During the past weeks of class, we have been practicing the Pushpanjali Mudra during our opening time of breathing and centering. Pushpanjali means an offering of flowers. I picked this mudra because it is known for reducing stress and the lowering of blood pressure and aides in "releasing attachments at all levels of being" * while cultivating generosity. Pushpanjali is for "cultivating non-grasping - Aparigraha."*
The Yamas are the first of 8 Limbs of Yoga. See my blog from September 2013 for more on the Limbs of Yoga: http://www.yogawithgrace.net/pams-blog/8-limbs-of-yoga . The Yamas are a list of ways we interact with others. Aparigraha (a-par-I-gra-ha) is the fifth Yama and is translated to mean non-grasping, non-coveting or non-possessing. The idea is to look at our lives and see where we hold onto stuff or yearn for stuff others have. "Stuff" is either physical things or more spiritual, internal stuff. As we look around at the things we posses we ask the question, do I really need it? What does it really do for me? Then we look inside to find what we might be holding onto, memories, hurts, titles, and more. These things we hold onto block us from really moving onto compassion and generosity. Practicing Aparigraha actually brings us to the point of interacting better with others. For example, if we covet something a friend has or does it blocks us from truly getting close to her. Practicing aparigraha, we would celebrate that she has a great job, blonde hair, or can crochet. When we aparigraha with our physical stuff, we find ourselves more able to let go off it and share it with others who do not have. When we practice aparigraha we celebrate that we can do the Tree Pose even when it looks a little different then the person next to us.
The article "7 Ways to Practice Aparigraha" by Irene Petryszak is a great and easy read on how to practice Aparigraha. Irene lists and explains the following steps: Let It Go, Breathe, Practice Self-Care, Be Positive, Forgive, Practice, and Be Generous. The post "Aparigraha" on www.earthdancehealingarts.com is also focused on the practical aspects of Aparigraha. Jen explores how we can apply Aparigraha to many aspects of our lives including our yoga practice and our personal view of ourselves. Jen also lists some important questions to ask ourselves as we continue to practice Aparigraha. Give the article and the blog a read and let me know if you found them helpful. If you click on the green highlighted titles, the article and the blog with come up on a separate screen. Feel free to respond to this blog about your practice of Aparigraha.
*from Mudras For Healing and Transformation by Josepha and Lilian Le Page
Article on Pushpanjali: http://namasteworksyoga.com/pushpanjali-mudra-appreciate-life-just-as-it-is
Mudra for Arthritis
James wrote recently asking for a mudra for arthritis.
In previous blog entries I have mentioned the book Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph and Lilian Le Page. This book lists "Matsya Mudra" - Gesture of the Fish as the primary mudra for arthritis and health of our joints. (page 66). Matsya Mudra is especially helpful for:
- Nourishing the joints - Releasing Muscular contraction
- Get into a seated position:
On a chair with feet on the floor, shoulders relaxed back and crown of your head toward the ceiling.
On the floor, in an easy seated position or similar pose with shoulders relaxed back and crown of your head toward
- Hold hands out in front of you, palm down, fingers together.
- Place your right hand on top of your left.
- Extend your thumbs out to the side like "fins."
- Rest your hands against your lower abdomen or on your lap.
- Relax you arms. Allow your shoulders to relax back and down.
- Close your eyes or look lazily toward the floor and focus on your breath.
- Options: Try one of your favorite pranayama (breathing techniques)
Slowly repeat this phrase: "Bathed in waves of nourishing energy, my body moves freely and comfortably."
(Mudras page 66)
Other mudras listed by the Le Pages that might also help with arthritis:
- Mira Mudra - page 82 - "health of sacrum, pelvis and joints" and "reduces stress and relieves anxiety"
- Vyana Vayu Mudra - page 96 - "For Health of the Nervous System"
- Dvimkahm Mudra - page 176 - "For Facilitating Deep Relaxation"
- Svadhisthana Mudra - page 142
Matsya Mudra - Gesture of the Fish
Last week in our yoga practice we learned the Fish Mudra. I picked this mudra because it is for osteoarthritis and the health of our joints. It also "cultivates relaxation and serenity." (Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph and Lilian Le Page)
Sit yourself comfortably, relaxing shoulders and allowing your arms to relax at your sides. Bring the fingers of both of your hands together with thumbs extended. Stack the right hand on top of the left with thumbs extended. Hold your hands in front of your abdomen or relax them onto your lap. Relax and breath. Try repeating, "Bathed in waves of nourishing energy, my body moves freely and comfortable" as you hold the Matsya Mudra. (Mudras page 22)
Mudra for Headaches
Recently I was asked by a student to talk about yoga and migraines. So I have done some research. This blog entry is about the Mahashirsha Mudra "Gesture of the Great Head" that is for headache and tension relief (according to Mudras for Healing and Transformation.) This mudra helps relieve tension around the face, jaw an eyes which may provide relief from tension headaches. It may also ease symptoms from TMJ dysfunction. This mudra is also know for "instilling a sense of release" and helps us "let go of worry and anxiety". This release and letting go may also help headaches especially those that come from an anxious, tight mind and body.
How to: Tuck your ring fingers into your palms. Bring the tip of your thumb to the tips of the index and middle fingers. Extend your little fingers out as much as possible. Rest your hands in your lap with palms facing upward. Relax your shoulders back and down with your crown towards the ceiling. Concentrate on your breathing, especially on your exhale. Mudras for Healing and Transformation suggests the following verse to say while holding this mudra: "My exhaling breath allows me to release stress and tension from my entire body."
Please let me know how this works for you!
I enjoy yoga as it brings peace to my life. Teaching yoga has brought joy to my life and given me a chance to encourage others in learning yoga.