal meditation. Picking up this thread Jeremy Taylor, a premie who teaches Hatha Yoga at the local YMCA, suggested these basic exercises. He stressed that regularity is the most important thing. "Do them for 5 or 10 minutes, but do them every day."
Though Holy Name and Nectar may be practiced all the time, sitting comfortably in meditation requires a strong, flexible body. Our day to day work may provide the strength but not usually the flexibility to sit for one hour with a straight back. To gain flexibility the body should be stretched regularly with a series of controlled exercises:
Exercise #1 - Stand erect with the feet together and stretch the arms above the head. Keeping the legs straight, exhale. Start bending forward from the base of the spine. Let the head, neck and arms hang down loosely. Relax in this pose for a few deep breaths. Then inhale and slowly draw the body up to an upright position again keeping the neck relaxed so that the head comes up last.
Now spread the feet apart and place the hands on the lower back and slowly bend backward from the base of the spine, allowing the head to fall back loosely. Hold for a moment and slowly come back up and bend forward again. Repeat several times. Very good in the morning.
Exercise #2 - Leg exercises to develop flexibility of the ankles, knees and hips. Sitting upright, flex the knees bringing the soles of the feet together and as close to you as possible. Hold the feet together with the hands. Using the leg muscles bounce the knees up and down gently. As the posture improves press the knees down with the hands. Do this exercise daily and eventually the knees will rest on the floor comfortably. (It's true!). Rest after each of these exercises by stretching the legs and bouncing the knees and shaking the feet.
Exercise #3 – With one leg stretched out, cradle the other leg in the arms with the sole of the foot in the crook of one arm and the knee in the crook of the other arm. Clasp the hands and draw the calf towards the chest and gently swivel from side to side. This exercise stretches the hamstring muscles as well.
Exercise #4 – Place the left foot on the top of the thigh of the outstretched right leg. With the hands turn the sole of the foot upwards and draw it close to the body. Press the knee down gently several times. Alternate with the right foot on the left thigh.
Exercise #5 – The Cobra – for the back. Lying on the stomach, forehead on the floor, feet stretched out, place the palms under the shoulders, inhale, and lift the head all the way up first, then lift the shoulders and chest in one smooth motion. Keep the elbows bent and the hips on the floor for the first two times. The third time, straighten the arms. Feel each vertibra pressing against the next one down the spine. Exhale and roll down with equal concentration.
Inspiration by the Grace of Sant Ji Maharaj
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