Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FOLD / get your mudra on

A beautiful yoga teacher and friend of mine Brianna Turpin loves to incorporate yoga mudras into her intelligently designed yoga flows, deeply restorative and nourishing yoga classes, and meditation practice. I am so inspired by the way in which Bri brings this mystical force into her teaching; she is always illuminating new and meaningful ways to engage with our practice that create an element of play, something that I always need reminding to bring into my personal yoga practice.

So what exactly is a mudra? A mudra is a gesture made with out hands that "engages certain areas of the brain and/or soul and exercise a corresponding influence on them". Each mudra should be led by the breath to support the mudra; find a relaxed and effortless position where you feel supported and comfortable; inhabit a meditative seat. You want to engage with these energy fields in a supportive and positive way; harmony creates synergy. Try practicing a single mudra in your yoga practice this week, while finding a moment of stillness or quiet before or after you wake up or go to sleep. Try really feeling into how this one specific gesture helps you to shift energy and bring healing into your week. The pressure of the finger tips should be light and hands should remain relaxed.

All of this beautiful knowledge on mudras comes from the wonderful book, Mudras: Yoga In Your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi. This is an easy to understand text that deconstructs the wisdom of mudras, and with easy photographs and descriptions to help aid in this healing art right from your own home.

So here we go, down the mudra rabbit hole. Let's deconstruct three of my new favorites.

Chin [Jnana] Mudra:

thumb: divine cosmic energy (intuition - inner energy)
index finger: individual consciousness (inspiration - outward energy)

Bring your pointer finger and thumb to touch, extend your other three fingers.

Through this mudra we can connect the individual with the diving creating a symbolic gesture of unity with ourselves and the greater forces gently guiding us

Isn't that beautiful, just by bringing together our thumb and pointer finger together in momentary acknowledgement that we are not alone, we only sometimes think we are alone. It's a gesture of longing to connect with that which is greater than ourselves.

In this mudra, INSPIRATION AND INTUITION JOIN together. Both lie within. 

Shell [Shankh] Mudra:

Encircle your thumb with the four fingers of your right hand, while at the same time, touch the right thumb to the extended middle finder of your left hand. Curve your left hand around the fist you've made with your right hand. It should resemble a conch shell.

I love this mudra because it calls on us to use our voices to help resonate the energy in our hands. It's best practiced after a few rounds of "OM" in your present space. Try taking a deep breath in and letting your voice open in to the sound of OM. Try this several times and then sit with your hands in the mudra. See how this settles in your body.

Through this mudra, we come to connect with our higher self, which helps us to remember that all we need is already present within.

Ganesha [the elephant; remover of obstacles] Mudra:

Hold you left hand (facing palm out) in front of your chest. Bend your fingers and grasp the left hand with the right hand (backside of the hand facing out). As you exhale, pull the hands apart from each other without releasing the grip. As you inhale, release all the tension in your hands, chest and shoulders. Repeat this up to six times. Then spend a few moments with your hands on your heart, sitting in silence. Then repeat the mudra, this time switching the grip of your hands.

This mudra engages our heart and opens our fourth chakra (the heart chakra) which helps us cultivate courage, openness, and generosity to those around us and inward towards ourselves. 

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