Jnana Mudra – Gesture of Higher Knowledge for Awakening Clear Seeing

This is a mildly stimulating mudra for awakening the clear seeing through the power of witnessing and enhancing one-pointed concentration as well as giving you the ability to discern between the limitless true Self and the limited personality.

Touch the fingertips of your index fingers to your thumbs on each hand, creating a round, open circle.  The pinky, ring and middle fingers all extend straight out.  Rest the backs of the hands on the lap or thighs and relax your shoulders as you hold the mudra.

  1. Notice how the breath is directed into the upper chest, neck and head.  
  2. Feel the fuller breath coming into the upper part of your lungs, creating an uplifting feeling. 
  3. Supported in this uplifting feeling, the attention is directed into the frontal brain, your area of higher reasoning. 
  4. Sense the space between the brows, as your center of clarity allowing you to witness all that arises in your mind. 
  5. Take several breaths to sense the silent space between your thoughts creating even more stillness in the mind and letting go of the need to identify.  Your true Self arises in this stillness and space.  
  6. Stay as long as your are comfortable. 
  7. Maybe adding an affirmation which you can say silently or out loud.  Through awakening clear seeing, I experience the silence of my authentic being.
  8. When ready, release this gesture and rest in complete silence.
  9. When you are ready to go about your day, open your eyes slowly and gently.

(source: Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Jospeh and Lilian LePage)

The Breath
Straw Breath
Benefits: increase range of motion of diaphragm, aid in continuous and smooth movement of the breath, support complete exhalation and removal of toxins in the body, calming practice.
Props: narrow opening straw or just pursing your lips.

Begin in a comfortable position, either seated, lying down or even standing supported.  Inhale through the nose in a natural relaxed way, exhale evenly and naturally hrough the straw or pursed lips. The head position is neutral with the straw facing forward not down. A variation is to take the straw out for the very last bits of air releasing and exhale through the nose but it takes some practice to do this evenly.  Try 4-5 rounds at the beginning, returning to your natural breath between rounds.  

The Poses
Reclind Bound Angle

(Supta Baddhakonasana)

Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems. 

Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow

Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. We used the wall in this week’s class placing the bolster at a higher elevation. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees)  Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment.  Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10  minutes.

Scissored Leg

Props: 1-2 blankets
Benefits: gently stretch the IT band along side legs, stretches the glute muscles of lower leg, facilitates breath into top side of body.

Place one blanket on the mat to cushion the lower hip and one folded blanket for head rest (keeping spine aligned).  Lower down to your side, extending the top leg down the mat with the foot on the floor and the lower leg out to the side with foot to the floor.  Arms can rest on top of each other while the head rest on the blanket.  May add another blanket or pillow between arms. Stay for up to 5 minutes on each side, maybe rolling onto your back to bring legs to the body between sides.

Mountain Brook Pose
Props: bolster, 2-3 blankets, block, neck roll, eye pillow
Benefits: counteracts the slumped position of our posture from sitting, computer use, driving, everyday activities. Opens the chest to help breathe easier. Improves digestion, reduces fatigue and can lift your mood.

Just like a babbling brook with boulders (soft ones!), imagine your body like the soft rushing waters laying over those boulders, smooth, flowing.  It will allow the natural curves of the body to be held up gently and the breath to flow.
On your mat, place the bolster will your knees will be, one blanket rolled up where the bra line is (base of scapula), a block for the feet or the heels can come to the floor and a neck roll for the cervical spine.  Shoulders rest on the floor, arms to side with palms facing up.  If ankles need support, use rolled-up blanket or dish towel.  Eye pillows can lightly rest on eyes or even be used on forehead (useful for headaches) or even on shoulders (wherever you need to release tension). To begin with stay in pose for 10 minutes working up to 20 minutes.  Great to use in savasana. Feel the heart open, the strain from holding yourself up all day evaporate.
Variations: Feeling cranky in the lumbar spine? Place blanket to fill the curves.  Want to feel more grounded while still opening the heart? Place rolled up blanket against wall and soles of feet touching blanket.  Need to feel cuddled? Swaddle your head in a blanket cradle.