Leap of Faith Life

Leaps of Faith in Life, Travel, Yoga, and Happiness

Category: Yoga

What are mudras?

Mudras are to the hands as yoga is to the body or meditation is to the mind.   They’re gestures, or a way of holding your fingers to create energy or a feeling, in your mind and body.

You’ve Seen Them Before
The most common place you’ve seen them are on a statue of those in peaceful meditation, curling the fingers into a round circle – the most common with index finger touching thumb.

There is an expression – that everything you do with your hands is an expression of your heart. Think of bringing your hand to your heart in a pledge or in a heartfelt moment, to balling up the fist in a moment of anger.

hand

 

How to Use Them
You can shift your energy from what you currently feel (maybe anger as a fist) to what you want to feel (relaxing the hand, flipping the palm face up as a welcoming gesture).

To hold your fingers in a certain way makes a huge energetic impact with very little physical effort; the perfect way to calm and quiet the mind.

This works to stimulate energy pathways in the body. It’s a huge benefit to incorporate anytime you’re feeling physically or mentally run down.

Example – Knowledge Mudra:  Touch index finger to thumb. Used for wisdom, which is why you see so many statues of famous spiritual leaders with this gesture.

It stimulates concentration, memory and may reduce headaches.

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Tap into energy of the elements: Fire, air, space, earth, and water
Each finger represents an element. The thumb for fire, index for air, middle finger for space, ring finger for earth, and finally pinky finger for water.

hand 2

 

Fire Mudra (Thumb): *Fold ring finger down completely, and touch thumb tip to directly between the top and bottom knuckles: Increases the fire in the body, and reduces the earth element.

Speeds up metabolism to improve digestion and regulates the thyroid gland.

Air Mudra (Index Finger): Reduces excess air in the body.

It’s said to be good for constipation, flatulence, or decrease arthritis and neck pain.

Space Mudra (Middle Finger): Reduces emptiness in the body.

It’s said to be good for strengthening the heart chakra, ear/nose/throat, regulates motion sickness/vertigo, as well as improves listening and speaking.

Earth Mudra (Ring Finger): Connects with our body’s vital makeup of skin, muscles, bone, teeth, nails.

It’s said to increase stability, confidence, and strength.

Water Mudra (Pinky Finger): This position helps to hydrate the body’s skin, muscles, and cells.

It’s said to improve skin conditions, as well as those in the mouth like dryness.

When and where to practice
Practice in conjunction with your yoga, meditation or de-stressing routine when you wake up or go to bed.  Easy enough to do in meetings or in class under the table, or while traveling.

hands 9

You hold healing power in your hands, literally in each finger points of power. Power points.  I challenge you to try it for 7 days and see how you feel.

Think of something that will trigger you to use the mudra (such as before going to bed), and notice how you feel before, during and after.

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Let me know your experience, or if you use mudras already and what you think of them below!  Also, be sure to check out my YouTube video Cleansing Mudra: How To Tips + Tricks to learn more!

Does Yoga Really Work?

Plenty of people wrinkle their noses when they hear I’m a yoga instructor  

Assumptions, stereotypes and pictures of bendy people flash through their minds.  Boom – a wall goes up.
 
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How to Calm the F Down, and Connect with Your Breath

Or a literal title might be named, “How to calm down in any anxiety-giving situation, or situation you perceive to be negative.” Not as effective.

When the ship is going down, in the moment of anxiety-driven situations and high emotions (anger, frustration, jealousy, stress, or mind-blowing-madness), to say something like, “let’s block this negativity together,” might not have the same effect as the captain yelling to the group to regain control, “Just calm the F down! Everything’s going to be okay!”

Think about it – the adrenaline pumping through your body is like the crazed ship group running into each other to get to the life boats, and your mind is the captain trying to get their attention.

So, how do you calm the F down? Luckily, it’s easy to do – it’s called breathing.  Or, if you want to get fancy, prana, which means life force, energy, vital breath.

Yoga starts and ends with breath.  As do we. So it makes sense that we have control in any situation, negative or positive, to direct our emotions with our breath.  It might not feel like it at the time, but after some practice, it will get easier and more useful to you to use anywhere.

When you panic, or get upset, the breath tends to get short and fast.  This leads to less oxygen to the brain and the body, and induces a panic sensation in the body.  Think about when someone is hyperventilating – to get them to calm down you may have seen them breathe into a bag.  Part of the reason that helps is due to the focus on breath, to make it longer and fuller, rather than short and fast. Continue reading

Fifth Chakra – Throat (Part 5 of 7)

Your Fifth Chakra – The Throat 

 Your Fifth Chakra (the Vishudda in Sanskrit) lives in the throat, associates with the color blue, the ether/space element, and the mantra ‘I Speak Truth.’

Our choices are communicated with our voices, and a large part of how we express ourselves. Lying or not expressing true feelings can result in a “lump in the throat feeling” if not properly expressed. Those with a strong fifth energy center speak truth. Personal expression, creativity, honesty, and passion are all examples of a strong Vishudda.

Blue Fifth Chakra

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” -Epictetus

Fifth Chakra Cheat Sheet:
Sanskrit: Vishudda
Color: Blue
Lotus: 16 Petals
Element: Ether/Space
Mantra: I Speak
Chant: HAM
Asanas: Shoulder stands, fish pose, breathing exercises (pranayama)
Mudra: Fingers interlaced, thumbs touching to create a circle with your hands
Scents: Mint, White Sage, Eucalyptus
Teas: Herbal teas, fruit teas, licorice root
Stones: Blue Turquoise, Celestite, Aquamarine, Lapis Lazulia

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Chakra Series: Fourth – Heart Chakra (Part 4 of 7)

Your Fourth Chakra – The Heart Chakra:

Your Fourth Chakra, the Anahata Chakra, lives in the heart space, associates with the color green, the air element, and the mantra ‘Yam.’

Fourth Chakra Cheat Sheet:
Sanskrit: ANAHATA
Color: GREEN (secondary PINK)
Lotus:  TWELVE PETALS
Mantra: I LOVE
Word: LOVE
Chant: YAM
Asanas: OPEN HEART CENTER – BACK BENDS, CAMEL, SPHINX
Mudra: RIGHT HAND, TOUCH INDEX FINGER TO THUMB, PLACE IN CENTER OF CHEST WITH FINGER TIPS POINTING TOWARDS THE CHEST, LEFT HAND TO LEFT KNEE
Scents: ROSEWOOD, EUCALYPTUS, JASMINE
Teas: ROSEMARY AND RED ROSE PETALS
Stones: JADE, ROSE QUARTZ, EMERALD

Green Fourth Chakra

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -Dalai Lama

Pure, unconditional love lives here.  We feel compassion, kindness, love, acceptance, and at peace in this chakra. You will feel love from everyone you come across, and therefore not strain or stress over how the love flows from one certain person.  You also have compassion and forgiveness for yourself. 

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Chakra Series: Third – The Solar Plexus Chakra (Part 3 of 7)

Your Third Chakra – The Solar Plexus Chakra:

Solar Plexus Chakra

The Solar Plexus Chakra, or the Third Chakra, is located in between the rib cage and the belly button, associated with the color warm yellow and the element of Fire.  This chakra says “I DO or I CAN.”

Yellow Chakra

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” -Henry Stanley Haskins

Third Chakra Cheat Sheet: 

Sanskrit: MANIPURA
Color: YELLOW
Lotus: TEN PETALS
Element: FIRE
Mantra: I CAN
Word: POWER
Chant: RAM
Asanas: OPEN STERNUM – BACK BENDS, CAMEL, FLOOR BOW
Mudra: HANDS IN FRONT OF NAVAL, FINGERS OUTSTRETCHED AND ALL TIPS TOUCHING, RIGHT THUMB OVER LEFT THUMB
Scents: GRAPEFRUIT, LEMONGRASS, LEMON, PEPPERMINT
Tea: LEMON GRASS, CINNAMON, GINGER, LEMON PEEL (Lemon-Ginger anyone? Yum!)
Stones: TIGERS EYE AND AMBER (think of that beautiful warm yellow color).

This is the seat of ego identity and your power center.  Located here is your potential for transformation and soul integrity.  Your courage, self-esteem and willpower all reside here.  Any beliefs you have about yourself and your abilities, your “gut feelings,” so much is effected by this chakra because it is linked to what we BELIEVE we can do.

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Chakra Series: Second – Sacral Chakra (Part 2 of 7)

Your Second Chakra – The Sacral Chakra:

Sacral Chakra

Your Sacral Chakra lives in your hip space, your lower abdominal area, associates with the color orange, the water element, and the mantra ‘I FEEL.’

Second Chakra Quick Reference:
Sanskrit: SVADHISTHANA
Color: ORANGE
Lotus: SIX PETALS
Element: WATER
Mantra: I FEEL
Chant: VANG
Asanas: HIP OPENERS & TWISTS
Mudras: LEFT HAND UNDER RIGHT, THUMB TIPS TOUCHING
Scents: ORANGE, ROSE, JASMINE, GARDENIA
Tea: GREEN TEA, MANGO, ORANGE OR ROSEHIPS
Stones: CITRINE, TANGERINE QUARTS, MOONSTONE

Orange Second Chakra

“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” -Carol Welch

Sacral Chakra: Where the body holds energy from relationships with other people, our passion for life, creativity, sexuality and money issues.

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Chakra Series: First – Root Chakra (Part 1 of 7)

Your First Chakra – The Root Chakra:

Your Root Chakra lives at the base of the spine (tail bone), associates with the color red, the earth element, and the mantra ‘I AM.’

"There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it." ~Elizabeth A. Behnke

“There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it.” ~Elizabeth A. Behnke

First Chakra Cheat Sheet:
Sanskrit: Muladhara
Color: Red
Lotus: Four Petals
Element: Earth
Mantra: I AM
Chant: LAM
Asanas: Anything that connects the base of your spine to the earth
Mudra: Touch your index finger and thumb together to touch. Extend the rest of your fingers out.
Scents: Cedar, Geranium, and Patchouli
Tea: Green tea, Raspberry, Hibiscus
Stones: Ruby, Garnet, Fire Opal

This very first chakra is the base and beginning for the entire seven chakras located along the spine.  Therefore, if this chakra is out of balance, all seven power centers will feel off and out of alignment.

Root: Intuition, confidence and survival.  The root chakra releases frustration, blockages, and allows healing and manifestation of physical pleasure. Continue reading

The Power of Your First Yoga Class

“Yoga is not about being bendy … it is about breathing and moving and smiling on the inside.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the best.” – Author Unknown

We all had to start somewhere in yoga (or perhaps you have wanted to start).  That day took courage and unquenchable curiosity to drive or walk to the pre-chosen studio, ask for the paperwork to sign up, and roll out a mat in a little space in a foreign studio.

Yoga Studio

Add not speaking the same language as the instructor and those in class, and that was my first yoga experience: South Korea in 2007.

I wanted to try yoga for so long, but thought I lost the opportunity when I went to South Korea for my graduate degree in 2007.  I couldn’t speak the language, and I had never tried yoga – that sealed the deal to never allow myself inside a studio, right?

Well, it was for me, until my American friend told me he tried out the class and loved it.  So, I sheepishly went with him to the next session, and loved it too. I attended regularly for the full two years I lived in Seoul, and it saved my sanity during my MBA program.

I followed along well for the most part by simply watching the teacher and the other students around me.  My teacher spoke little English, but made us feel connected to the practice by simply stating two words in English – inhale and exhale.  She whispered these words whenever she walked near us – she knew what all yogis eventually learn: breath is the most important part.

Behind of course, simply showing up to the practice.

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