Omer Day Eight:
23 Nisan 5780
Friday 17 April 2020

Omer Day Eight: lovingkindess within strength & discipline

Today we begin week two of the Omer, the week of Gevurah, the sefira associated with words like strength, discipline, courage, and power. Our wellness practice likewise shifts from practices grounded in breath & benevolence (chesed) into practices grounded in strength and discipline (gevurah). 

Day 8 transitions us gracefully as we look to chesed within gevurah — lovingkindness within strength & discipline and prepare ourselves for the arrival of Shabbat. Today’s practice brings both grounding and centering while drawing distinct boundaries through movement based on one of our oldest Hebraic symbols, the six-pointed star. We use this symbol to guide us through six-point balancing and dynamic squat progressions for grounding and strengthbuilding.

Tonight is also Mimouna (Hebrew: מימונה, Arabic: ميمونة), a traditional North African Jewish dinner celebrating the end of Passover and return of chametz (bread and other leavened goods) into our daily lives.  How fitting that as we ease the restrictions of Passover, our tradition empathetically suggests that we turn our focus to discipline and strength-building even as we celebrate our freedom.

☀️Omer Day 8 practice [23 Nisan 5780 | Friday 17 April 2020] ☀️

  1. Position yourself in a grounded standing position. Imagine you are standing in the center of a six-pointed star (e.g. Star of David). Take three deep breaths, and think of an intention you have relating to strength and discipline you’d like to bring into today’s practice. (1 minute)
  2. Round 1: Keeping most of your weight in your left foot, pick up your right foot, and tap the first corner of the star with your right big toe, then return right foot to center. Do again moving counterclockwise, to the second point of the star. Repeat with all six points, then repeat the full circle with your left foot going counterclockwise, then repeat once more each side (2x per side total) (1-2 minutes)
  3. Round 2: Same basic steps as round 1, but this time place your entire foot at each point of the star, shift your weight entirely to that foot (or as much as possible). If you can, briefly pick up the foot still in the center. Shift your weight back to the center foot, bring the other foot back to center, then move on to the next point in the star. Move through all six points clockwise with the right foot, then switch feet and move through all six points counterclockwise with the left foot. Repeat on each side if you have time (2 minutes)
  4. Round 3: Starting with the same weight shift as round 2, at each point of the star keep the feet positioned as they are (one foot in center, the other on the point) and squat / lunge as low as you can go, working to maintain balance. Stand, shift weight back to center, return foot to center, then move to next position. Move through all six points clockwise with the right foot, squatting in each position, then switch feet and move through all six points counterclockwise with the left foot. (2-3 minutes)
  5. Return your focus to the center of this space you’ve defined through movement — six points around with your presence in the middle as the sacred seventh point — and your initial intention. Take three deep breaths to end your practice.

🌀Materials 🌀

  • Flat open space
  • Imagination
  • Comfortable, non-restrictive clothing

✨Practice Notes ✨

  • Barefeet recommended for optimal ground feel and balance;
  • Keep your chest and head facing forward the entire time — do not pivot your feet. This means for points 5 and 6 one leg will be going behind the other one. Bend the knees and position as needed but try to keep facing forward even in these awkward positions.
  • For round 3, during the squat / lunge try to keep your legs and feet positioned in the same orientation as how they started for that point of the star — ie don’t pivot or turn but keep facing forward the entire time. This will purposefully put you in many different positions, which is important for building strength in lots of positions.
  • Move through the progressions to the best of your ability. For round 3, squat as low as you can. If squatting at all is difficult but you can shift your weight, focus on that for round three as well. Same thing if round two shifting your weight is too difficult — focus on balance and shifting your weight and position so that you can tap each point on the star for three rounds.
  • Take your time, focus on breath, keep your eyes forward especially as you shift weight and/or squat.
  • If you have extra time and want a bit more of a workout, repeat round three 2-3 more times, resting 1-2 minutes between rounds.
  • You can also scale up the difficulty for round 3 by doing single-leg squats (pick up the center foot but keep it in the same position, just off the ground, then squat down and up); or more moderately by keeping the center foot on the ground on your way down but pick it up as you stand back up out of the bottom of the squat.
  • See diagrams below and keep an eye on our instagram story for some visual demonstrations.

Today’s practice tools are adapted from methods developed by Ido Portal and learned through workshops with Zack Finer (ApeCo Movement School) and Kyle Fincham (Movement Brooklyn).

☀️This post is part of our Omer Wellness Series – a daily 7-minute opportunity for introspection and intentional focus on caring for ourselves, each other, and our environment in this incredibly challenging time. ☀️#omer #wellness #jewish #countingtheomer #jewishmovement #movementculture #movementecology #selfcare #dailypractice #hebrewcalendar #kabbalah #jewishwellness #dailyomerpractice #omerinplace #omer5780 #squatprogressions #singlelegsquat #discipline #boundaries #selflove

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