Changing how we think, feel and experience

serenityIn class this week I am exploring the Apan (energy) mudra. This is a wonderful practice to help remove waste products and toxins from the body and to stimulate the energy of the liver and gallbladder. When our liver is functioning well, this in turn has a balancing effect on the mind.

When we work with the fingers and hands in yoga (hasta mudras or hand gestures), we are influencing the flow of prana (energy) in our body and minds; changing how we think, feel and experience on all levels.

With practice, qualities such as patience, serenity, confidence, inner balance and harmony may be experienced. As Apan mudra has a balancing effect on the mind, our ability to visualise, face new challenges and look to the future is enhanced.

THE PRACTICE

apan mudra

Find a comfortable lying or seated position.

With each hand, place the tips of the thumbs, middle and ring fingers together, extending the other fingers gently.

Close your eyes and feel where the fingers touch, while visualising the gesture in your mind’s eye.

Rest your awareness here softly, feeling and observing  – no expectations, or judgement, simply being with your experience as it is, from moment to moment.

You may like to simply sit with Apan mudra for anywhere from 5 – 45 minutes or include the following visualisation.

In your imagination, sit in a beautiful garden. Enjoy the colours and shapes of the plants around you – a garden that is blossoming and full of life. You appreciate the wonder of nature – how a seed germinates, how a plant grows and blooms. In an empty garden bed, plant something that you want to bear fruit, to come into being now or sometime in the near future; a conversation, a relationship, a project etc. Imagine how it sprouts, continues to develop, blossoms and bears rich fruit. See too, who will benefit from these fruits. Finish your visualisation with a sense of gratitude.

You may also like to affirm several times –

I plant my seeds, care for them and receive a rich harvest – that I thankfully accept. 

Rest quietly for a few moments and when ready open your eyes, welcome the light and world back in.

Ref: Gertrud Hirschi, Mudras: Yoga in your hands (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC York Beach ME, 2000), p73

Words matter

 

 

We express ourselves to others and the world around us through communication: who we are, what we believe in, our attachments and aversions. Much of this communication is through gesture, posture and facial expressions, while spoken communication gives voice to our thoughts and feelings. Each “word” is a creative union of thought and energy. Ideas become thoughts, concepts, language and your plans take on the energy to manifest in the world as the actual results of your intent and skill.

Do you honour your own beliefs and speak out when you should? 

Do you talk over others, or not listen well?  

Do you feel shy and afraid to extend your energy into communication?

Talking consumes a huge amount of energy, so choose your words carefully. At times it is appropriate to be quiet, to listen.

When you next speak, T H I N K :

T – Is this Truthful?
H – Is this Helpful?
I – Is this Inspiring?
N – Is this Necessary?
K – Is this Kind?

In yoga, the throat centre, vishuddhi chakra, represents our ability to communicate verbally. A well balanced Throat Chakra will allow you to communicate and express yourself more freely. You will realize that you can trust your inner voice and speak your truths.

Here is a simple hasta mudra (hand gesture) for balancing the energy at the throat. Bring the pads of the thumbs and middle fingers of both hands gentle together forming Akash mudra. As you sit comfortably, spend a few moments to follow the natural rise and fall of the breathe; to feel the body breathing itself easily and naturally. When ready, repeat silently the following affirmations:

akash mudra

 

 

I express my unique qualities each day

I transmit a unique frequency, my voice is heard

My communication is open, clear and harmonious

 

Spend a little time sitting with each and feel when it’s time to move to the next. You may like to simply work with one affirmation, see what resonates with you in the moment. Recording yourself saying the affirmations can be helpful and very powerful; make sure you leave enough time to centre at the beginning and in between each affirmation for the words can “land”.

Namaste

Yoga for your hands – Hasta Mudras

In class this week, we explored hasta mudras or hand gestures. Mudras are yoga positions for your hands and fingers that can be practised sitting, lying down, standing or walking. Mudras can be practised anywhere and at any time, however for best results, one should be free from distraction and able to withdraw into stillness and silence. Gertrud Hirschi in her wonderful book MUDRAS- YOGA in your HANDS says: “These silent moments can be the most precious to us; and like the salt in the dough that gives the bread its good taste, silence adds the right spice to our lives”.

Yogis believe energy/prana is lost through the fingertips, so when we bring the fingers together we create essentially, a short circuit that redirects energy back into our body.

Vajrapradama mudra – a gesture of unshakable confidence

The positioning of our hands/fingers influences different aspects of the brain and so we are changing the relationship between our body and mind.

Mudras influence our mood; they change our attitude towards ourselves and the world around us.

I have really grown to love Vajrapradama Mudra – the gesture of unshakable confidence. This gesture is wonderful to explore when experiencing self doubt, mistrust in others and hopelessness in the face of obstacles.

“We can effectively engage and influence our body and our mind by bending, crossing, extending or touching the fingers with other fingers. Isn’t this wonderful?”  (Gertrude Hirschi. MUDRAS :Yoga in your Hands)

Below is a link to a vinyasa from my class this week. Enjoy!

Vajrapradama mudra – Gesture of Unshakable confidence

Building our strength reserves through gesture (Mudra)

The kidneys are connected to the second chakra, which is located in the lower abdomen and the element of water.

Physiologically, hatha yoga works on the hips, lumbar, and sacral regions to stimulate this energy. Specific asanas can also aid in maintaining and stimulating the healthy flow of fluids in the body, which improves kidney function and revitalizes energy in the second chakra. Such fluids include the synovial fluids of the joints and the fluids of the lymphatic system as well as a healthy level of blood and urine production.

Asanas that simply put pressure on the kidneys also help to flush and cleanse these organs.

The meridian line, or energy line, that stimulates the kidneys runs from the bottom of the fifth toe and through the inner knee, thigh, and sacral region. Twists, back bends, forward folds, and inner thigh stretches will stimulate the second chakra and release blockages.

Bhudi Mudra

More than half our body weight consists of fluid,the Bhudi mudra helps to restore or maintain equilibrium in the fluid balance. This mudra is good for dry eyes or mouth and disorders of the bladder and kidney areas.

Place the tips of thumbs and little fingers together, extending the others in relaxed way. 

Imagine a small, clear mountain stream flowing gently. Dip your feet or hands into it and let it caress you. Cup the water in the hollow of your hands; drink the precious cool liquid;let it refresh you. While you do this repeat three times:

Affirmation

Water purifies, refreshes and strengthens my body, mind and soul.

Make sure you continue to drink plenty of good quality water in the colder months.

Keep warm,

Namaste

Hasta mudras – Varuna and Prana

Varuna Mudra:

Join: Tips of the thumb and little finger
Benefits: Balances the water content in the body and improves the blood circulation. The top ends of the thumb and the little finger are to be touched while keeping the other three fingers straight. Follow Varuna mudra with Prana mudra for added benefits.

Prana Mudra: Join: Tip of the thumb with ring and little fingers and keep other fingers erect.
Benefits: This mudra vitalises and invigorates the whole body. Improves the eye sight. Improves the healing power in the body. Good for people with leg pain, legs going to sleep and leg muscle pull.

Prana Mudra: This is recommended for overall good health. As the name suggests, this mudra helps optimal flow of the prana (vital energy) in the body. Practicing this mudra energizes and activates every cell of the body and thus helps in regulating the biochemical and physiological processes and induces youthfulness and alacrity.

This mudra enhances vitality and immune system of the body. It invigorates the defense mechanism of the body and thus increases its capacity to fight against dreaded diseases. Its regular practice is found quite effective in recovery against thyroid problems and several kinds of cancer. More the patient practices it, the greater would be the benefits.