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

This weeks asana – focus manipura / svadhistana chakra

reclining tree
reclining twist – knees together, lengthen top leg
sukhasana – mudra sequence from earth and sky (silent mantra – ‘ha vow’) on return
adho mukha to supta vajrasana vinyasana
Standing vinyasa – raise arms to side, palms fwd, shoulders soft (IN)
– lower hands to lower back, hold wrist/ forearms (OUT) *
– raise arms overhead (IN) **
– lower arms to sides (OUT) repeat x3
* fold forward
** lift to flat back, then fold (OUT), raise to stand (IN)
utkatasana – deep with arms at shoulder level (tailbone away from back of pelvis and press towards pubis)
utkatasana
tadasana

repeat other side

savasana
kandarasana
sukhasana – varuna and prana mudras
baddha konasana
pashimottanasana – with ‘swimming arms’

bhujangasana

dolphin
vajrasana
savasana

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.

A fascination with hands

I am drawn to hands. Mostly in the form of touch and gesture but also to the artistic creation or interpretation of hands. Clay, resin, wood, stone, any carving of hands are so very beautiful, so very expressive. Being a yoga teacher, I work with hand gestures , called mudras, which evoke a feeling or attitude within. There is a grace, a softness in the conscious movement of hands and fingers. They convey much without any words spoken. There is a whole language (sign) so the deaf can communicate more easily. A way of communicating without words – how wonderful.

It is said that the meridians of the heart run to the hands, so is it any wonder open palms open our heart. Consider the work of our hands : they hold, grasp, lift, push, pull, mould, paint, carve, write, carry and caress………. One may experience comfort through a gentle embrace or touch. Hands wipe aways tears: both your own and of others. Hands come together in prayer; for thanks and in hope. My prayer for now : thanks and gratitude for all that I have and hope for the many seeds of inspiration to flourish.