When we study Eastern philosophies and the yogic methods of Hinduism and Buddhism, we often come across practices of systematic hand gestures. The rites, rituals, initiations, dances, and spiritual disciplines of these traditions are replete with multifold forms of hand gestures with symbolic meanings and empowering virtues. In Sanskrit these gestures are called mudra. Mudra means "seal," or "symbol." The word has various connotations or definitions in Yogic and Tantric philosophies. In Hatha yoga, mudras are special physical asanas, or body-postures; they are also certain exercises or processes that arouse into activity one's innate energies.
Most of you are familiar with anjali mudra, which we often take at the beginning or ending of our practice. Anjali mudra is putting the 2 hands together, in a prayer postition , sometimes at the heart center and often, I'll use it in front of the brow (3rd eye), throat, belly really whererever I need to focus and direct healing energy into. Anjali means divine offering, so the reason we use it before or after practice when we say namaste, is to honor our practice as an offering, not only to ourselves, but of all beings we co-exist and co-create with.
I came up with alliance mudra one day while practicing alone at the studio. I was finished flowing through my sun salutations and standing series and on this particular day, felt called to just sit still. So I sat. My hands fell into a position, one in front of my heart (like half of anjali mudra)and my other hand fell in front of my 3rd eye. Interestingly, my intention that day before practice was to connect with my roots-all the people who had come into my life that brought me to my current place in the circle of life. On this particular day, I needed guidance- I felt alone and like I had to do it all myself. I really needed to humble myself and remember that I was surrounded by help, love and support and that my life was indeed, and always is, flowing just as it should be. When I took this mudra, my father, who passed almost a year and a half ago, came into my heart and mind. He was one of my greatest allies in the building of Sacred Space Yoga and more importantly, a person who every day of his life, reminded me to follow my heart's bliss.
I've shared this mudra with others, introducing it to class this week and at the Healing Retreat, as a tool to connect with our allies. As spiritual seekers, we are told often to love ourselves, but this can be elusive-we still struggle with self-punishing habits after trying so hard to change and often times, we feel isolated and lonely. When loving ourselves becomes too hard, too big an effort, we can start small. We can remember our allies: helpers, friend and guides, which can be dead or living, animal or human, or any other creature of the imagination!
Take this mudra (see the picture) You can take this mudra in any posture: Standing, sitting or lying down. Close your eyes. Use all of your senses to call into your mind and hearts eye, your ally-you could be working with a pet, a child, a lover, a mountain, a tree, the ocean, a deity. Imagine your ally placing their hand (or paw) against your hand. Together, you both complete a full anjali mudra, each one of you a perfect half.
Now breathe and keep visualizing your ally's steady presence, palms soft, heart open as you merge and connect with all the love, gratitude, lessons, and support they have given you in the past, the present and even the imagined future.
Silently, bow to your ally and know that they are there for you, unconditionally. Remember their light, their love, their goodness. Feel it. Bathe in it. Through this conscious remembrance, perhaps you can find your way back to deep appreciation and love for everything you are in this moment.
With deep appreciation to all of my students who are incredible allies and teachers. Namaste. Kim
Fri, November 13, 2009
by Kim Groark