THE BASIC LYING-DOWN POSTURE Begin by lying on your back on the floor or ground—a comfortable surface (firm, but not too hard)—with your knees up, your feet flat on the floor, and a yoga strap tied just above the knees. The strap should be tied tight enough so the knees are just touching or almost touching. We’re creating a triangle between the knees, the feet, and the floor, so that you can relax your thighs, lower back, and pelvic area. Your feet should be comfortably spread apart so that you feel stable and can fully relax. You may also want something supporting your head, such as a folded towel, a sweater, or a small pillow, to raise it slightly. Cross your hands at or over your lower belly with the left hand under the right hand, little fingers down toward the pubic bone, thumbs up toward the navel. This gathers your energy and awareness toward the core of the body. Feel the earth under you and let your body sink down as if into the earth. The more you can allow yourself to feel supported by the earth, the more fully you will be able to relax. Check the comfort of your position. You want to be really relaxed, so your body’s not being strained in any particular way. You should be holding yourself so you can completely relax the muscles in the lower back and the inner thighs and so there’s no effort of holding at all. You’re really relaxed: the triangle of your knees, two feet, and the floor should be very restful for you. Then, put your awareness in your body, and just let yourself continue to relax. Soon after you begin doing these practices, you’ll notice that any time you lie down in this way, in the same position with the intention to do body work, the body responds very quickly. This is the one time in our life when our body actually becomes the focus of attention. We’re not using the body for something else. We’re simply making a relationship with it as it is. It’s the only occasion when we ever do this, including in our sleep. The body begins to respond, to relax, to develop a sense of well-being, even in just taking this position. So just take a few minutes, and let your body completely relax. As you’re just lying there, you’ll notice that your body begins to let go. A muscle here, a muscle there, a tendon here, a joint there: it begins to release the tension in various places. It’s a very living situation. You might think, “Why am I here? There’s not much happening.” That’s not true at all. As long as you’re attentive and you put your awareness into your body, there’s a very dynamic, very lively process of relaxation that the body goes through. But you have to be present. You have to be in your body. You have to be intentionally and deliberately feeling your body for this to work.
Reginald A. Ray (Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body)