Archive for January, 2012

The Knowledge Seal (Jnana Mudra, Guyan Mudra, Gyan Mudra, OM Mudra)

January 31, 2012

The Knowledge Seal (Jnana Mudra, Guyan Mudra, Gyan Mudra, OM Mudra),thumb tip and index finger tip touching

Mudra is Sanskrit for seal.  A mudra is a position, usually done with the hands, that directs the flow of prana (life energy).  As part of our Mudra Series, we will be working on the Jnana Mudra, this is a classic energy sealing Mudra used in Meditations.

Jnana comes from the Sanskrit word “Gyan” or “Guyan” meaning knowledge knowledge. The Jnana Mudra is the Mudra of Knowledge.

How to:

Bring your thumb tip together with your index finger tip.
(The Thumb Represents Ego; The Index Finger = Jupiter)
Press the thumb and index finger together gently.  Your remaining 3 fingers stay straight.

 Make the Jnana Mudra Active, bring your thumb to the nail of the index finger.

Uses and Benefits:

Helps relieve Stress & Depression
Sharpens memory and concentration
Helps with insomnia
Can help achieve mental peace
Helps release anger
Helps relieve Migraines

Jnana Mudra is used in various pranayama techniques as well as meditation, but try it in some other asanas:

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Vrkasana (Tree Pose)
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)

Try using Jnana Mudra during centering at the beginning of your Yoga Practice & during Meditation & Pranayama.

Read More about MUDRAS here

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Welcome to the Year of the Dragon! Celebrate with Dragon Pose!

January 23, 2012

“Gung Hay Fat Choy!” (Happy New Year in Cantonese)

The Dragon is the 5th sign in the Chinese Zodiac, following the Rabbit.

If you were born in 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 or 2000 your sign is the dragon.  Find your Chinese Zodiac Sign HERE.

Celebrate the New Year with Dragon Pose (Yin Yoga Variation of Runner’s Lunge)

Dragon Pose is great for the hips, groin, quads and can help with sciatica.

How to:

Baby Dragon (Modified Lunge)

Begin in Down Dog
Step your Right Foot forward, between your hands
Bring your Right knee directly over your right ankle.
Drop your Left Knee to the floor
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring both hands to the Big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot: Baby Dragon Flying Low
Opt. 3:  Bring the top of your head to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot

Baby Dragon Flying High (Balancing Modified Lunge)

Begin in Baby Dragon
Bring your Hands to your Right knee
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Twisted Baby Dragon (Twisted Modified Lunge)

Begin in Baby Dragon
Bring your Left hand to the Big toe side of your right foot
Raise your Right Arm
Open your Right Arm out to the Right Side (twist to the side of the front leg)
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

Opt. 1:  Bend your Left Knee and hold your Left Foot with your Right Hand

Baby Winged Dragon (Modified Lunge with Hip Opener)

Begin in Baby Dragon
Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot
Allow your right knee to roll out to the right side
Come onto the little toe side of the Right Foot

Variation:

Opt. Bring your hands to Blocks

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot, then use your right hand and apply a gentle pressure to your right knee, pushing out.

As always, BACK OFF IF THERE IS ANY PAIN!

Dragon Pose (Lunge)

Begin in Down Dog
Step your Right Foot forward, between your hands
Bring your Right knee directly over your right ankle.
Up on your Left toes, Left knee remains off the floor
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring both hands to the Big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot-Dragon Flying Low
Opt. 3:  Bring the top of your head to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot

Dragon Flying Low (Balancing Lunge)

Begin in Dragon Pose
Bring your Hands to your Right knee
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

Opt. 1:  Bring your hands together in Prayer Position at Heart’s Center
Opt. 2:  Bring your arms over your head, interlace your fingers, index fingers pointing up
Opt. 3:  Begin in Opt. 2 and add a mini back bend

Twisted Dragon Pose (Twisted Lunge)

Begin in  Dragon
Bring your Left hand to the Big toe side of your right foot
Raise your Right Arm
Open your Right Arm out to the Right Side (twist to the side of the front leg)
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:
Opt. 1:  Bend your Left Knee and hold your Left Foot with your Right Hand

Winged Dragon  (Lunge with Hip Opener)

Begin in Dragon Pose
Bring both hands to the inside of the right foot
Allow your right knee to roll out to the right side
Come onto the little toe side of the Right Foot
Hold
Repeat on the Left

Variation:

If you want to go deeper….

Opt. 1:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot
Opt. 2:  Bring your Forearms to the floor on the big toe side of your front foot, then use your right hand and apply a gentle pressure to your right knee, pushing out.  As always, BACK OFF IF THERE IS ANY PAIN!

Dragon Split
Begin in Baby Dragon
Slowly slid your Right foot forward, straightening out the Right Knee

Variation:
Opt:  Place a block under your right thigh

If you want to go deeper….
Opt: Slowly fold forward out over your Right Leg

Learn More Animal Poses Here

More Calendar Theme Yoga Poses

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Bear Pose to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day (The Birthday of Winnie’s author A.A. Milne)

January 18, 2012

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” -Winnie the Pooh

I love the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (and his friends).  I have read the A.A. Milne books and the Benjamin Hoff  books, “The Tao of Pooh” an the “The Te of Piglet.”

“The hardest part is what to leave behind, … It’s time to let go!”

So much of what A.A. Milne’s characters have to say is great advice and perfect for the Yoga Mat.
“Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.” –Winnie the Pooh

To celebrate A.A. Milne’s Birthday ( born the 18th of January 1882), and his beloved characters, let’s practice…

Bear Pose:

Lay on your back

Raise both arms and both legs into the air

Rotate your wrists and ankles

“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.”

More Calendar Theme Yoga Poses

See more POSE FOCUS posts HERE.

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A Prayerful Yoga Practice & the Anjali Mudra

January 4, 2012

Today we will be working on the Anjali Mudra.
Brings hands together in prayer position at heart center.  Your hands should be lined up evenly.  Press hands together slightly.

Come to a comfortable seated position with hands in Anjali Mudra for a few minutes of Centering.

Spend a few minutes for warm up asanas

Comet to Tadasana with hands in Anjali at heart center (near the back of the mat)

Begin Flow:

Tree Right leg up hands in Anjali Mudra

Step right leg forward in Warrior I hands in Anjali Mudra

Step Left foot forward, Chair Pose

Transition to Twisted Chair Right side

Return to Chair

Forward fold

Lunge (left leg back) hands in Anjali Mudra

Prayerful Triangle

Exhale Revolved Side Angle (hands in Anjali Mudra) – hold

Transition to Lunge

Step back into plank, lower

Child’s Pose

Garland Pose (heel down squat, hands in Anjali Mudra)

Forward Fold

Roll up to Mountain

Repeat on the opposite side

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Salutation Seal (Anjali Mudra or Hrdayanjali Mudra),hands in Prayer position (Namaste)

January 1, 2012

Mudra is Sanskrit for seal.  A mudra is a position, usually done with the hands, that directs the flow of prana (life energy).

As part of our Mudra Series, we are beginning with the Salutation Seal since most of us are very familiar with bringing hands together in prayer position.  This gesture first appeared in clay seals about 6,000 years ago.

The Salutation Seal is known by many names, Anjali Mudra, Hrdayanjali Mudra, Atmanjali Mudra, Pranamasana, Prayer Position, Namaste…

We will use the common Anjali Mudra for the rest of this post

Anjali (ON-jol-ly) means offering, salutation, to honor or celebrate.

How to:

Bring your hands together in Prayer Position at Heart’s Center:
Line up your hands and fingers, fingers are pointing up.
Press your hands together gently and evenly.
Bow head slightly

Hands represent action.  You can bring your Anjali Mudra to the center of the chest, Heart Chakra (thumbs resting against the sternum), the Heart represents emotion.  You can bring your prayer position hands to your forehead, Brow Chakra (thumbs resting against the third eye) the Head represents intellect. You can also bring your hands to your Crown Chakra (above the head).

Prayer Position symbolizes unity.  You are connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain and are bringing all things into balance.  You become Centered.

Anjali Mudra is often used as a greeting and shows respect. This mudra is regularly used used with the word Namaste. The Anjali Mudra means much more than hello and goodbye.  It honors both the practitioner and recipient.

Uses and Benefits:

Helps Center
Shows Respect
Helps achieve a meditative state
Brings Focus
Helps alleviate Stress and anxiety
Brings a sense of humility
Stimulates the Heart Chakra (if hands are at heart center)
Stimulates the Third Eye (if hands are brought to the brow)

Asanas where the Anjali Mudra is commonly used:
The salutation Seal can really be used in any posture or seated Meditation, but you can find hands in Prayer Position regularly in:

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Vrkasana (Tree Pose)
Malasana (Garland Pose)
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Hanumanasana (Monkey Pose)
Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge)
Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

Try using Anjali Mudra during centering at the beginning of your Yoga Practice.

Read More about MUDRAS here

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