Anjali mudra or prayer position, is an age-old means of helping human beings to remember the precious gift that life is, and to remind us to use it wisely. It is used in many traditions, cultures and religions around the globe. It helps us to align our mind (awareness), feelings (heart), and actions (body) with one simple gesture. This pose brings the layers of being together – which is the essence of yoga – ‘to yoke’
Anjali mudra, pronounced AHN-jah-lee MOO-dra, translates to mean ‘slutation’ ‘seal’. Anjali mudra is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one’s heart, whether you are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. It represents a meeting of the hearts. As you bring your hands together at your centre, you are literally connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain, your outer and inner worlds. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures.
If you would like to take a simple meditation – bring the hands to the heart and repeat the mantra yam, yam, yam. This will have a calming effect and place you in touch with your true self.
Our Yoga and Meditation classes start back on 4th January and run for 6 weeks up to 12th February. If you would like any information about my classes or wish to book a place – please contact me here
We will begin the year working with Salutations (or Greetings) to the Earth, Sun and Moon… This physical and mental workout will help you to improve your focus on living in the moment, loosen up in the hips and shoulders and strengthen the core and upper arm muscles.
“Salutations are greetings,” said the voice. “When I say ‘salutations’, it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning.” E B White, Charlotte’s Web
In this terms classes, we are saying hello to the new year, hello to a new focus of BE HERE NOW, and hello to some muscles that we may not have used for a while.
Our Pranayama will utilise the deeper core muscles, as we’ll be practising Kapalbhati, a cleansing breath that rids the mind of negativity and the waist of unwanted fat (what’s not to like???)
As usual we’ll end our practice with deep relaxation for 15 minutes of pure bliss – don’t forget to bring 2 blankets this term to make sure you are warm and comfy.
Well done to all who came along this morning despite the blustery wet and windy weather and took part in the ‘What is Pranayama?’ workshop.
We spent time learning about the journey of our breath and understanding that the foundations of pranayama – or pre-pranayama really have to be laid before we can begin the feel that fabulous effects of the practices themselves.
That said all were inspired to learn about the Nadi Shodhana practice (alternate nostril breathing) and there were some very balanced and peaceful faces leaving the room at the end of the morning.
“That was a real treat.” said Hazel
“Thanks for a wonderful morning.” said Robyn
It’s my pleasure, as always, to introduce and remind students, new and old to these ancient and yet so very needed practices in this day and age.
Yoga is best practised on a regular basis. I think of it like cleaning your teeth – imagine if you only cleaned them once per week… how would they look (and smell) by day 6? You can significantly improve your chances of sticking to a routine of daily yoga practice by…
1 Beginning after a break – ie a holiday or weekend away, new month or new year.
2 Making a physical schedule – writing it down as a chart or on your computer
3 Sticking to a ‘special time’ and a ‘special place’ – this helps to get you into a habit/routine
Meditation has been practiced for many thousands of years because people know that it reduces stress, calms the mind and increases inner peace. During the 1970s medical researchers at Harvard University studied meditation in depth and found that during the practice the body has what they callthe relaxation response,which gives the body deep rest that is deeper than the rest we get from sleep. They also discovered that through regular meditation that deep rest builds up in the body over time, and it is that deepening reservoir of rest that the body and mind draw on in times of need such as to fight disease and get us through traumas in life.
Why not give it a go? What do you have to lose? The following audio guides you through a simple visualisation with a focus on Autumnal leaves – something which I think everyone appreciates no matter how busy! With this exercises you can lie down on a flat surface (yoga mat on the floor is best) or seated in a meditation position or in a chair. Whatever you do, don’t listen to it while you are driving or doing anything else. Meditation is something which you have to dedicate your whole mind and body to, close your eyes to shut out interference from the outside world but resist the urge to sleep.
When we greet with Namaste! We are greeting the light within the person or people we see. It is not their physical shape, attitude or energy of the body but the light within. You can think of this as a persons soul or spirit.
Yogis consider a person or being to be made of several layers and, by the practice of yoga (meaning to yoke), we can bring together these layers (Koshas) so that our life and well being is in harmony. To simplify this philosophy, in class I offer the suggestion to think of the Mind and the Body as 2 halves of our being – rather like husband and wife. They are on the same team but quite often have different approaches. As we get used to this as a concept we can then begin to consider and connect with the other aspects of ourselves, such as our energy, our emotions and our true ‘Self’.
Our light or true ‘Self’ can be hidden by these layers rather like 5 lampshades dulling the light of a bulb. We endeavour to ‘dust off’ these shades with our yoga practice so our true ‘Self’ can shine through and we can be at peace with the world around us.
In simple terms we have our food body, energy body, mind body, intuitive body and joy body. All these surround our light or true Self.
If you want to find out more http://www.swamij.com/koshas.htm has a down-to-earth description of these layers of being or Koshas with their Sanskrit names and attributes.
In the wise words of the Buddha…
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
I am now able to offer a brand new service – 1-2-1 Yoga Therapy from my freshly decorated therapy room at home here in North Luffenham. Yoga Therapy is a great way to work with ongoing health problems such as insomnia, specific joint pain, stress, symptoms of the menopause, and much more. With Yoga Therapy together we work out a daily yoga practice to suit your specific situation; you take control of your own health and work towards a happier, healthier you.
At each session we have a short consultation about what it is you would like to address and then work on some asana and pranayama – modifying each practice to suit your special situation. This is then documented so that you can work from the instructions at home. We conclude with a deep relaxation to target your problem area which you can record on a device to enable you to use it at home. After 4 – 6 weeks we can meet again to review your progress and adapt the practices accordingly.
Does this sound like something you would be interested in? The cost of a session is £45; however to introduce the service, during November I’m offering a 50% discount to current students (enrolled in one of my weekly classes), 25% to those who are past students and 10% off to new students. Appointment are available on Monday afternoons and Tuesday mornings please contact me to make a booking.
When we sit either to calm ourselves at the beginning of practice or to rest in between asana, I often suggest a mudra for your hands. The term mudra means gesture or attitude and besides those using the hands there are also whole body, mouth and eye mudras.
Mudras are part of the subtle body of yoga practices, they are lesser known than the physical asana (postures) and are based on the principles of Ayurveda which is a healing practice often considered yoga’s sister. I find it helps to consider the body in the Eastern mindset – thinking about what we call alternative health practices such as acupuncture or reflexology. With these practices the energy pathways are massaged or redirected and mudras work in the same way – holding the fingers in a variety of ways to enliven or redirect the flow of energy around the body. Relating directly to the ‘pranic flow’ and the nervous system, mudras create a subtle connection with the patters in our brains to influence the unconscious reflexes in the desired areas. Our internal energy is in turn balanced and redirected to affect a change in the sensory organs, glands, veins and tendons.
You do need to be ‘tuned’ in to your body which requires a year or two of consistent yoga practice and also the ability to sit still or hold postures so that you can add this extra dimension of subtlety to your yoga practice.
Here are 2 practices involving mudra for you to try. Sit in a comfortable posture and hold the mudra for 5 -15 minutes. Can you notice any changes in your body or mind? Can you tell the difference between these 2 mudra?
Chin Mudra – pictured above is known as the psychic gesture. Here the thumb and index fingers lightly touch with the other 3 fingers stretched straight out. The thumb representing the cosmic energy and the index finger representing the individual. This mudra is said to help ailments of the back. You can accompany this mudra with the affirmation – “Divine knowledge makes my life richer and easier; divine wisdom gladdens my heart and shows me the path.”
Apan Vayu Mudra – pictured below, is said to affect the heart. Here the middle finger and ring finger lightly connect to the thumb, with the index finger folded inwards and the little finger stretched outwards. You can accompany this mudra with the following affirmation – “I have the time and the leisure to see beauty and enjoy the silence”.