Monthly Archives: August 2013
“…mudras engage certain areas of the brain and/or soul and exercise a corresponding influence on them.” Gertrud Hirschi
The Ancients of the world used gestures – called mudras – to help with healing mind, body and spirit. No one knows their origin but it’s known that mudras were used in both Europe and Asia thousands of years ago.
I first discovered the Chin Mudra years ago when reading about ways to reduce stress. I had no idea at the time that it came from the Ancients – the book didn’t mention that or the name Chin Mudra – but it was effective.
Mudras are formed by bending, crossing, extending or touching specific fingers of our hand with other fingers of the same hand, and they influence our body and mind. Think about how we’ll cross our fingers for good luck! Have you ever wondered where that practice originated?
The best-known hand mudra in yoga is the Chin Mudra. It’s formed by touching the pad ofthe thumb to the pad of the index finger. It’s used frequently at the end of yoga classes with seated breathing and meditation and is a peaceful way to end a practice. My students love it.
The purpose of the Chin Mudra is to ground, focus and calm and it works especially well when combined with relaxing breathing like the belly breath.
If you are stressed, it’s a good idea to take some calming breaths first to get your breathing regulated, as we discussed in the 7 Steps to Relieve Stress blog, before starting the Chin Mudra. The mudra seems to be more effective when your body is more relaxed and your mind more positive.
Here’s the process:
- Begin in a seated, lying down, standing or walking position
- Begin belly breathing like was discussed in last week’s blog
- Relax your hands
- Touch your thumb pad to your index finger pad. Do this with each hand.
- Keep the pressure light
- Breathe gently keeping your attention on your hands and your breath
- Do this for several minutes
- Release your belly breathing and the mudra gently
- Take a few easy breaths before going on with your activities
How do you feel? I am continually amazed at and grateful for the wisdom of the Ancients.
“…lasting transformation of the breath usually begins with learning how to exhale more completely.” Dennis Lewis
Picture this: You’re at work, putting the finishing touches on a project that’s due tomorrow morning. You’re right on schedule, which is a good thing because this project is a big deal. Future business from this customer depends on a stellar job.
Now it’s time to hit the print button and you’ll be good to go. And then it happens — nothing! The printer worked fine minutes ago, why not now? And, of course, anyone in the office could help has already left for the day. They’ll be back tomorrow but not before you’re due at the customer’s office.
As you frantically search your brain for solutions and catastrophize about your future – STOP! Where is your breath? Chances are you’re either holding it or it’s high up in your chest. Maybe you’re close to hyperventilating. Bottom line, your breath is telling you – shouting at you – that you’re stressed.
Most of us get stressed out about something every day or every hour depending on the life we lead. And, the first step to reducing that stress is to become aware of your breathing pattern(s).
Where does your breath go when you get stressed? Personally, I tend to hold my breath. When I was in corporate America, my breath never, ever got below my upper chest because I was so constantly stressed that I never relaxed my belly. How about you?
The next time you get stressed take these steps:
- Recognize you’re feeling anxious and stressed
- Bring your attention to your breath
- Become aware of how you’re breathing. Are you holding? Is your breath short and uneven? Is it high up in your chest? Or something else?
- Bring your attention to your belly and relax it. That can be a challenge, especially if you’re extremely stressed. Over time, it will get easier. What I’ve found helps is to consciously relax your belly when you’re not stressed. Remember, practice when it’s not a crisis.
- Bring your attention to your exhale and start it from your low belly. As you exhale, feel your belly contract and move toward your spine.
- Take several breaths focusing awareness on your exhale.
- Lengthen your exhale gradually as you continue to exhale from your low belly.
How do you feel? More calm, I’m sure. Eventually, you’ll be able to do this very quickly.
Join us next week on Tuesday or Thursday for an introductory Viniyoga class. Click to learn more.
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