When you think of Yoga, I am sure many of you are thinking of a super bendy person wearing form fitting leggings sitting in a position that you might need a doctor after trying to get into. Now, let’s examine the Yogi sitting in their pretzel pose, what are they doing with their hands? They are probably sitting with their hands in prayer position and they are looking absolutely blissed out with a goofy smile on their face. Unfortunately, that is what most people think of when they think of yoga and yes there are Yogis who are quite flexible and they are wonderful people; however, that is only one part of the picture. In reality Yoga is meant for us all, no matter our shape, size, ability, race, creed or who we love. That is what my mission is and why I am so passionate about sharing the practices of yoga with people that are custom fit for them. So where do we start you might ask? Let’s start with Anjali Mudra. Besides Downward Facing Dog, Tree Pose and Headstand I believe it is one of the more recognizable Yoga positions.
To begin with let’s define Anjali Mudra. Anjali means “divine offering”, “gift”, “salute” and Mudra means “seal” “energetic seal”. In many cultures they offer this symbolic hand gesture as a greeting along with word “Namaste”, which is a topic for another blog. With our current Pandemic situation this might become the new handshake, which is not such a bad thing as this mudra brings a lot of light and love to the situation. It also recognizes our oneness and helps us erase division. It is amazing to think about all the beautiful things we can communicate with our hands.
So how do I do this mudra correctly? Well, there are some that believe the hands are pressed firmly together with the thumbs resting on the breastbone. Others, like myself, do this with the pinky side of my hands touching, all the pads of my fingers touching and I leave a tiny space inside the palms. The thumbs are still resting at the heart center. Whatever way feels right for you is the right way because all these practices belong to you.
Are there are any other benefits besides sharing goodwill with others and connecting to the divine? Wow, now that I said that aloud or at least on paper, that sounds like that might be quite enough, but wait there’s more! It helps calm the mind, releases tension in the wrists and hands, stimulates the Heart chakra, balances the two sides of the brain, and may help with your breathing. Wow!
So, I invite you to try the following exercise next time you feel frazzled and your breathing is uneven. Maybe you feel a panic attack coming on or you are just feeling pissed off at the world. Sometimes we want to hold onto those emotions for a while, but just in case you want to quiet them down I invite you to try this:
Set a timer for 10 minutes (Insight Timer is a great App)
- Sit in a comfortable position. That could be in a chair or crossed legged on the floor or lying on your bed.
- Sit up nice and tall, without tension if possible. You can have your back supported by a wall or the back of the chair.
- Close your eyes if that is appropriate for you and then scan your body from head to toe, toe to head. See if there is any part of your body that feels tight or painful. Look for differences from left to right, without judgement. We are just making mental notes.
- Now check in with your breathing. We are checking out the rhythm, temperature, location of the breath, etc.
- Finally, bring your hands up in front of you.
- Before you bring them together rub your hands together vigorously until you feel a little warmth.
- Now, bring your hands into Anjali Mudra with your thumbs resting on your breastbone.
- If thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them, and let them go on their way.
- See if you can sense the energy between your palms.
- Spend a few minutes like this just noticing what comes, not directing this experience in any way.
- After your timer goes off, take a few deep breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth.
- Slowly open your eyes and observe how you feel.
If this practice is difficult to hold you can place a bolster or large pillow on your lap to rest your elbows on.
I do hope you enjoy this practice and if you have any questions or would like to receive further instruction, please contact me.