In this new series, I’m introducing everyday yoga therapy practices for bringing balance into your holistic health routine. As a part of this series that combines mindful movement and meditation, one element will include simple mudras for directing your attention/intention. Mudras are gestures of the hands, face and body that promote balanced health on all levels. When these gestures are used consciously, their healing potential is powerful. Though the work itself is quite subtle, when practiced over a period of time you will begin to refine your awareness and experience the deep shifts in body-mind healing that come with this practice.
With the holidays upon us, this series will start with my favorite mudras for improving digestion. In Ayurveda, our inner fire known as, agni, helps us to digest the world we take in – both physical and emotional. This first mudra, Achala Agni Mudra, directs the breath and awareness into the solar plexus chakra, increasing movement of the abdomen and diaphragm that supports optimal digestion. It also nourishes all three doshas – vata, pitta, kapha – and encourages a healthy cycle of assimilation and elimination with the subtle movement of apana vayu (the downward flow of energy). When we can physically process all the food we take in and receive the energy we need from that nourishment, we can better assimilate the emotional experiences of our life. In other words, when we remove the toxins from our physical body and our bowel, we clear a pathway for clear thinking and feeling.
1. Make the hands into fists with the thumbs on the outside, resting on the second joint of the middle finger.
2. Extend the index fingers straight out and touch the tips of the index fingers together.
3. Then touch the tips of the thumbs together.
4. Turn the palms to face upward, and rest the hands at the solar plexus (right above the naval/below the sternum).
5. The index fingers will form an arrow that points forward, outward from the chest.
6. Relax the shoulders back and down, sitting tall with the spine aligned and the heart lifted.
7. Close the eyes and notice the breath. As you breathe, each breath sends awareness into the hands forming the mudra and around the solar plexus.
8. Feel how each breath sends warmth into this space, sensing the growing flame of radiant energy infusing into your stomach and your intestines. This warmth and slowness of breath fills your body with a radiant energy, nourishing every cell of your body.
9. Remain here for several minutes in stillness and experience the growing flame as you continue to breath deeply and steadily.
As energy and clarity infuse into the whole body, visualize what you are releasing as this inner fire burns through thoughts and feelings that have been left undigested.
10. When ready to finish, take a few deep breaths and slowly release the mudra, allow your hands to rest gently on the knees. Take a moment to feel a sense of balanced energy and give gratitude for the brilliance of your body.
Note: This modified mudra practice is from Joseph & Lillian LePage’s book “Mudras for Healing & Transformation”, I highly encourage all to order a copy to explore this beautiful practice in more depth.