Posts Tagged ‘mudras’

Lotus Love Blog

Mudra Medicine by Tina Spogli

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 No Comments

As I’m about to embark on my second Reiki training {energy healing through the hands}, I’m feeling especially in tune with the healing power that comes from intentional movement of the hands. Movement is medicine for creating change, and just as we move our bodies in our physical asana practice to unlock healing energy, we can too through our hands. Our hands are extensions of our hearts, with the power to create, transform, & heal. The energy centers of the entire body are located in the hands, so by connecting, bending, and touching the fingers in a certain way, we can begin to bring our bodies & minds back into balance. Each finger represents an element found in nature: Thumb/Fire, Index Finger/Air, Middle Finger/Ether, Ring Finger/Earth, & Pinky Finger/Water. Like the rest of our yoga practice, mudras are great medicine for union within ourselves, and with the Universe.

Below are three of my favorite Mudras. You’ll find instructions on how to move into the mudra, benefits, & other findings from my personal exploration with them.

ATMANJALI MUDRA / Gesture of Prayer

Press your palms together in front of your heart, letting your thumbs touch your sternum. Atmanjali Mudra {Prayer} is commonly used in yoga classes as a greeting, along with “Namaste.” This is a way of showing respect to others, as in “I see you,” meaning I see that divine light & love in you. With the palms resting on the heart, we can think of turning this gesture inward for a dose of self-respect and love. This mudra promotes balance between the right & left brain hemispheres, and calms our thoughts. The way the palms meet, it is a gesture of duality merging into wholeness, a yoking of light & dark, sun & moon, masculine & feminine. This yoking is also true of our experiences, being able to integrate past experiences, good and bad, with the present so that all experience can be food for who we are becoming.

BHUMISPARSHA MUDRA / Earth Witness Mudra

Sit in sukhasana {easy cross-ankle pose}, and bring your left fingertips to the Earth outside your left thigh. Bring your right palm face up on your right knee, and connect your thumb with the ring finger for Earth energy. Whenever life feels a bit up in the air, or I’m caught up in my thoughts, this mudra is able to ground & center my energy. As the left fingertips plug into the ground, it’s a beautiful reminder of our own deep connection to the Earth, and all its creatures. With every exhale, you can imagine roots growing down into the Earth through your left fingertips & sit bones, and with every inhale the spine growing taller. You can keep this breathing visualization going, so that with each exhale your roots grow a little bit deeper into the ground. Eventually your roots will find a large crystal at the center of the Earth, they securely wrap themselves around it. Feel yourself connected to the Source of all things, at the same time knowing that all creatures are connected to this same Source.

GARUDA MUDRA / The Mystical Bird

Link your thumbs and allow your other fingers to fan out wide, right palm in front of left. You can place this mudra at your navel, heart, or anywhere in between. The thumbs represent that element of Fire, which gives this mudra a feeling of strength and fierceness. The way the other fingers spread wide gives the feeling of freedom – I like to even play with some free flowing movement here of a birds wings. The element of the bird is Air, and this mudra works to open the chest for deeper breathing. It also improves circulation and mood. As the bird is able to glide in the air and be carried by the wind, we can begin to let the body & mind be carried by the wings of the breath.     

Tina developed a deep love for quieting the body and mind during her time living in one of the loudest cities. Yoga found Tina in 2007 while she was living in New York, and the practice quickly became her sanctuary amidst all of the hustle.

She believes in the transformative process of yoga, with its ability to bring us back into our bodies and breath, and stretch our mental limitations of what we think is possible – both on and off the mat. Her mantra is to come as you are, and observe what unfolds. Tina’s classes are thoughtful and intentional, sharing inspiration from her personal practice and life.

Tina is a 250 RYT, and a graduate from Laughing Lotus in New York and San Francisco. When she is not on the mat, you can find her in nature, exploring photography, and hanging with her animal friends! She is very grateful to be a part of the Laughing Lotus community of the east and west, and is thankful for this space to share her heart and energy with you.


Setting Intentions with the Kubera Mudra by Adriana Feliciana

Posted on: August 2nd, 2017 No Comments

Mudras are a conscious way of holding the arms and hands in order to express meaning. We often use a mudra at the beginning of our Practice to effectively engage and influence our body and mind. Wayne Dyer says, “Live every day with intention,” and I have found that defining my intentions before setting off on any project is an excellent way for me to stay focused.

The Kubera Mudra helps support you in setting your intentions and manifesting your desires. You can begin with either hand. The thumb, middle and index finger are joined together with the other fingers curled in towards the palm. The thumb represents fire, the index represents air and the middle represents space…all joining together to form a powerful force that helps you focus on fulfilling your desires and aspirations.

 The effect of a mudra can be greatly enhanced with intentional breathing. Pay close attention to maintaining even breaths while lengthening the pause after inhaling and after exhaling by several seconds. Hold your arms about one inch away from your body. Create as much length as you can in the spine and roll the shoulders back to bring a sense of inner balance and to help regulate the nervous system so you can remain focused.
Exhale vigorously several times before you begin to make room for what you want to achieve. The Kubera Mudra can be practiced throughout the day as many times as desired. I like to use this mudra every morning at the end of my mediation time to set my intentions for the day. When I set my intention each morning, I am then able to invoke this mantra throughout the day and remind myself to stay focused on what is really important…being present and alert to life’s lessons that are dispersed everywhere.

Adriana loves yoga because the practice allows her to truly inhabit her body and find a comfortable and livable space deep within. Inspired by Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Adriana blends compassion for all beings with a challenging mindful asana practice that supports where her students are while encouraging them to explore their edge. Come to class with her, and your prana will be stoked through conscious breathing techniques while cultivating inner perceptual awareness and increasing concentration.


Keeping the Faith

Posted on: August 31st, 2016 No Comments

by Tina Spogli

Vajrapradama

This month marks my one-year anniversary living in San Francisco. As a result, I’ve been self reflecting a ton, thinking about all of the changes I’ve seen in my life over the past year – namely a move across the country coupled with a complete change in my livelihood. We all have these markers in our lives that encourage us to look at our unique path from a bird’s eye view, and hopefully feel content with where we are in this moment.

When we reflect on our life, we’re able to see our experience as a continuous wave. We see the moments when strength prevailed, and we also see the moments when we questioned our path and lost our faith. But the important part is that we stayed on the path. Vajrapradama (Unshakable Trust) mudra has been my reminder to believe in myself, and my own unique journey. Just like the poses in our asana practice, these mudras, or shapes we create with our hands, produce a particular feeling within us. The mudra communicates with us through the universal language of emotion. Mudras are like medicine, and Unshakable Trust mudra can be taken daily like a vitamin, receiving a regular dose of self-confidence and strength.

To form Unshakable Trust mudra, interlace the hands at your heart center, and let your thumbs point up towards the sky. The way the hands are linked gives the feeling of warrior strength and connection with ourselves, each other, and the cosmic self. The cosmic self shines through as our intuition – that voice inside each of us guiding our way. Sometimes we build walls in our hearts and minds that make it difficult to follow the path. As we tear down these walls, we get closer to our truth. This past year has brought many changes, and where I’ve resisted change in the past, I’m now seeing the beauty of how our lives can unfold when we let them.

Trust is a practice. We keep coming back to ourselves, to our faith, and to our light – remembering the immense power within. Trust means letting go, and waking up to our true selves. Paolo Coelho in his book ‘Warrior of the Light’ says:

The moment that he begins to walk along it, the Warrior of the Light recognizes the Path. Each stone, each bend cries welcome to him. He identifies with the mountains and the streams, he sees something of his own soul in the plants and the animals and the birds of the field. Then accepting the help of the Soul of the World, he allows his personal legend to guide him toward the tasks that life has reserved for him. On some nights, he has nowhere to sleep, on others he suffers from insomnia. “That’s just how it is,” thinks the Warrior. “I was the one who chose to walk this path.” In these words lies all his power: he chose the path along which he is walking and so has no complaints.

 

Tina developed a deep love for quieting the body and mind during her time living in one of the loudest cities. Yoga found Tina in 2007 while she was living in New York, and the practice quickly became her sanctuary amidst all of the hustle.

She believes in the transformative process of yoga, with its ability to bring us back into our bodies and breath, and stretch our mental limitations of what we think is possible – both on and off the mat. Her mantra is to come as you are, and observe what unfolds. Tina’s classes are thoughtful and intentional, sharing inspiration from her personal practice and life.

Tina is a 250 RYT, and a graduate from Laughing Lotus in New York and San Francisco. When she is not on the mat, you can find her in nature, exploring
photography, and hanging with her animal friends! She is very grateful to be a
part of the Laughing Lotus community of the east and west, and is thankful for
this space to share her heart and energy with you.


Three Great Mudras for Your Workday

Posted on: August 24th, 2016 No Comments

by Josh Ehrenreich

josh mudra

A nice thing about mudras is they’re inconspicuous, they stay out of the way. You can be in an office meeting, a bus commute, waiting in line—and no one will even know you’re doing yoga with your hands! It’s not exactly the same as busting out a Warrior 1 in airport security.

Personally, I like integrating mudras throughout my day at the office. They encourage me to take an extra breath before jumping into reaction mode. I’ve found the following three mudras are especially well suited to modern life.

Apan Vaya Mudra—We’re distracted by hundreds of different interruptions, digital and physical, throughout our day. The Apan Vayu Mudra encourages one to sink into the bliss of a leisurely pause and find the beauty in stillness. In this incredibly fast moving, instant-information world, this mudra is my go to.

Bend your index finger to touch the base of your thumb and bring the tip of your thumb to touch the middle and ring finger. Rest your hands on your lap. For added affect turn your phone to vibrate and put your computer to sleep. Enjoy a few minutes of nurturing silence.

Kubera Mudra—Oh man, if you have a job that requires planning and goal setting, let me introduce you to your new secret weapon. This mudra creates momentum behind wishes, desires, and goals of all levels Trying to find that random email in your inbox from three weeks ago? Boom, Kubera has your back. Looking to position yourself for a promotion? Kubera is here to help.

Bring the tip of you thumb, index, and middle finger together with intensity. Important to this mudra is the mental attention you give to what you are trying to manifest—to recall a fact, less preparation is required, but for something more signifiant, say a promotion or successful execution of a project, take time to inquire whether this is truly in your, and the world’s, best interest.

Hakini Mudra—Research has shown that super-villains are on to something with all their finger tenting. The Hakini Mudra is recommended in many management courses as a technique to support memory recall and mental concentration. It also promotes balance between the right and left halves of the brain.

I use this in meetings a lot—it’s a wonderful way to focus on the meeting at hand rather than find excuses to distract myself. It also stimulates the lungs, which supports taking an extra breath, instead of jumping in and interrupting someone. Try it for yourself by bringing the corresponding fingertips and thumbs together. You can let it sit in your lap or on the table.

Mudras are incredibly powerful tools at our disposal. Their power is not just in their specific affects but also due to their ability to be executed at anytime. You don’t need to get to a studio or gym to do a mudra, just a hand and a couple of minutes. Try one today in a place you wouldn’t normally bust out into Lotus flow, and enjoy the benefits of a yoga wherever you are.

Josh believes in the importance of moving yoga beyond the studio and into everyday life. His even-tempo flow based classes focus on consistency of effort, breath, and attention. Beyond yoga, Josh spends his free time biking and listening to hip-hop. Catch up with him at the Lotus this August and September Monday and Wednesdays
8:30-9:30pm.


Seals of the Soul

Posted on: August 17th, 2016 No Comments

*Repost*

by Valerie Starr

valerie

When I was growing up, I remember my mom taking sign language classes and coming home to show us kids the different signs. “Thank you”, “Please”, “What’s wrong with you” (my favorite) and “I love you” (still used to this day whenever I say goodbye to my mom). This was my first introduction to understanding that our hands can speak, our gestures have meanings, and our body language can say something

In asana practice we use different poses to do the same thing, connect and personify movements, gestures, and intentions with our body. Whether traditional poses brought to us by yogi’s past, or newer poses from the west, when we move our body with this kind of awareness we are creating language with our limbs.

Mudras are sign language (seals) of the soul. They are gestures to take our intentions further with the use of our hands. I have even heard them expressed as icing on the asana cake, something to bring us more fully into the present moment. We can use our hands, which can often times be limp or unexpressive or forgotten about in practice, to drive the pose deeper and bring more awareness. To seal the deal, so to speak.

One mudra that always seems to be speaking to me is the Ksepana Muda, the gesture of pouring out and letting go. As human beings we are constantly changing, shape shifting, and transforming who we are. The idea behind the Ksepana mudra is that we let go of the layers that no longer fit us: the identity, the preconceived ideas of ourselves, and the stuff that just doesn’t have any room in our lives anymore.

I often refer to the body as a storage unit. We accumulate past traumas, dramas, memories, habits, addictions, toxins, movements, and thoughts. It takes a constant clearing out process to help eliminate whatever negative energy we are storing and free that space up for what’s good. The entire practice of yoga is geared toward this action and to free of these things that bind us.

The Ksepana Mudra functions curiously like a hose. The fingers are clasped together, while the index fingers point out towards the ground, and the thumbs cross over each other. You can envision a stream of sludge or sewage pouring out of the index fingers unclogging the muck that has been stored for years, decades, or lifetimes. This mudra is to be held for 7–15 breaths with the concentration on the exhale.

It is no wonder that this mudra also stimulates elimination through the skin (sweat), lungs, and large intestines, releasing stored tensions as well for a physical and emotional clearing. It is all part of the letting go process.

With a baby on the way less then five weeks out, I find this mudra quite appropriate for my life. I am in a constant state of clearing and uncluttering my apartment, my body and mind. There has got to be an emptying out of my life to ensure space for this little one when he arrives. I don’t want my baggage to be stored in his closet so to speak.

An interesting occurrence I have recently been witnessing is my absorption of other people’s energy. This month I attended a large, 3-day music and arts festival here in San Francisco, surrounded by many people in a different situation than I was and found myself needing to have as much space as possible. Not only did I feel crowded but also like a sponge absorbing other’s energy that wasn’t always pure or aware. The Ksepana Mudra can help with draining the unconscious energy we pick up from others that we don’t want to hold onto.

Gertrud Hirschi, author of the book MUDRAS – Yoga in Your Hands, offers an affirmation to go along with the Ksepana mudra. “Spent energy in my body, mind and soul flows away from me, and I thankfully accept all things that refresh me.”

As you hold the mudra and think these positive thoughts you can envision the sludge becoming expulsed with each exhale; becoming more clear, all the while, knowing that this process of pouring out and letting go is a constant and gradual practice.


Meditation: compassion towards Self

Posted on: May 4th, 2016 No Comments
by Yurina Kim

Yurina

What do you do when someone tells you your opinion is wrong? That your feelings and emotions aren’t warranted. That you should change the way you think. A common reaction would be resentment toward the that person and sadly in some ways, thoughts of dissatisfaction toward yourself.

For so many years I would hear the word “meditate” and draw back from it because of people telling me I should try it to help me with my mental and emotional issues. That it would change my life. Now, this doesn’t sound so bad right? The reason why I cringed at the idea was because I already had thoughts of dissatisfaction toward myself and was defensive at the thought of someone telling me ways to “fix” myself. The last thing I wanted to do at the time was listen to my own thoughts in absolute quiet! I needed distractions, I needed solutions, I needed to actively seek ways to help my situation change with more immediate results.

After many years of seeking my path of happiness to no avail, I finally caved and tried meditating. I took baby steps. First, it was by going to yoga classes and sitting quietly for a few minutes at the beginning and end of each practice. I remember one day we started the class with Dharmachakra Mudra with our eyes closed. I saw vivid colors circling through my fingers and the energy around me soft and with purpose, like I was meant to sit in that room in that exact moment. I felt like I was grounded but floating at the same time. My internal and external was in harmony. My energy was balanced. At that moment I thought, well if this is what meditation feels like, this is great! Well, that moment was exactly that – a moment that came and went.

Meditating is the hardest thing I ever had to discipline myself to do. Meditation takes incredible COURAGE. Honesty. Focus. Compassion toward Self. This seemingly innocent practice challenged me to unearth the layers of imperfections and insecurities I was constantly pushing further and deeper inside to hide that part of me from the world. I had to start listening to my own voice inside. The child-like innocence, the bruised heart that came from years of beating myself up over not being better than I was. Warm compassion would flood through me for that imperfect person I was trying to escape. I started loving that person because my unique journey, just like the unique journey that all of you have, made me the person I am today and in this moment I accept me for me. Those so-called imperfections create depth to who I am and meditation helped me learn to embrace all parts of myself. I can finally learn how to let go of the expectations I put on myself. I can let go of what I now realize as aggression toward myself. That person who was telling me I was wrong and needed to change? Ultimately, that ended up being me, the very person who I was resentful toward in the beginning.

Rather than “fixing” yourself by trying to make yourself a supposedly better person, meditation helps you become friends with yourself. To accept the imperfections which create YOU. Meditation allows acceptance versus change. Letting go versus force. Change is a byproduct. Meditate so you can navigate your current self through the constant flux that is the universe we live in.

Just like there’s no right or wrong way to think or feel, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. We all have our own poisons and our own path we need to find and follow, which is why it’s important to practice meditation regularly to figure out what YOUR path is. With that said, guidance is wonderful.

Here are a few basic things I learned in my own routine to prepare myself for meditation:
● Morning distractions? Push those aside! How many of you check your phone right after you wake up, before your feet even touch the ground? Keep that phone outside of the bedroom.
I wake up, take a deep breath of air, say thank you to whoever I feel grateful toward that morning, feed my dog, oil-pull with sesame oil, brush my teeth, drink warm lemon water, eat breakfast, read a few pages of something yoga-related in the morning to exercise my mind, walk my dog, then I open my laptop and start my work day.
Trust me when I say, my first instinct in the mornings is still to check my phone and sometimes I slip. And on those days that I slip, I do feel off in the morning but will close my eyes briefly, take a deep breathe, and let it go.
● Mantra with mala. I switch between my rosary my mother gave me when I was younger, and a mala bead necklace. They both speak to me so I use both of them! I recite a morning mantra that I need during the day. Sometimes it’s a simple “So Ham”, which translates to “I am that, that I am”.
● I love mudras. Usually I use Gyan mudra on my left hand with my beads in my right hand. I also love Dhyani Mudra because of the bowl your hand creates which represents receptivity in the purest form to whatever path lies before you in that moment. Knowing the meaning of a mudra and using the physical act during meditation helps to create more space in the mind for clearer, non-cluttered focus.

All you need is the basic energy of life that already flows in you to experience moments of enlightenment. Enlightenment itself can be a loaded, intimidating word because some people strive for this fantasy-like place that you stay in forever once you reach it. This defeats the goal of release, of letting go. So it can be a simple “a-ha” moment or a feeling of complete and utter satisfaction. That passing moment of seeing colors coursing through my hands that I mentioned earlier? That energy was always there since the day I was born through all the ups and downs, is still inside of me now, and will still be there as I survive through what life throws at me next. These little moments of enlightenment come and go but they help you remember that the energy that creates those moments channels through you with every breath you take. Sometimes I find myself in these periods of total surrender to the universe when I’m not in a seated meditative position because the meditative tools I’ve cultivated stay with me. One example is when I’m scuba diving, particularly muck-diving. From the outside, you would find me staring at one square meter distance in the sand for a good hour. But from my eyes, I see the symbiotic relationship of a gobi fish and shrimp, the spots of a hiding stingray, the head of an eel poking out from a nearby rock, a baby octopus changing colors. Ignoring the big school of fish everyone is trying to photograph because I’m focused on the teeny tiny frog fish barely perceptible to the eye, slowly making its way across the sand. All this color and beauty made me become one with the vast ocean surrounding every part of me, and I felt total freedom. These are the moments we live for and to feel. Freedom that comes from being honest in your truth, in the space you occupy, in your present moment with who you are, just as you are.

When it comes to finding this joy, we all have the lotus flower inside that’s always ready to bloom, to show its existence while pushing through the mud. This mud full of of insecurities, worries, fears, doubt. This beauty, wonder, and mystery that is life, is present in every ordinary thing we do. Every breath, every step, every time we blink our eyes and realize we’ve been staring right past the very thing right under our nose that makes us smile, in an attempt get a better view of whatever it is that everyone else is looking at.

From the outside, someone sees you staring at nothingness, not really doing much of anything. But inside, there is so much more than what meets the naked eye. Meditation allows you dive deep, look within, and find freedom to love who you are and where you are right now.

Yurina Kim is our Marketing and Community Relations extraordinaire.


Seals of the Soul

Posted on: August 26th, 2015 No Comments

by Valerie Starr

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When I was growing up, I remember my mom taking sign language classes and coming home to show us kids the different signs. “Thank you”, “Please”, “What’s wrong with you” (my favorite) and “I love you” (still used to this day whenever I say goodbye to my mom). This was my first introduction to understanding that our hands can speak, our gestures have meanings, and our body language can say something

In asana practice we use different poses to do the same thing, connect and personify movements, gestures, and intentions with our body. Whether traditional poses brought to us by yogi’s past, or newer poses from the west, when we move our body with this kind of awareness we are creating language with our limbs.

Mudras are sign language (seals) of the soul. They are gestures to take our intentions further with the use of our hands. I have even heard them expressed as icing on the asana cake, something to bring us more fully into the present moment. We can use our hands, which can often times be limp or unexpressive or forgotten about in practice, to drive the pose deeper and bring more awareness. To seal the deal, so to speak.

One mudra that always seems to be speaking to me is the Ksepana Muda, the gesture of pouring out and letting go. As human beings we are constantly changing, shape shifting, and transforming who we are. The idea behind the Ksepana mudra is that we let go of the layers that no longer fit us: the identity, the preconceived ideas of ourselves, and the stuff that just doesn’t have any room in our lives anymore.

I often refer to the body as a storage unit. We accumulate past traumas, dramas, memories, habits, addictions, toxins, movements, and thoughts. It takes a constant clearing out process to help eliminate whatever negative energy we are storing and free that space up for what’s good. The entire practice of yoga is geared toward this action and to free of these things that bind us.

The Ksepana Mudra functions curiously like a hose. The fingers are clasped together, while the index fingers point out towards the ground, and the thumbs cross over each other. You can envision a stream of sludge or sewage pouring out of the index fingers unclogging the muck that has been stored for years, decades, or lifetimes. This mudra is to be held for 7–15 breaths with the concentration on the exhale.

It is no wonder that this mudra also stimulates elimination through the skin (sweat), lungs, and large intestines, releasing stored tensions as well for a physical and emotional clearing. It is all part of the letting go process.

With a baby on the way less then five weeks out, I find this mudra quite appropriate for my life. I am in a constant state of clearing and uncluttering my apartment, my body and mind. There has got to be an emptying out of my life to ensure space for this little one when he arrives. I don’t want my baggage to be stored in his closet so to speak.

An interesting occurrence I have recently been witnessing is my absorption of other people’s energy. This month I attended a large, 3-day music and arts festival here in San Francisco, surrounded by many people in a different situation than I was and found myself needing to have as much space as possible. Not only did I feel crowded but also like a sponge absorbing other’s energy that wasn’t always pure or aware. The Ksepana Mudra can help with draining the unconscious energy we pick up from others that we don’t want to hold onto.

Gertrud Hirschi, author of the book MUDRAS – Yoga in Your Hands, offers an affirmation to go along with the Ksepana mudra. “Spent energy in my body, mind and soul flows away from me, and I thankfully accept all things that refresh me.”

As you hold the mudra and think these positive thoughts you can envision the sludge becoming expulsed with each exhale; becoming more clear, all the while, knowing that this process of pouring out and letting go is a constant and gradual practice.


THE DIVINE DANCE OF THE HANDS

Posted on: August 19th, 2015 No Comments

by Robin Wilner

Robin_yoga(209of218)

Our hands are like the looking glass into our souls. We reflect our feelings, our moods, and our inner struggles through gestures without even realizing it. Do you clench your fists when you’re frustrated? Do things tend to slip through your fingers when you’re feeling anxious or depressed? Have you ever waved in a friendly greeting, given someone a cheerful thumbs up, clapped in excitement, or angrily raised your middle finger? Have you felt the impact of taking a new love’s hand for the first time? These are all subtle expressions that require no words, and yet they each have a complex simplicity that speaks volumes.

As a kid, when I had trouble finding the right words to express myself, I used my body through dance instead. Every limb had its own dialect to relate to the world, and even as I matured and my vocabulary grew, I still preferred the power of gesture as my form of communication. Whenever I tell a story even now, I use my hands and body to channel my thoughts. Until I found yoga, I had the hardest time keeping still. And then something shifted. I realized that my hands, creating their own special dance as conduits of my heart, were these incredible receptors of energy and healing. The stillness in meditation brought me such calm and clarity, and I was able to tap into my deepest Truth through the yogic hand expressions, or mudras.

In the ancient practice of yoga, a mudra (or “seal” in Sanskrit) is the mystic sign language that translates the deep intentions of our hearts. Whether we’re creating shapes while in a meditative seat or whole body mudras during our asana practice, we have the means to transform our energetic state. Some gestures may act as physical or emotional healers, while others may help to heal us spiritually or connect to our divine inner nature.

“Each mudra ultimately creates a special connection to cosmic consciousness, [and the] primary goal of yoga is oneness of humanity with cosmic consciousness,” says Gertrud Hirschi, author of Yoga in Your Hands. Whether we are in search of our own personal connection to the Source, are working to heal a relationship or let go of past emotions, want to enhance our breath, calm our minds, or need help making everyday choices with better clarity, there are numerous mudras from which to choose your expression. These are just a few of my personal favorites to help you along your journey:

1(1) Prithivi Mudra (stability): connect the thumb and ring finger together with the other fingers extended, resting both hands this way on your thighs. By stimulating the root chakra and connecting to the energy of the Earth, this mudra helps to create a powerful feeling of stability, security, and confidence.

2(2) Anjali Mudra (gratitude): place both hands together in front of your heart with the palms facing inward. As you sit with your breath, express gratitude for the abundance of blessings in your life. This will create harmony, balance, and peace of mind.

3(3) Garuda Mudra (inner freedom): clasp your thumbs with your right hand on top of your left and your palms facing your abdomen. This gesture activates circulation, refreshes the organs of the pelvis and chest, and creates a sense of fearlessness. Let this mudra take flight like an eagle above your head after several breaths and enjoy the inner freedom!

4(4) Hakini Mudra (concentration): place all ten fingertips together, leaving a sphere of empty space between both hands. This mudra stimulates brain activity and improves concentration. Place it centered onto the third eye, which is the seat of our intuition, thoughts and perceptions, to help clear the mind and improve memory.

5(5) Varada Mudra (forgiveness): point the left fingers downward with the palm facing forward, and rest the right hand in your lap or on your thigh. One of the popular gestures depicted by Buddhist and Hindu deities, this is a gesture of forgiveness and mercy. Practice being forgiving towards yourself for any past or present wrongdoings, as well as being merciful towards others who may have wronged you.

6(6) Lotus Mudra (purity): place both hands in front of your heart, keeping only the heels of your hands, pinkies and thumbs together. The rest of your fingers extend wide open, blossoming like the bud of a lotus flower emerging from the mud. This gesture of purity opens the heart to the goodness in all beings and to our true Divine nature.

Give yourself time to sit and explore these mudras fully. Discover the energetic feeling that comes up, whether it is uncomfortable or uplifting. And remember that your hands have the ability to express your Truth louder than words.

Robin is a passionate dancer and yogi who loves to explore the power of expression through creative movement. Catch a class with her at Laughing Lotus on Mondays/Fridays @12pm, Tuesdays/Thursday @9am, or Saturdays @6:15pm.


Padma Mudra

Posted on: August 12th, 2015 No Comments

by Nikki Borodi

Nikki

It is a beautiful dance, when we move, connecting the languages of our minds, bodies and spirits. We have transformative gifts that allow us to use our bodies to calm our minds, our trust in spirit to calm our bodies and our minds to thread the pieces together that invite us to utilize different expressions at the ends of our fingertips.

A mudra is a tool that can invite our spiritual, mental and physical bodies to work towards the same goal. In Sanskrit the meaning of ‘mudra’ is a seal or closure. By creating specific hand positions we consciously connect a physical gesture to focus transitioning the energy flow of the body, which invite us to shift spiritual and physical aspect of ourselves. This seal is a pact we make between the divine and ourselves to call in change.

I love the using of tangible symbolism, whether it is the pieces on an altar or a gesture of the hands to intentionally call in evolution. Just like there are different ingredients for various recipes there are many mudras to call in specific energy shifts.

One of my favorites is the Padma or Lotus Mudra. This beautiful coming together of the hands in a way that forms a lotus flower invites in purity and an opening of the heart. To explore Padma mudra place the base of the palms together allowing the pinkies and thumbs to touch while the rest of the fingers blossom widely open. Inhaling the lotus flower from your heart up past your crown chakra call in the invitation to allow your heart to open to receive whatever comes your way, on an exhale draw your hands in prayer down to your heart closing the lotus pedals off to any fear of your spirit. Repeat this cycle for as few or as many times as you wish with a full intention focused on this expansion.

You can also visualize your lotus flower freeing itself from mud and muck as it grows towards the sunlight. The lotus flower that shifts from darkness to light is a magnificent mirror to the human condition of how we all grow through murky waters to ultimately transform, shine and grow. We must honor the dark, pain, and struggle along with the joy, success and blessings within us that offer the lessons that most inspire our evolutions.

So anytime you are looking to add some mindfulness to your day and have even a few minutes to spare take seat, join your hands and enjoy the benefits of incorporating mudra into your meditation and pranayama practice. The shifts can happen anywhere and anytime when you invite yourself to be open to them. So whether you are on a yoga mat or waiting for the bus enjoy exploring the gestures that activate you the most.


Mudras: Magic at Our Fingertips

Posted on: August 5th, 2015 No Comments

by Andrew Keeler

Andrew

Have you ever had the experience of being outside the Lotus temple and just needing yoga, yet the setting isn’t conducive to busting out into Trikonasana, or walking Down Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) out? It can be frustrating, right? Knowing that relief is just a pose away and it’s outside of your comfort zone, or more probably outside of others comfort zones. For instance, I had a friend who worked a high anxiety position with security. I showed him Childs Pose (Balasana) to ease anxiety and let him tap into his parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest side of the nerves. His experience was one of instant relief and his question was “Why aren’t people doing this more often?” Well, for many reasons, most of them nonsensical in my humble opinion BUT there’s good news!

Using simple hand gestures, known as Mudras (“seal” or “mark” in Sanskrit), we can tap into a vast world of healing. By use of our fingers we are able to effect our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. The shapes we create can help stabilize our weight, clear energy blockages at each chakra, and call on the powers of deities as in Ganesha Mudra. You may have experienced our Mudra mascot, the Lotus Mudra, once or twice in class. The Lotus Mudra is said to be the “symbol for purity,” says Gertrud Hirschi, author of “Mudras, Yoga in your Hands.” The Lotus roots itself in the muck, the mud, our more difficult and darker sides… and grows towards the light. Flowering so that it can share the love that it has gained through hardship, and adversity, offering beauty for all to experience. Other aspects, maybe more tangible, include doing “this mudra when you feel drained, exploited, misunderstood, or lonely.” Hirschi says to “open yourself to the divine force and receive whatever you need – and much more.”

She goes on to explain how our hands are mirrors for diverse dynamic systems, small and large. As yoginis and yogis we begin to recognize the interconnectedness of all things. Whether it’s how the energy of a class begins to build on itself through breath and motion, creating a largely transformative experience together which can never be the same practicing alone; or feeling how blockages in our physical bodies may be indications of energetic stagnation in our other mental, emotional or spiritual bodies. The hands house connections to the systems of Ayurveda, our chakras, meridians through acupressure, reflexology, planetary classification (thumb representing Mars, index as Jupiter and so on) and palmistry.

Mudras are used all over the place… to bring them into todays textual world, think of the hand symbols emulated as emojis. During ceremonies those performing pujas will used mudras to work with the essence of the deity that the puja is held for. Each of our fingers has a stigma itself, the thumbs up! The “ring” finger, peace fingers and of course sometimes the center-most finger.

Mudras are extremely helpful in situations where physical asana may be difficult or inaccessible. During a 5 week pancakarma cleanse in India they were my lifeline. The medicine and practices involved in this Ayurvedic cleanse were deep, thorough, and had strict rules to increase their effective nature. I wasn’t supposed to do much physically, some folks are actually bed-ridden from the effects. Regardless, I tried and found that practice… even Yin and Tai Chi… were crushingly intense for me. I started to meditate more often and visit the library. I found Gertruds book and started to use the mudras to help connect with some of the same effects I craved from practicing asana.

They can also be combined with most any practice:
Meditation
Kirtan
Japa
Yoga Nidra
Pranayama
Asana
sitting in Bay Bridge traffic… to name a few… oh..
and yes… at the DMV.

Andrew, aka Prancing Pine, leads the Lotus community into the Dark Side of yoga. The “Yin-timate” spaces, if you will. Otherwise he’s spreading the love and light of Reiki healing and exploring inner spaces or trying to get into the woods.