Posts Tagged ‘anjali mudra’

First things first: this morning I remembered to chant. Just om, three times. I started with the palms together in anjali mudra, took a deep inhalation and while exhaling the om, I separated and lifted the hands into prana mudra. With the inhalation the hands come back together at the heart. I repeated this gesture while chanting om three times.

Shiva Rea calls this prana mudra. Funny, when I did a search online for any information about prana mudra, all the images showed a hand position that’s quite different — the thumb touches the pinky and ring ringers, while the pointer and middle finger extend straight. But I like Shiva’s version. 

Prana is the life force that animates the physical body. It’s energy that’s around us and in us. Adding prana mudra to your practice revvs up the energy. With the arms extended in prana mudra, my body felt like a tuning fork as the last of the om reverberated. It reminded me of an exercise I learned in a prana yoga workshop with Jeff Migdow. I used to do this in class. Sitting in any comfortable pose, resting the hands on the knees with the palms facing upward, imagine breathing in from the tips of the fingers, up through the arms, all the way to the heart. On the exhalation, breathe from the heart to the fingertips. After a few breaths this way, in and out, notice any sensation at the fingertips and the palms, and around them. 


experiencing the sensation of prana

experiencing the sensation of prana


Once you feel it, lift the hands up and notice the energy around the front and backs of the hands; you can imagine them floating in a sea of prana. Then you can turn the hands toward each other, move them closer until you can feel something, a warmth, tingling, or a puffy sensation between the hands. Migdow told us there’s a chakra in the  palms, which is where healing energy comes from. You can take the palms and move them in the space around your body, placing them over any area where you might need healing — your heart, your eyes, your knee, your lower back. 

This prana cultivation experience is a great way to start your practice, or to intensify it. You can imagine prana flowing unimpeded through your body while in poses. In prana yoga, you chant bija (seed) mantras associated with the different chakras to open things up — say, at your throat, or at your heart, or at your root. When I took classes from Shiva Rea last month, I noticed that she is doing a lot of chanting in poses as well. She calls her type of yoga “prana vinyasa flow.” Cultivating awareness of prana is a shortcut to experiencing the connection that is the essence of yoga — the union of the body, mind and spirit. And once you’ve tapped into it, you can bring yourself back there anytime, through the breath.

Sometimes I’d guide students to return to that awareness of prana in savasana, asking them to imagine the entire body pulsing with energy, each of the 72,000 nadis, or channels of energy (or psychic channels, as Dharma Mittra calls them) open. Even imagining that their bodies were full of light, burning away any impurities, dissolving any blockages. Getting back in touch with the light and perfection at their core. I ended feeling recharged and happy to have kept my resolution for the fifth day. Om nama shivaya.

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make an offering


Starting out the new year, I’m setting the intention of nurturing and sharing my yoga practice. It’s a bit different here in Utah, where the ground is covered with snow, compared to the photo above, taken in Puerto Rico, but the feeling is the same. Standing or sitting with the palms pressed together in anjali mudra is a common way start to a practice. Anjali means offering, and a mudra is a sign or seal. Bringing the palms together in anjali mudra invokes a feeling of reverence. It focuses the awareness at the heart. And it’s a great opportunity to check in with yourself and set an intention for your practice. You can make an offering of energy toward a goal or an ideal, something you want to manifest in your life or in the world. You might make an offering to a person who needs some positive or healing energy, to someone you love, or even to a person you are having trouble with. Whenever you return to this position — either as you’re repeating the sun saluations, or in a transition from one pose to another– each time your palms touch, you can remind yourself of that intention and make your offering again. In the beginning of the practice, when you set your intention, it may not seem attainable, but as you continue to remind yourself of it, it may begin to feel more real. Sort of like reprogramming your brain, infusing it with what you’d like to see more of, and eventually patterns of thought that are destructive or no longer serve you can be replaced by your intention.

My intention in sharing these daily doses of yoga is to bring yoga back into myself, to really live it again. To honor my body as a temple, and recognize it as an entryway into the deeper chambers of my being.

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