I have been finding it hard to focus lately so I am setting an intention to write about and change it the best I can. The most troubling thing about this distracted way of being is that I am feeling more and more separated from my friends. I do connect – on facebook, by email. But that doesn’t seem real anymore. There’s something very essential to our well-being about touch and being right there in front of someone. A hug, a face to face conversation, even a light touch on the shoulder is something that connects us in a way that a chat online will never touch. So now each day, I just stop whatever I am doing and pay attention to the present moment, my surroundings, the touch of my fingers on this keyboard. I bring myself present to my state of body and state of mind. I can get so distracted by my work on the computer that I forget to drink water. I love my work – I teach, but most of the rest of the time, I write, manage scheduling, manage my home and finances for my husband’s business and also have a personal life that mostly consists of my adult children and my grandchildren. Of course my husband is always there in the evenings and we often support each other in our distractions. We are both comfortable with silence and doing nothing or simply both listening or reading something while in the same room. (It’s lovely actually)…
One change I’m going to make – and already started – is to sit down and write a letter, and set up coffee dates with friends I rarely ever see anymore. I would love to have everyone over for dinner, even though between me, my husband and my friends, – we can’t seem to find a day or time that will work. I will keep trying though. We must try to stay connected to ourselves and each other.
It may not be for everybody, but I see that in our studio, there’s a group of yoga students that keeps growing in size and that the distinguishing gem there is that they really connect with each other. There’s something about working hard for 90 minutes, breathing in the same rhythm and sweating that brings people together. There’s a thing called brain entrainment and I think this happens in that yoga class (Ashtanga Primary Series). I’ve experienced it, even though I’m very introverted and in a group, I tend to try to hide in the background, unless I must be in the lead. I do like to be around that group. I like the feel of their shared experience and camaraderie. It makes me happy to see everyone talking to each other like they’re old friends even though some have just met. Yoga can do that.
We’re on the right track. My goal is to be less distracted and more connected and I’m very grateful I can create that in my own work. Managing a yoga studio is not for the faint of heart, and I am grateful I can do it with a business partner. I used to do it as a sole proprietor and it was a great training, but ultimately unsustainable. I’m also grateful my husband earns enough that I can do this work. It will take a couple of years for me to earn a living income from my work, and he is my champion for supporting me and this community. If you have read this far, now you know who makes it possible for me to do the work I do. Say thank you to Angus next time you see him. – Karen Kinnard
There are no quick answers here. True healing is a journey of the individual in a web of possibilities. The more you truly care for yourself, the more likely you will recover and find the best answers for yourself. You are the one who heals and if something or someone feels ‘right’ go with it and if it feels ‘off’ or ‘wrong ‘ drop it fast. You don’t have time to waste.
Here’s some of my story. Read it, take what feels right for you and ignore the rest. Only you can heal yourself, your job is to find what is right for your own personal journey, what worked for me, may not work for you. It might though… Here’s a little bit about my journey.
April – May 2018…
I haven’t written much lately because 2-1/2 months ago I started on a Lyme protocol that is (good news) effective and (bad news) causing major Herxheimer reactions (which in healing Lyme’s is the good/bad). I cannot believe how much I have learned from this experience. Right now I’m typing as fast as I can because I have a short window of time each day when I have clarity of thought and enough physical energy to complete tasks I had to put off until this window of clear energy. So there’s one thing – efficiency and accomplishment. I can accomplish a lot in a little bit of time.
However, this window of time lasts about 4-6 hours, then as the “window closes”, I experience a mixture of pain, physical exhaustion, or brain fog. Sometimes all of these, sometimes just one or two. It is entirely unpredictable. This article may jump around a bit, welcome to Lyme brain…
….Thoughts on dealing with Lyme’s:
I’m two months in to my second round of Lyme disease treatment. I learned a year ago that I had chronic Lyme and then I realized, this year, that I wasn’t done with it again, because I was getting progressively more sore all over my body.
I went to my alternative doc and he tested me again and said that yes, you have Lyme disease and you’ve had it for 7 years. (The test was by a traditionally trained acupuncturist who is also trained in the latest and most advanced natural and energetic therapies in the world.)
Lyme’s can hide in the body so there aren’t tests that can accurately test for Lyme. I trust my alternative health practitioners and haven’t had any blood tests. (now many medical doctors are saying, if you think you have Lymes, don’t test for it before you start treating yourself–there are no accurate tests. Doctors are treating it not because of a blood test but because of a set of symptoms).
As soon as I started the treatment, February 23, 2018, I started to experience Herxheimer reactions (when body is fighting something, symptoms can worsen). This started manifesting as exhaustion and brain fog.
Since then each day is different- some days I’ll go through 3-4 days of bone deep fatigue accompanied by brain fog. Some days, nerve pain and difficulty with speech. Every day ends early and there are naps also.
A rare day is one where I can be active and get my work in, teach, clean house and feed myself.
Every other normal day I must plan for the basics, take my supplements, medicine (herbal and homeopathic both), eat as healthy as possible, schedule my work for energetic hours and schedule my naps in daily.
This week I’m nearly done with 2 months of treatment and one more dose of a herbal/homeopathic that stimulates my immune system to fight and kill Lyme co-infections
This week I’ve had more than usual pain, fatigue and brain fog. And another new symptom…trembling – bone deep trembling.
I have to keep telling myself that this too will pass, that because of the flare ups- a detox reaction, the medicine is working and to trust my body – which has utterly betrayed me – to heal itself.
I’ve been reading about one woman’s journey to health after 20 years of chronic disabling symptoms from Lyme and other chronic illness- so I know I’m on the right path. Her story is giving me hope. It’s rare to find a story where someone has recovered from this. It’s easy to find a story of continual decline not unlike MS or cancer. Yes it’s that serious. I didn’t take it that seriously before. It is just as potentially slowly fatal as having cancer, Parkinson’s, MS or ALS.
Several people also become so depressed they commit suicide.
This is not who I am. I am still co-managing a yoga studio, teaching yoga, training teachers and most importantly, take time each week to be with my grandchildren.
Much of my time is spent working on my self care and less time with outings, it is a sacrifice I have had no choice but to make. I’m learning ever more that self care is so hard for me. It feels lazy, weak and selfish to spend whole days or even half days doing what my body tells me is best for healing.
I write this to give reality, awareness of Lyme’s and the importance of self care.
I’m also writing this in hopes that my students or future students will still come do yoga with me because I feel most ‘me’ when I’m teaching. Even though I forget words I can still see something I can do to teach you, even though I may have a tremble, wobble or many days can’t use my right leg – I can still demonstrate one side!
Yoga has been a lifesaver. It always clears the fog if even for a short time, I feel so much better physically right after a practice and it also helps my body clear and detox the die off of the Lyme’s. And from 30 years of practice – I know how to listen to myself, my body and also to you.
Later still in the span of time…
Day 80(?) Took second dose of 1M last night. Super sleepy right now – had a mild fever this morning. Still…seems like less pain in my body. I have lost about 6 pounds since adding super smoothies to my daily diet. Very simple and basic diet – no sugar, no grains, no beans or nuts. 80% of calories is greens, vegetables and some fruit. Morning a pasture raised chicken egg, lunch and dinner big salad and a small portion of wild caught fish/organic/grass fed meat.
Around the 4th month of treatment. I have a little more endurance and time of activity per day. If I get an hour or two nap in afternoon and 8 hours of sleep at night I’m pretty much feeling normal energy – an overactive day makes me bone deep exhausted the next so it’s like an overactive day I’m stealing much of the next day’s energy.
I am trying to not think about it in that way. Instead I focus on the present and in feeling my energy- to tune in to what I need right in that moment to feel well. Most of the time I notice that what I need to do is to let go, relax and allow the wisdom of my body to do what’s necessary to bring itself into balance. More and more I’m seeing how powerful it is to just be and not do. To have my central focus in life to be me, do what feels right in the moment and others around me start doing the same for themselves. Although this sounds selfish. It is the most generous thing one can do. I definitely have more energy to put into my life- I have been able to make smoothies everyday for my husband and I. I have been able to spend time with my grandchildren- even an overnight last night was not overtaxing and taught me more about my own energy management.
I have been following a blog, Real Food Rebel – I found Brenda Cosentino by googling “healed from Lyme’s” because I was tired of only finding chronic deterioration in Lyme Groups and blogs. The drama of this disease may be interesting reading, but I want to get well. I’m following much of what Brenda recommends in her blog – she has been free of Lyme’s and its symptoms now for 3 years. That’s where I want to be in 3 years. I’m taking the Desert Biological, DesBio products and now on my 3rd box – 2nd 2-1/2 months treatment with a different potency – under the guidance of Warren King, my natural doc. I’ve also purchased the Wahl’s Protocol Book and am following a strict anti-inflammatory diet – drinking smoothies daily and a lot of vegetables and some recommended fruits. Also I have to find time for daily epsom salt baths (haven’t quite achieve daily yet) and naps. The naps I’m pretty committed to. I really don’t have a choice. My brain or body or both simply stop working for the day at some point, so I find that if I schedule in a nap from 3-4 or 3-5 pm each day, I have some time in the evening where I’m clear headed enough to do easy things, like teach yoga (I have taught now for 15 years, so it is imbedded in my DNA).
Self-Care Mastery…around month 4
I just wanted to say hi and check in to share these things – I don’t have a huge amount of time to write, but I will do my best to keep updating this blog. Oh! Another thing I have learned is how to ask for help and to say “no” or “I can’t promise that right now”. Letting go of “having to do it all” was impossible for me before this. Now I have no choice but to let go and right now I still can’t wrap my head around how hard this is to do for me – but learning to let go and trust in the support all around me – people, friends, family, God, angels, nature, sunshine, air…. – it is an amazing discovery.
I have one more vial in the 1M Des Bio series for Borrelia. I am still gradually experiencing less pain, less trembling, more clarity. Although Saturday (2 days ago, I went to 3 things – listened to a lecture, attended a community grand opening event, then a yoga community picnic). At 4:40 pm, I had to abruptly gather my things and leave. I didn’t even have the clarity to say goodbye. My head felt like it was stuffed full of mud and it might burst open and total brain shut down was imminent. I laid down at home to sleep for about 20 minutes, then woke up to a mostly clear head again.
Today, I actually got up and left early when I didn’t have to because one of my favorite teachers, Govinda, is at the studio. I’ll write more about my experience with him in a later blog – because it has been great.
Oh, and I’m still on the diet – it’s the Wahl’s Protocol. Look it up, there’s a book. I didn’t do it to lose weight, just to feel better, but I have lost 8 lbs. Actually two more would be perfect weight for me. Pretty wild! I am at least getting the appearance (if not the feel…) of my body back. Now for building strength and endurance. Until next time…
July 10 –
I’ll be finished with this 3rd round of treatment by the end of this week. My normal energy is nearly back. I’m having more clarity and freedom from pain each week. I have lost 10 pounds. I’m practicing yoga almost daily. Walking is still difficult, but that’s from nerve damage and a hip joint that may be displaced a bit due to scoliosis. So the next step after getting checked for the Lyme’s treatment progress will be to get some bodywork again. I’m looking into a massage therapist who helped a friend of mine with her hip pain.
I’ve added a few supplements to my diet that seem to be helping also. MSM flakes, chlorella, SCRAM (a parasite herbal supplement), and Charlotte’s Web CBD oil which is supposed to help with pain and inflammation. I also tried ice baths (recommended by a teacher friend) and that helped fast with pain/inflammation. Now instead of a whole bath, I’m trying out a bucket of ice water for my most painful leg. This is supposed to have the same effect as dipping whole body in ice water.
I’ll update further after I see my doc next week. Until then if you have a chronic illness or pain – work hard, be consistent (daily practice!) — this has taken me 6 months. I have been in pain for a few years now, so this is a huge improvement that I have almost normal energy and very little pain now.
July 18, 2018 Free of Lymes
I visited Warren King yesterday my LAc. I’m now finished with Lyme’s treatment. It’s gone. I cried when I found out.
I will be spending the next two months rebuilding my energy level and continuing to repair nerve damage (which can take years).
An acupuncturist diagnosis uses pulses and I don’t understand it so won’t attempt to explain it. He also has decades of success treating numerous (usually chronic) health issues and it’s a different philosophy than allopathy.
Every human being is unique. This physician and others who treat the whole patient see the patient and each time ask the body what is needed to heal and bring it into balance. I chose Warren King because I’ve been going to him for help for years and always have had good results.
How I found him: I found the most effective therapies (by luck, God’s Grace, and asked for referrals. A company in Canada recommended Warren King to me years ago and I’ve been visiting him ever since for when I need help with major health challenges.
I attended some courses in a homeopathic therapy while in college and also am certified in Natural Therapies through Australasian College of Herbal studies.
I’ve noticed that those people who improve or recover from autoimmune and chronic disease are
- Typically well educated and
- Never stop seeking answers.
- They also believe they will get well.
- Find a treatment they believe will help and consistently stick with it
- Keep trying and never give up
- Reorder their lives to put self care as number one priority
- Have someone or more than one person in their life who is supportive
- Have a greater mission or purpose to challenge and inspire them to be fully alive
- Have a spiritual practice of some kind with a deep inner faith in something greater than me, and benevolent and loving universe or God.
I have my husband who is always cheering me on, he’s always working hard to pay for what we need and also making me food when I can’t because I’m too tired.
There’s my grandchildren who love me and tell me that and make me laugh and motivate me to move.
My adult children – who help where and when they can. My son Josh got me back into playing violin with him! My daughter Jasmine does my hair. It always looks great and she also has been on her own healing and powerful journey. They all make me so proud and I want so much to be around and healthy to see them continue to lead in their lives and they are exceptional community leaders one quietly and the other out loud and fully expressed. My son Jacob is always there too in spirit – I feel his loving presence and am reminded to be kind to everyone no matter what because you never truly know the pain and suffering that could be lurking inside of someone and behind their mask. You never know that it could be your kind, supportive words and light shining in your eyes that sparks their own healing.
My yoga studio community. My business partner Andrew who is also full up with life challenges is always there for me and all the teachers and students in our little community studio are always cheering me on and helping out and pitching in. It’s such a beautiful thing we are growing together. And we are creating some more projects and expanding to support our greater communities. What a great place to be.
This is life. To recover from life threatening autoimmune disease- I found the wellspring of life. It is my own wellspring. There is one inside each one of us and it is as unique and individual as your fingerprint- yet there are the common threads that bind us all. I am well. I am learning a new language of abundance and strengthening my vocabulary of possibility. I am self care, self love and self expression.
This journey is still ongoing. The next step for me is the next step. I’ve learned to take one day, one moment at a time. If I’m not in pain or too tired, it is easier to find what is right for me. Yet, no matter how I am feeling, I have a plan each day. The plan is to pause between …. Everything. The plan is to create space always for myself first. I am here to serve and I must serve me first to build and gather the strength to be of service. If I am feeling well and strong, the choice is before me. I include myself in this. Today I am feeling well and strong. I was asked to help out with something today – I said no. I am conserving energy for myself. I’m completing tasks at home and resting to prepare for teaching yoga tonight.
My class tonight will be great because I am embodying self care – exactly what I want my students to learn.
For the next two months, I am following a new protocol given to me by my Lyme doc. I’m taking a homeopathic remedy (Stress EZ) to help to heal my nervous system. I’m supposed to eat miso soup every day for two months, drink aloe vera juice, use ½ tsp of CALM magnesium powder in water everyday and make sure I take 3000 IU of Vitamin D3. Nothing else. This is less than I have been taking… a lot less. I feel giddy about that. I am so happy to be free of the Lymes disease.
There is a lot of rebuilding ahead for me. I get tired very easily. I walked maybe a quarter mile yesterday and I got very tired, so took a nap in the afternoon, then went to bed very early and fell right asleep. I woke up at 4:41 this morning – wide awake, so I got up with renewed energy. I still have nerve pain, trouble walking – the nerves in my right leg are always sore, muscles atrophied, and the right hip joint is stuck out a bit (due in part to brain imbalance – from head injury in 2010 and Lymes rushing to the weaker areas a year later). My pelvis is crooked, the slowly unwinding from my yoga practice with Lynn Shuck, Eischens Yoga teacher.
I’m also still following the Wahl Protocol diet. It takes about 30 minutes or more to prepare the ingredients for the smoothie I drink every day. I usually make enough for two days at a time. I still prefer to sit and write when I know I should get up and walk or do yoga. I still am having trouble meditating on my own, so I am using a meditation app and playing guided meditations.
I am still happy with the progress. You see, I have been trying to rebuild my strength in my right hip and leg for over two years. Every time I thought it was getting better – every day or week or month when I had a day where my leg would support my weight (years 2016, 2017 and the first half of 2018), I would think, “it’s getting better!” or “I’m getting stronger!” and then the very next day, I would be laid up with sciatic pain and nerve pain in my entire right leg. I watched while I continued to hold onto an extra 10 lbs I gained in 2015 from hernia repair surgery just stayed around and my muscle from years of ashtanga yoga practice, wasted away and was replaced by unhealthy fat and scar tissue which entrapped more nerves damaged by the borrelia burgdorferi spirochete continued to wreak havoc on my immune system, brain, nerves, joints, muscle, ligaments and tendons. Any attempt I made a strengthening anything was blocked by my body fighting an invader that it could not find or kill because the disease hides itself within a biofilm inside the body tissues to wait until there’s stress. Any kind of stress where my body’s defenses are overwhelmed. It became a never ending cycle that causes many people with the disease to give up and even take their own lives.
You see, I cannot do that. First of all, I don’t give up. Second of all, even if I wanted to, my family….we all learned what the impact of suicide is because we have all been trying to live after my son Jacob took his own life in 2014.
So yes, I am happy with the progress I am making. I have come out of the darkness and back into the light. I’ve found my own light again. I am sad, triumphant, joyful, and in love with it all again at a much deeper, fuller level than I have ever been.
Self love, self care. This is the real path. This is how to defeat the enemy. Surround yourself with love, love yourself, heal yourself and protect yourself. That is what I want to teach now, when I teach. The rest of the time…I follow my own teachings.
By Karen Kinnard, E-RYT
Bandhas are a mystery to most yoga practitioners and mastering them can be a lifelong endeavor. As with all of yoga, consistent practice over a long period of time will reap the benefits. This article gives some definitions of bandhas, how to do them and some of their amazing benefits. It also describes some of the hundreds of mudras you can practice. Mudras also have a subtle effect on the body/mind. Read on and enjoy this exploration into these practices.
A couple definitions of bandhas:
- These are neuromuscular locks and gestures. Bandhas are safely locked during the process of breath-holding Kumbhaka. Bandhas and Mudras are advanced techniques in Hatha Yoga and are used mainly for culturing of emotions. They also help the aspirants to still the mind.
- Several types of muscular contractions, called bandhas (pronounced buhn duh, and meaning to lock) are used in Hatha yoga, both in pranayama breathing and asana practice. The three most important are: root lock: Mula Bandha; the chin lock: Jalandhara Bandha (meaning water pipe); and the stomach lock: Uddiyana Bandha (meaning upward).
There are 3 main types of bandhas in yoga asana practice:
What is it? The simple answer is – chin lock. How to do it properly? There are a couple of different ways and probably more ways depending on what teacher you talk to. Basically, when practicing this, you need to sit upright with good posture, your legs are either straight out in front of you (as in ashtanga yoga’s dandasana – staff pose) hands pressed into the floor beneath your shoulders (with shoulders pulled down and in); and the chin pressed into the upper the spot at the top of center of your collar bones.
This bandha is at first performed in the ashtanga primary series practice by restricting the ujjayi breath so that the chin is pressed into the top center of the collar bones.
Only at more advanced levels do students learn to incorporate retention, or breath holding, into pranayama. At this point Jalandhara Bandha, the chin lock, is introduced. Retention is said to be important because “it super-injects prana into the system,” says Karunananda, and “builds up tremendous vitality.” Students are also sometimes invited to incorporate healing visualizations into this practice. “As you inhale you can visualize that you’re drawing into yourself unlimited quantities of prana–pure, healing, cosmic, divine energy,” Swami Karunananda says.
“You can picture any form of natural energy that appeals to you. Then on the exhalation, visualize all the toxins, all the impurities, all the problems leaving with the breath.” (Integral Yoga – Satchidinanda) (from an article in Yoga Journal: Prescriptions for Pranayama; YJ profiles the pranayama practices of six yoga traditions and finds differences ranging from the subtle to the profound. By Claudia Cummins)
Benefits: This bandha presses on the thyroid and parathyroid glands in the throat, thus benefiting the glands by bringing in more blood flow. These glands regulate the body’s metabolism. Metabolism is basically the body’s way of regulating everything: weight, body temperature, hunger, thirst, hormones, growth and development (thus its reputation for increasing longevity), regulates bone calcification, helps to balance the nervous system functioning. Problems with the thyroid can be detected if you have fatigue, mysterious weight gain or loss, muscle and joint pain, weakness in certain muscles, issues with skin or hair.
Your mood is also affected by the thyroid gland. Anxiety, depression or unsettled emotions can manifest just by this gland not functioning up to par. (so do this bandha and get some organic iodine in your diet too as this is missing from our diets).
What is it? In this bandha, breath is expelled fully and the abdomen is pulled in and up into the cavity of the rib cage – this completely deflates the diaphragm. Then the air is slowly pulled back in, and fully, to the diaphragm.
- Strengthens the abdominal muscles and diaphragm
- Massages abdominal viscera, the solar plexus, and the heart and lungs
- Increases gastric fire; improves digestion, assimilation, and elimination; and purifies the digestive tract of toxins
- Stimulates blood circulation in the abdomen and blood flow to the brain
- Stimulates and lifts the energy of the lower belly (apana vayu), to unite it with the energies localized in the navel (samana vayu) and heart (prana vayu)
Mula bandha is said to cut through brahma granthi, the energetic knot of our resistance to change, which lies in muladhara chakra. On the physical level, practicing mula bandha creates attentiveness in the supportive musculature of the pelvis. This increases the stability of the pelvis, and, since the pelvis is the seat of the spine, its stability creates a safe environment for spinal movement. Thus, mula bandha strengthens—and teaches the importance of—the solid foundation that should underlie any movement.
Mula bandha also lifts and compresses the bowel and lower abdominal region. This creates a solid foundation, a platform under the breath that makes it possible to increase or decrease the pressure inside the torso and facilitate movement. This bandha creates lightness and fluidity; when it is properly applied, the body is less earth-bound and more mobile.
Through gradual refinement, mula bandha becomes less muscular and more subtle, energetic, and etheric. This movement from outside to inside, from mundane to rarefied, from unconsciousness to enlightenment, is the basic pattern of transcendental yogic awakening. On an energetic level, mula bandha allows us to feel, restrain, and then direct our energies toward enlightenment. Finally, when practicing mula bandha on the highest level, the yogi sees the Divine in all with equanimity and detachment.
There are subtle benefits for practicing both bandhas and mudras in your yoga and meditation practices. Both tools give us a focus for our minds, just like the breath in our practices. This brings us into the present moment and we begin to become more aware of subtleties in our bodies and in our minds.
When practiced over a long period of time, these subtle sparks of awareness become a pathway and then a river of consciousness that expands and permeates all of our lives. You will begin to notice how you interact with everything and everyone, from the point of view of an observer. When you begin to connect with the you who is the observer, then you can begin the true yoga. We all have these moments and maybe many of them, but how many and for how much of your day are you experiencing this level of awareness?
Again, this comes with practice, grows with practice and someday, over a lifetime a practice, may become who you are all of the time. Your truest version of your self.
The word mudra means “seal”. From Yoga Journal: “our fingers and toes (as well as our hands and feet) are charged with divine power, which, when intelligently accessed and properly applied, can intensify the transformative power of the practice.
Mudras:Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrude Hirschi, pp 13-14
- Posture should be symmetrical
- Exhale vigorously several times prior to practicing mudra – making room!
- Always lengthen the pause after inhaling and after exhaling by several seconds. Don’t force it, allow it to happen as you focus on your breathing.
- When practicing to calm yourself, slow your breathing.
- When practicing to refresh yourself, intensify your breathing
- Optimal breath quality is slow, deep, rhythmic, flowing, and fine.
At the beginning of a mudra meditation, exhale vigorously several times and then let the breath become deeper and slower. You now have three possibilities:
- First: Focus on your hands and fingers, perceive the gentle pressure where they touch each other;
- Second: While inhaling, you can press the fingertips together a bit more and let go of the pressure when exhaling;
- Third: You can do it the other way around and apply a bit more pressure while exhaling and let go of the pressure when inhaling.
Every variation has its own special effect. The first centers, creates inner equilibrium and builds up strength in general. The second variation strengthens the will and refreshes. The third calms and relaxes.
Mudras can be consciously practiced to balance the chakras, can be used with color, to rejuvenate yourself, and to heal just about anything. Mudras action begins at the subtle energy level, which heals emotionally, then acts on the physical body. Practice mudras for 3-12 minutes for a hand mudra concentrating on an affirmation, releasing negativity and feeling the energy connection the mudra enables in the body/mind.
Other ways to practice:
- Practice a meditation for each finger
- Practice specific mudras. There are many resources for finding out specific mudras. Many books, YouTube videos, meditation audios, I’ve provided a few resources below, but it’s also fun to google what you want specifically and research them yourself. Don’t be afraid to try them – you can’t do them wrong – even if it’s not expert, you’ll derive benefits.
- Create your own mudras. After you have practiced concentrating on mudras that you’ve found, and begin to notice the subtle effects and differences between them, you can experiment with some of your own. Trust your intuition to guide you.
Some of the most common mudras
-(you may not even realize they’re mudras, they’re so common)!
- Gyana Mudra: OK – the term “okay” made with the hands is a mudra! Depending on how you hold the other three fingers and where on the fingers your thumb and forefinger touch – will determine what the focus of these mudras are for:
- rest both hands face up on your lap (on either knee), touch the tips of thumb and forefinger together – the other 3 fingers are held closely together.
- place your mental focus on your breath; then place your focus on the center of your head, repeating a mantra will help to keep your mind steady (see article on mantras)
- benefits of performing this mudra include better mental focus and creativity, thus also helping you to perform all of daily life with greater ease
- Anjali Mudra: Namaste, prayer position. This mudra is so common, we probably don’t even realize we’re practicing a mudra. All people, regardless of religion, have practiced this mudra.
How to perform this mudra: place the fingers of both hands together and place palms together in front of your heart, thumbs touching your sternum, fingers pointing upward. Focus on your heart.
Benefits of performing anjali mudra: (below – from the webpage: https://www.thedailymeditation.com/anjali-mudra-position-benefits-and-meaning)
- Anjali mudra massively relieves anxiety.
- Bringing the palms together in the Anjali Mudra connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
- The Anjali Mudra connects the practitioner with spirituality / god / divinity.
- The mudra promotes respect for oneself and others.
- It is a useful mudra for entering into a meditative state.
- The mudra is a natural remedy for beating stress.
- Prana Mudra or the Peace sign: Prana mudra — the name is self explanatory – prana is the life force energy. So if you want to enhance your life force, practice this mudra! It is also known as a healing mudra. It helps to relieve fatigue, anxiety, and helps the immune system. Practicing this mudra regularly will help make these subtle changes more permanent. I’ve noticed when making a change to improve my own health and wellbeing, that I notice changes with a week, but the changes are dramatically improved if I stick to it for 8 weeks.
Are bandhas and mudras necessary to practice yoga?
When you first begin practicing yoga it’s not necessary. To continue practicing and reap the benefits of a yoga practice the bandhas are necessary. When I began practicing 30 years ago, I didn’t know what I was doing. I still practiced and grew steadily in awareness. In hindsight, this could have been easier had I known about these two tools.
It only took me a few months after adding bandhas into my yoga practice, that I began to notice I my strength increasing dramatically. I’ve run track, lifted weights and practiced yoga for a long time, so I know the increased strength was a direct result. Try it for yourself!