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Friday, April 4, 2014, 2:52 PM
“Lie down in a comfortable place, with your arms and legs extended. Imagine lying at the edge of the sea on an empty beach. The tide is coming in. Gentle waves lap at your feet and ankles and very slowly move up your body until you are immersed in shallow water. As the water rises, feel yourself floating; let the rhythmic currents draw you out to sea. Feel the waves beneath you as you glide up and down. When you’re ready, roll over onto your stomach, and ride the crest of a wave back to shore, landing on the smooth, warm sand. Stay there and relax in the profound calm.”
“Meditate on a candle. Once you have stabilized your vision of the flame, visualize it rising from the candle and floating into your heart. See the flame’s light growing within you, becoming a warm magenta color. Let this magenta-colored light surround your body like an aura, radiating peace and self-love. When the time feels right, watch the flame return to normal. As the visualization ends, keep the warmth and strength of that inner love and peace within you.”
“See yourself lying on a patch of thick, fragrant green grass on a hillside, under an old elm tree. The sky is spotted with full, puffy white clouds that float slowly across the blue expanse. The temperature in the air is the same as that on your skin. You take many deep breaths, concentrating on how relaxing they are. See and feel yourself float into your surroundings, looking all around. Still floating, travel to a different place, such as a forest or a beach. Look. Smell. Feel. When you are ready to end this journey, imagine yourself back on the hillside, under the elm tree. It is now sunset. Take another deep breath and remember everything you felt during this meditation.”
“Sit and breathe. Now think of yourself as a pebble falling through clear water. Sink through the water — without intention — toward a resting spot on the gentle sand at the water’s bottom. Let your mind and body come to rest, like the pebble resting in the sand. Watch your breath and hold this image for a half hour.”...psychcentral.com
Friday, April 4, 2014, 2:50 PM
The three breathing practices that follow—relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing; Sitali (or Sitkari) Pranayama; and gentle "extended exhale" breathing—are a good introduction to pranayama. Each supports the parasympathetic nervous system, quiets the mind, and helps to bring about a state of more focused attention. As you continue to practice these techniques over time, you may start to notice when you are unintentionally holding your breath or breathing shallowly. You also may begin to associate patterns of the breath with your moods or states of mind. This self awareness is the first step toward using the practices of pranayama to help shift your patterns and, through regular practice, create positive change in your life.
Try each practice daily for a week and observe how it affects your body, breath, and mind in order to figure out which is best for you. You can do them at just about any time of day, though preferably not immediately following a large meal.
Basic Breath Awareness
This gentle introduction to diaphragmatic breathing teaches you how to breathe more fully and consciously.
Benefits: Quiets and calms the entire nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety and improving self-awareness.
Try it: At least once a day, at any time.
How to: Lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip-distance apart. Place a palm on your abdomen and breathe comfortably for a few moments, noticing the quality of your breath. Does the breath feel tense? strained? uneven? shallow? Simply observe the breath without any judgment. Then gradually begin to make your breathing as relaxed and smooth as possible, introducing a slight pause after each inbreath and outbreath.
Once the breath feels relaxed and comfortable, notice the movement of the body. As you inhale, the abdomen naturally expands; as you exhale, feel the slight contraction of the abdomen. In a gentle way, try to actively expand the abdomen on the inhale and contract the abdomen on the exhale to support the natural movement of the diaphragm and experience the pleasure of giving yourself a full, relaxed breath. Continue the practice for 6 to 12 breaths.
The Cooling Breath
Sitali Pranayama is often translated as "the cooling breath" because the act of drawing the air across the tongue and into the mouth is said to have a cooling and calming effect on the nervous system. To practice Sitali, you need to be able to curl the sides of your tongue inward so that it looks like a straw. The ability to curl the tongue is a genetic trait. If you can't, try an alternative technique called Sitkari Pranayama, which offers the same effects.
Benefits: Can improve focus; reduce agitation, anger, and anxiety; and pacify excess heat in the system.
Try it: Twice a day, or as needed during stressful times. Sitali and Sitkari Pranayama are particularly supportive when you're feeling drowsy in the morning or during an afternoon slump when you need to improve your focus.
How to: Sitali Pranayama: Sit comfortably, either in a chair or on the floor, with your shoulders relaxed and your spine naturally erect. Slightly lower the chin, curl the tongue lengthwise, and project it out of the mouth to a comfortable distance. Inhale gently through the "straw" formed by your curled tongue as you slowly lift your chin toward the ceiling, lifting only as far as the neck is comfortable. At the end of the inhalation, with your chin comfortably raised, retract the tongue and close the mouth. Exhale slowly through the nostrils as you gently lower your chin back to a neutral position. Repeat for 8 to 12 breaths.
Sitkari Pranayama: Open the mouth slightly with your tongue just behind the teeth. Inhale slowly through the space between the upper and lower teeth, letting the air wash over your tongue as you raise your chin toward the ceiling. At the end of the inhalation, close the mouth and exhale through the nostrils as you slowly lower your chin back to neutral. Repeat for 8 to 12 breaths.
The Long Exhale
This 1:2 breathing practice, which involves gradually increasing your exhalation until it is twice the length of your inhalation, relaxes the nervous system.
Benefits: Can reduce insomnia, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
Try it: Before bedtime to help support sleep, in the middle of the night when you're struggling with insomnia, or at any time of the day to calm stress or anxiety. (In general, it's best to avoid practicing 1:2 breathing first thing in the morning unless you're experiencing anxiety. The relaxing effects of the practice tend to make it more difficult to get up and go on with your day.)
How to: Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place a palm on the abdomen and take a few relaxed breaths, feeling the abdomen expand on the inhalation and gently contract on the exhalation. With your palm on your abdomen, mentally count the length of each inhalation and exhalation for several more breaths. If the inhalation is longer than the exhalation, you can begin to make them the same length over the next few breaths.
Once your inhalation and exhalation are equal, gradually increase the length of your exhalation by 1 to 2 seconds by gently contracting the abdomen. As long as the breath feels smooth and relaxed, continue to gradually increase the exhalation by 1 to 2 seconds once every few breaths. Make sure you experience no strain as the exhalation increases and keep going until your exhalation is up to twice the length of the inhalation, but not beyond. For example, if your inhalation is comfortably 4 seconds, do not increase the length of your exhalation to more than 8 seconds.
Keep in mind that even an exhalation that is only slightly longer than the inhalation can induce a calming effect, so take care that you don't push yourself beyond your capacity. (If you do, you'll likely activate the sympathetic nervous system, or stress response, and feel agitated rather than calm.)
If your breath feels uncomfortable or short, or if you're gasping on the next inhalation, back off to a ratio that is more comfortable for 8 to 12 breaths. Then finish your practice with 6 to 8 natural, relaxed breaths....http://www.yogajournal.com/
Friday, April 4, 2014, 2:46 PM
Meditation connects us to our innate kindness, like that of a mother watching her new born and making sure all is well. This kindness is within us all, though we may be out of touch with it. Meditation is paying attention to what is happening within and around us, and it changes us because through it we widen our perspective from being me-centered to other-centered; we go from being only able to see ourselves and our own viewpoints to seeing a much bigger picture that contains everythingthrough compassionate and kind eyes.
We open our heart to ourselves with tenderness, seeing ourselves just as we are, maybe for the first time, opening with a heart as big as the Universe. In the same way we open to all others, seeing them just as they are, without likes or dislikes prejudicing our view. Which immediately shows us that, fundamentally, there is no difference between us. Out of this arises a natural, impartial kindness.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. The Dalai Lama
1 Become a friend to yourself
It’s inevitable when we sit quietly with meditation as a companion that we will discover a new level of self-acknowledgment and self-friendship. We are kinder and more accepting of who we are, less concerned with superficial appearances or image.
2 Think of others equally
As we open to ourselves we become more aware that we are not alone here, that there is an intricate inter-dependence between all beings: we all want to be happy, and we are all doing our best to fulfill that. We see that no one is more important than another.
3 Be forgiving
As we see that all beings are striving to find happiness so we can be more tolerant, accepting, caring and forgiving of each other. We all make mistakes – if we didn’t then we would be like robots rather than humans. As we can forgive ourselves for mistakes, we can forgive others. Perfection is our ability to see our (or their) imperfections!
4 Do random acts
Kindness doesn’t need to be applauded. In fact, often the greatest act of kindness is that which goes unseen. A simple smile can sometimes be the greatest gift of all. Practice kindness wherever and however you can.
5 Pick yourself up every time you fall
Giving kindness includes giving it to ourselves. We are often hard on ourselves, finding fault, criticizing, or feeling embarrassed of perceived mistakes. Meditation creates an inner strength and confidencethat enables us to get up over and over again. And if we get up just one time more than we fall then we can’t fail!
We have a photograph at home of Bishop Tutu with his hands held in prayer position. Underneath it are his words, Please make it fashionable to be compassionate. That photograph is many years old yet his words are even more relevant today. Is it not time to make compassion fashionable, to make kindness cool, to make consideration and care hot topics?
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. The Dalai Lama
Whenever we get stressed we tend to close our hearts toward others. We get a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude—nothing matters but our own issues. By developing a more loving and caring attitude, we find more joy and certainly less stress.
Every time you feel rushed, irritated, annoyed or upset, sit quietly and silently repeat: May I be happy orMay I be filled with loving kindness.
If you can do this for one day then follow it the next day with: May you be well or May you be happy to each person you see or meet. It’s important not to tell them—just feel it in your heart. You can do this to people in an elevator, at work, in the street or at home.
Silently repeat May you be filled with loving kindness when your partner or boss is upset or angry with you, or when someone is criticizing you. The more you do this, the more you’ll release the hook inside yourself so that anger cannot land.
If a day feels easy, try a whole week. Let friendliness and kindness grow within you. Make it your goal to become a more loving and kinder person.....http://vividlife.me/
Friday, April 4, 2014, 2:41 PM
The power of love is universally recognized and has been used in ancient healing traditions in cultures throughout the world. Today, Western physicians acknowledge its benefits to the immune system, while psychologists agree that it does wonders for mental health. Both the yoga and Buddhist teachings provide us with meditations designed to free ourselves of negative emotions that interfere with our ability to love.
This battle of the heart is dramatically represented in the Bhagavad Gita, a classic Indian story about the conflict between two families. Although that conflict appears to be a conflict against external enemies, it is really the internal battle we wage within our own hearts.
Patanjali's thirty-third sutra describes a four-part process of clearing the heart of impure thoughts as a way to quiet the mind. He advises cultivating maitri (friendliness) toward pleasure and friends; karma (compassion) for those who are in pain or suffering, yourself included; mudita(rejoicing) or joyful acknowledgement of the noble or holy ones (including those who have helped you, those you admire, and your family); and upeksanam (indifference) to unholiness—in other words, equanimity toward those who have harmed you. As you can see, collectively these four stages sound remarkably like the "Love thy neighbor as thyself" sentiment we're all familiar with.
The following instructions guide you through a full meditation that includes the fourfold stages or attitudes Patanjali taught in his Yoga Sutra. It is both practical and profound. With regular practice, this meditation will guide you toward a better relationship with yourself, those you are close to, and the world around you.
Loving Your Enemies Meditation
This meditation will take anywhere from five to 20 minutes, or even longer if you wish. The important thing is to be comfortable with it. You don't really need to time yourself. However, we recommend staying in Stages 1 and 2 for one to two minutes each; in Stage 3 for three to five minutes; and in Stage 4 for five to 15 minutes.
1. Get into a comfortable, seated position, either in a chair with your legs uncrossed, or on the floor. Adjust your posture so that your spine is upright, yet your body feels relaxed. Rest your hands in your lap or on your thighs, with the palms facing up or down.
2. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing. Take a few conscious and deep abdominal breaths. Let your exhalations carry out any tension or anxiety you're feeling now, and use them throughout your meditation to expel any tension or anxiety that comes up.
If it is helpful, you may use the previously recommended affirmations—"I am" on the in-breath and "calm and relaxed" on the out-breath—to center yourself during this practice.
3. Bring your awareness to your heart. Allow your breaths to massage this area. Notice any specific feelings or thoughts you may have about yourself, people you know, or any particular event. Cultivate a detached and nonjudgmental attitude to anything that comes up for you.
4. Continue to focus on the heart area while doing the following:
- Cultivate a friendly and accepting attitude toward yourself and your friends.
- Develop feelings of compassion and understanding for all those who suffer.
- Be joyful in your thoughts about a particular person who's important to you or a saint or guru you hold in high esteem.
- Maintain feelings of indifference and equanimity to anyone who has harmed you or anyone else. Don't get sucked into their mean-spiritedness or harmful deeds.
5. To complete your meditation, take three to five deep abdominal breaths. Open your eyes and slowly get up.
Allow the focus of this meditation to be the fourfold stages of opening your heart in order to clear your mind. Realize, however, that it also incorporates other elements common to all forms of meditation: choosing a stable and comfortable position, awareness of breath, use of affirmation, and imagery. It's all right if only one of the stages dominates the meditation. For example, you may be drawn to the concern for a friend who is in pain, or you may want to focus on the life's work of someone who inspires you. No better advice can be given here than to—literally—listen to your heart!...http://www.yogajournal.com/
Friday, April 4, 2014, 2:35 PM
Breath is life! Exchange of electrons. Transference of energy. Survival without the breath is measured in minutes. It is so important that you do it without thinking. Your breathing is the voice of your spirit. It’s depth, smoothness, sound, and rate reflect your mood. If you become aware of your breath and breathe the way you do when you are calm you will become calm. Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing. With the addition of music and it’s rhythm, the “musical breath” can even help stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders. Fall into the rhythm of the music and breathe. Focus on your breathing and the music.
Focusing on breathing is one of the most common and fundamental techniques for accessing the meditative state. Breath is a deep rhythm of the body that connects us intimately with the world around us.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply and regularly, and observe your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Give your full attention to the breath as it comes in, and full attention to the breath as it goes out. Whenever you find your attention wandering away from your breath, gently pull it back to the rising and falling of the breath.
Inhale through your nose slowly and deeply, feeling the lower chest and abdomen inflate like a balloon. Hold for five seconds. Exhale deeply, deflating the lower chest and abdomen like a balloon. Hold for five seconds. Do this three or four times, then allow your breathing to return to a normal rhythm....http://omtimes.com/
Saturday, December 14, 2013, 3:00 AM
Although meditation can be done anywhere under any circumstance, when you are starting a practice it helps to create a favorable environment. You should be seated comfortably in a well-ventilated and temperate room. Sit with your spine erect and your shoulders back and relaxed. Gently close your eyes and relax your facial muscles. Rest your hands on your lap. Send a thought to your entire body to let go of any tension. You will know you are ready to continue when you feel your body resting comfortably yet your mind remains alert. Draw your attention to your breath. Become aware of the gentle and rhythmic flow of your inhalation and exhalation. If you notice that your mind wanders to other things, like what you are going to cook for dinner, simply return your attention back to the breath. Do not berate yourself, which will only take you further away from your meditation. Be kind to yourself as you begin this journey. Do not be impatient. Keep returning your mind to your breath as often as you need to. As you continue to watch your breathing with your mind you will find that your busy mind does begin to quiet. You can simply continue this mindful breathing as your meditation practice and see the results of a calmer body and mind. If you wish to develop and enrich your meditation practice there are many different approaches to take. A classic meditative approach is to focus on an object in your mind. You can choose anything from a candle flame to a religious symbol. Choose a symbol that means something to you personally and that will help you to feel calm. Dont feel hampered by what others have done before you whatever brings you peace is whats important. Another simple approach is to repeat a word or phrase to yourself, also known as a mantra. Some recommended mantras are Om, peace, serenity, and love. Once again, your choice should reflect your own personal needs and desires. The meditative methods discussed so far have all been practices done sitting down, but there are many other options. If you are the type of person who does not like to sit still then you may wish to start with a more active meditation practice. Yoga and tai chi are classic moving meditations. The fact is that you can make any activity a meditative activity just by setting your intention. If you play tennis, for example, try playing a game with the intent to become one with the ball. Keep all your attention on the ball. You should not be surprised to find your game improves. Also experiment with your meditation practice by involving ordinary daily activities like washing dishes or clothes. Focus all of your awareness on the task at hand without thinking about other things. Remember to simply return your mind gently when it wanders somewhere else. Meditation will ease daily tensions from both your physical and mental being. The more time you devote throughout your day to contemplation, the more results you will see. Before you know it, you will be able to call upon a calm feeling at your will whenever you are faced with a stressful situation. ...,www.newsfix.ca/
Saturday, December 14, 2013, 2:59 AM
Settle into a calm and centered posture. Breathe gently and sense the life of your body, mind, and heart in this moment. Sense your own yearning for peace, safety, and well-being. Feel too the way you defend against sorrow and pain. Invite into your attention someone you care for, sensing the sorrows in their life, and their longing for happiness, peace, and well-being. Notice how your heart can open to embrace those you care for, feeling their sorrow and responding with a natural compassion. Offer to yourself, to the one you love, the articulated intentions of compassion. May I find healing and peace. May you find healing and peace. Let your attention rest gently in these phrases for a time, and then allow the range of your attention and compassion to expand. Sense the countless beings in this world who in this moment have their own measure of anguish, their own longings for peace and healing. Imagine yourself seated in the center of a mandala, surrounded by the innumerable beings who at this moment are hungry, bereft, afraid, or in pain. Imagine yourself breathing in that immeasurable pain, the sorrow and the ignorance that causes sorrow. With each out-breath, sense yourself breathing out unconditional compassion. May all beings find healing. May all beings find peace. May all beings be held in compassion. Allow yourself to sense the countless beings in the world who are ill or dying, who are grieving, who are lonely and estranged. Embrace in your attention those who are imprisoned and those who imprison, those who are caught in the terrors of war and violence and those who war and inflict violence. Without reservation enfold all beings in a heart of compassion. May all beings be free from sorrow. May all beings be free from suffering. May all beings be free. Let your heart fill with the compassion possible for all of us, the compassion that listens deeply to the cries of the world.......www.mindful.org/
Saturday, December 14, 2013, 2:57 AM
1. Go to a peaceful, serene spot that you feel most calm in. It must be quiet and free of clutter. 2. Close your eyes and get into a comfortable seated position. Take six deep breaths with a count of six seconds on the inhale through the nose and four seconds on the exhale out of the mouth. Deep breathing for a total of a minute should help you quiet the mind and calm the body. 3. Focus on who/what you need to forgive. It can be yourself or a loved one. It can be an event, argument, illness, loss, etc. Ask yourself: What is ailing you presently? What are you holding onto? What did that person say to you that you just cant seem to get over/forgive? Send them love and compassion and most of all, forgiveness. They need your love more than anyone. Surrender it and watch it pass in front of you and out into the Universe. Be free. 4. Take a big deep breath. Six count inhale through the nose and 4 count exhale out of mouth. Let it go. 5. After you have completed the Forgiveness Meditation, let your mind take you to all the wonderful things you have right now in your life. Speak softly to yourself and reflect on the abundance you have in your life at this present moment. Make a mental list of all the things and people you are grateful for. 6. Take a big deep breath. Six count inhale through the nose and four count exhale out of mouth. Smile. Forgiveness and Gratitude unlock the door to a happier, healthy life. When you are stuck in resentment, depression and despair, you lose sight of the wonderful things around you and are not willing to listen, to change, to grow, to heal. Keep practicing this simple meditation. Give yourself just five minutes of self-love a day. Once you are free of resentment, you can unlock the power of gratitude. The willingness to listen to yourself and others becomes easier. Now, your best self can shine forward and happiness .....www.elephantjournal.com/
Monday, November 19, 2012, 7:22 AM
STOP FOR A FEW MOMENTS. Sit quietly, with a straight back and gently close your eyes. Feeling the rhythm of the breath as it enters and leaves the body, allow yourself to let go of past and future, and come into the present moment; being with exactly what is - now. Bring your attention to the feeling of the body, accepting it just the way it is - with kindness. Allow yourself to accept all the sensations and feelings of the body completely. Breathe in deeply, with a sense of trust and well-being: breathe out, letting go of tension, allowing any tightness to dissolve. Then, focus on the normal breathing; just the feeling of breathing in, breathing out. Imagine yourself surrounded by light - perhaps a golden-coloured light if you like gold. Being with the sensation of the body breathing in, breathing out, draw the light into the body as you breathe - maybe through the nostrils, the heart or the head. Imagine light saturating the body, through every pore. Think to yourself: 'May this being be well,' and turn the calming effect of the meditation towards this being: 'May this being be calm.' Suffuse your whole body with this calm and kindly attention. Then, let your awareness explore the body: moving around the head and face, gradually down the neck, the back and the chest, spreading right down the finger-tips; then down the legs, to each toe; drawing on the good energy of the breath, expanding and embracing the heart. Focusing more on the out-breath, let go of the memories, the grudges, the grievances; let it all go. Begin again with each breath. Picture yourself in your mind's eye as you are now. Make peace with this view of yourself, through forgiveness, compassion, gentleness. 'May this being be well.' Suffuse this picture with gentle, warm light from the heart, then let it go. Next, picture your parents, let them into your mind. Make peace with their image: 'May you be well,' bathing them with soft light, with gratitude. Observe thoughts arising. Memories of yourself as a child, perhaps something painful or something you have never made peace with. Let it be in the mind, in the light. Then bring up an image of your daily situation, at home or wherever, with the people it involves. People you like or dislike, feel conflict with, love, fear or worry for. 'May these beings be well.' Put aside aversion, fear, worry, guilt; at this moment, allow yourself to be kind. Think of someone you know who is having a difficult time; send these feelings of kindness towards them. Breathe in light, breathe out wishing them well. Gradually open up more and more, from the people you see every day to nobody special; and even those for whom you have hardly a memory. Recognise them as human beings with ambitions, hopes, problems, anxieties, joy - just like you! Give them some life in your perceptions. And, even more remote, acknowledge all the people you can conceive of in this world. This may be a faint feeling, but open up the heart to allow them into consciousness, to be felt. See what the mind does, how it reacts indignantly about some people - such as political figures. Let go of that indignation for this moment. Allow a sense of peace to envelop all beings: the liked, the disliked, familiar and unfamiliar. And then imagine the planet Earth as seen from space. Extend this sense of peace to the planet we live on, embracing it with your heart, surrounding it with light. Turning your attention to that sense of peace and light allow it to expand outwards, without limit, letting the sense of 'me' and 'the world' dissolve in the stillness of the present. Then turn your attention back in towards itself; upon the feeling of knowing 'the screen of the mind', the place where images arise. Let it be quite empty or full, choiceless, being illuminated by the soft light from the heart, light from the breath; warm, gentle; beginning, letting go, patient kindness. Gently come back to the rhythm of the breath, and when you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 3:31 PM
A sun salutation is a series of yoga postures. Its Sanskrit name, surya namaskar, stems from surya, “sun,” and namas, “to bow to” or “to adore.” Yoga practitioners in India have been bowing to the sun for at least a century, and possibly as long as 2,500 years.
Start each movement with a breath.
1. Tadasana (mountain pose): Stand with feet directly beneath the sitting bones, hip-width apart, second toes pointing forward. Lift your toes to direct your weight equally between the pads of the feet and the heels. Keep the arch in your feet as you inhale, rotate the shoulders back, and raise your arms with the breath. Extend through your torso to the top of the head. Don’t arch the lower back.
2. Uttanasana (forward bend): Exhale, bending forward from the hips. Release the head completely.
3. Ardha uttanasana (half forward bend): Inhale and fully extend the spine, rising halfway up from the hips, until muscles engage on either side of the spine.
4. Exhale while jumping back to the plank position. Press your hands against the floor directly beneath the shoulders, with your body straight behind you. Look forward. Continue exhaling as you lower down to your knees, chest, and chin.
5. Inhale as you slide forward to baby cobra: Press your legs together, reach your tailbone slightly toward the heels, lift and extend the chest, and raise the hands one inch above the floor.
6. Adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog): Exhale, press into your forefingers and thumb pads, raise your tailbone, and lift your knees off the floor. Avoid hyperextending the elbows.
7. Inhale, jumping up to uttanasana (forward bend): Use the breath to “float” up. Aim for a silent takeoff and landing. Exhale and release the head completely.
8. Tadasana (mountain pose): Inhale, and rise to standing, hands in namaste.