The answer to addressing loneliness through the yoga practice does not lie in the extremes of total solitude or always being with your community. Rather, it lies somewhere in between: a balance of connecting with the self in solitude while being mindful of who you spend the precious moments of your lives with. When you can’t be with those people, you need not unravel. Instead, look inside and remember you are always connected. Near or far. Because ultimately, as Ram Dass says, “We’re all just walking each other home.”
The sequence below is designed to help you practise pratyhara or withdrawal of the senses. When you practise nada yoga, you also notice how quickly you hear sounds and give them a label. In the same way, dirga breath allows you to experience at a cellular level the nature of who and what you are through the breath. Yoga nidra takes you to a state of deep relaxation where you can also feel who you are beyond the body and mind.
Lie on your back. Bend knees and take them together. Stretch the arms out in the shape of a “T”. Drop the knees over to the left. To deepen, place left hand to outer edge of right thigh. Let the legs be heavy. Take five breaths. Inhale the knees back to centre. Exhale and drop them to the other side.
Knees together, press the buttocks back to heels. Reach hands forward and lengthen the side body and spine. Anchor the buttocks firmly back on heels or block. On an inhale, keep the seat anchored but come to fingertips and crawl the hands forward, lengthening side waist and spine a little more. On an exhale, place the palms back down. Place the forehead on the earth or block. Feel the connection of ajna chakra, the third eye centre, between the eyebrows on the earth or block. Relax the neck and allow the head to be heavy.
Virasana with nada yoga
Come to a kneeling position sitting back on the heels. Elevate your seat with a blanket, cushion or block. Take a moment to notice how your body, mind and breath feel. Shift your attention to listening. Notice sounds around you. Hear the most distant sounds. Be aware of how quickly you shift into making meaning to sound. When you hear a bird, you label it, “There’s a bird.” Instead, can you try to just hear a sound for what it is? A vibration, and then move on to the next sound. Over time, listen to sounds closer and closer, until you are hear the soft sound of your breath. Turn your listening inwards. Can you hear your heart beating, your blood flowing? What else can you hear? Sit and listen to your internal landscape.
Dirga pranayama — three-part yogic breath
Lying on your back, legs extended. Relax the body and notice quality of the breath. Check if the inhale and exhale is even. Is one easier? Is one nostril freer? Place hands on the lower belly. As you inhale a little deeper, breathe into the lower belly, feel the belly rise. As you exhale, the belly falls. Do this for a few breaths. When you’re ready, inhale fill the lower belly, abdomen and ribs. Fill the side and back ribs, and exhale let the breath go. Do this for a few breaths. Finally, breathe into lower belly, ribs and all the way up to the collar bones and chest. Whole body fills with breath. Exhale let the breath go. Take another five rounds of this three-part yogic breath.
Still lying on the back. Move your awareness to each body part and relax it as we go. Shift your attention to your right hand and relax. Right wrist. Forearm. Elbow. Upper arm. Shoulder. Right side of the waist. Right hip. Thigh. Knee. Shin. Ankle. Foot. Calf. Back of thigh. Buttock. The whole right side of the body relaxes. Shift awareness to left hand. Left wrist. Forearm. Elbow. Upper arm. Shoulder. Left side of the waist. Hip. Thigh. Knee. Shin. Ankle. Foot. Calf. Back of thigh. Buttock. The whole left side of the body relaxes. Awareness to crown of head, scalp, forehead. Eyebrows. Nose. Jaw. Teeth. Tongue. Lips. Chin. Throat. Chest. Belly. Pelvis. Lower back. Middle back. Upper back. Neck. Front of the body. Back of the body. The whole body relaxes. Relax for a few moments. Take a deep breath in, and out.
Written By Rachel Coopes and published on www.wellbeing.com.au/