When one thinks of hand gestures, visions of peace may not come up. But our guest blogger, Carmen, offers insight on a hand mudra which may get you thinking quite differently next time someone gestures to you with their hands or fingers. We hope that you enjoyed the month-long series and get to continue your journey.  This blog is always open to you to refresh your practice.

The Breath
Sun Salutation Flow with Interlaced Fingers – relieves anxiety
Standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), inhale lift arms up, interlace fingers pressing palms skyward. Exhale and lower in front of you, keeping hands interlaced. Do at least 6 rounds.

The Poses
Supported Wide Angle Forward Fold

Props: bolster, two blocks, 4 or more blankets
Benefits: releases the pelvis which can help release tension in the buttocks, hips, belly and lower back.  Quiets the organs of digestion and elimination. Opens lower back area. As head rests on bolster, releases tension in frontalis where we hold stress in contracted state. Cooling and calming to overall body and provides a nice transition from day. Can help with sleep.

Depending upon the length of your torso, you may or may not need the blocks under the bolster.  A double-folded blanket folded over one more time adds height and comfort.  Place as many of these as you need on top of the bolster. Cushions and pillows are also good.  You will straddle the props bringing them in as close to your body as possible to support you as you forward fold.  Rub hands together to warm up the hands and gently cup them over the eyes and rest on the elbows on the bolster. Avoid too much pressure on the eyes.  To lesson any strain in the lower back, sit on a single or double-fold blanket.  Can add blanket rolls under the knees. Stay for 5 to 10 minutes. 
*note that for some students the breath can be constrained. Practice belly breaths to begin with.

Legs up on the Chair (Viparita Karani)

Props: chair, 2-3 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Benefits: relaxes the muscles of the lower back, legs, refreshes the legs, relaxes the muscles and organs of the abdomen.  

Extras: Sandbag 

Place a blanket on chair so you don’t feel the hard surface.  If you need to elevate the body, you can place a triple fold blanket in front of chair, then place your hips on blanket to one side, swing the legs up onto the seat of the chair as you lower your upper body onto the mat or floor.  Use a neck roll to support cervical spine. Place a blanket or sandbag on legs to ground you in the pose. Arms release to the sides with palms turned up.  Use an eye pillow to shut out any light for ultimate relaxation. An eye pillow or some type of weighted object (I’ve used stuffed animals) can be placed in open palms to move and free up energy.  Stay for up to 10 minutes.  Your beginning practice may consist of only 5 minutes.  Feel the legs drain, the stress melt away.

Supported Forward Fold  (Soles of the Feet together – Baddakonasana)

Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract, digestive and reproductive organs. Relaxes the back and releases tension in the neck.
Props: bolster, 3 blankets or blocks (firm cushions and pillows are always an option) and one extra blanket for warmth.

Place a double-fold blanket on floor, sit on edge of blanket and bring soles of your feet together in Baddhakonasana). Option to cross legs. Bolster goes between legs and add blankets to top of bolster as necessary as you lean over the bolster.  Your neck should not drop down but be about level with the upper spine.  Allow arms to drape down. Feel free to add support under arms and wherever else needed.  Head is turned to a side.  Stay for 5-10 minutes, alternating head with an inhale.  

Anjali Mudra

by Carmen

Anjali Mudra is a yoga hand gesture used in yoga for meditation and for greetings.  It can be used anytime you feel you need to be centered.  It can be done while you sit, walk, stand, or lying down.

This gesture assists in creating a sense of harmony, serenity, composure, balance, repose, and peace.  In India, it is a greeting or a way of expressing gratitude.  It expresses respect, acknowledgement, and reverence.  It can be used as a way of requesting from the Divine, when you have a wish or desire that you would like to come to fruition.  

Benefits:  Reduces stress, anxiety, clarity and calming of the mind.  Calming thoughts are considered a base for power that builds up physical strength and stabilizes the mind.

Position:  Place both hands together in front of your heart center (sternum).  Thumbs are pointing towards the heart chakra (heart center).  The other fingers are gently touching each other.  Your dominant hand should not be pressing too hard on the non-dominant hand.  Find a balance.  You should leave a little hollow space between the two palms.

Note:  This gesture helps activate and harmonize the coordination of the left and right brain hemispheres.

Affirmation:  Full of thankfulness, I receive the good that waits for me. 
(from: Mudras by: Gertrud Hirschi).