Yoga Teacher

Mudra Monday: Bhramara Mudra & Pranayama

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Bhramara is the Sanskrit word for male bee and is also a form of Indian dance

This mudra is particularly helpful in relieving respiratory allergy symptoms that are caused by a weakened immune system, particularly during the Spring season. It can also be practiced when we are experiencing a runny nose or congestion in the lungs and sinuses.

As part of a regular practice it is said to improve the state of our intestinal flora, which can be negatively affected by antibiotics and other allergy-related medications. This can result in mucus in the frontal sinuses, bronchi and intestinal tract, as well as the emergence of a variety of skin rashes. The changing of the seasons, pollen and animal hairs are often only the triggers, but not the true cause of allergic reactions.

To perform this mudra, both hands mimic the form of a bee in flight at the same time. Begin by placing the index finger at the recess of the thumb and join the tip of the thumb to the tip of the middle finger. Allow the ring and the pinky finger to extend outwards. Hold this position for anywhere between 8 to 20 minutes, 4-5 times per day.

To further strengthen your practice, you can combine this mudra with Brahmari pranayama, which is named after the humming black bee. This breathing practice shifts the autonomic nervous system into parasympathetic dominance, which in turn reduces stress, anxiety and anxious depression in particular. The sound helps to shut out mental stimulation, switching off the thinking mind. A lower pitch can be more calming or an entirely silent practice can be done at any time when you are feeling stressed.

When the sinuses are blocked, the vibrations from bhramari aid in clearing the head. Taking the pitch of the hum to a higher frequency can be helpful for this. If suffering from insomnia, practicing a lower pitch at night while using shanmukhi mudra can be useful.

To practice brahmari pranayama, lengthen the vertical axis of the spine in a seated position and align the chin and forehead vertically. Begin by verbalising an actual buzzing sound, slowly softening the buzz to a hum as you gently close the lips until they touch lightly, allowing the jaw to stay relaxed by leaving a space between the teeth. This allows you to feel how the hum is created. Now attempt to control your exhalations, maintaining a steady, smooth, even and continuous sound. Allow your inhalations to happen slowly and steadily between rounds, rather than quickly drawing the breath in.

For the fellow yoga teachers amongst you, this a truly wonderful way to begin a group class. Instruct your students on how to perform the bee breath and then ask them to continue the breath on their own. Request that they hum until the end of each exhalation and continue to do so for around three to five full minutes. Over time, the various lengths of your students’ breath will come together to form one continuous hum, bathing your class in the vibrational qualities of brahmari pranayama. The result is an instantaneous change of the energy in the room, bringing students into an uplifted, deeply meditative state of mind.

Elements: Air, Water & Fire.

If you'd like to know more about Hasta Mudras you can read my introduction to the topic here and find all previous Mudra Monday blogs here.

Illustration © estudio mosa 2019

Mudra Monday: Jalodar Nashak Mudra

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The name of this mudra is made up of three separate words: jal meaning 'water,' udar meaning 'stomach' and nashak meaning 'to finish'

Jalodar Nashak mudra is a yogic hand gesture thought to have a healing effect on its practitioner by promoting the balance of water within the body.

By controlling any excess of water, this mudra is credited with reducing swelling throughout the body, bringing relief to menstrual cramps, restoring skins moisture and treating excessive salivation or urination, a runny nose and watery eyes.

To perform this mudra, the tip of the pinky finger bends down towards the base of the thumb. The thumb then lightly presses the small finger down towards the palm of the hand. The remaining three fingers should be extended yet relaxed. In this constellation, the small finger represent the water element.

Elements: Water.

If you'd like to know more about Hasta Mudras you can read my introduction to the topic here and find all previous Mudra Monday blogposts here.

Illustration © estudio mosa 2018

Mudra Monday: Brahma Mudra

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Brahma is one of the three gods of the Hindu trinity that is responsible for the creation, preservation and destruction of the world.  Brahma has four heads and is able to see everywhere at the once. The word itself translates from Sanskrit as 'divine,' 'sacred' or 'Supreme Spirit.'

Brahma Mudra is a hand gesture used across yoga asana, meditation and pranayama practice. Sometimes also referred to as 'the gesture of all-pervading consciousness,' Brahma mudra helps to promote a complete breath during pranayama breathing practices and affects the flow of pranic energy (life force) around the body, calming the mind and energising the body.

Brahma mudra is best practiced in a comfortable seated position, such as vajrasana or padmasana. Both hands form fists with the fingers wrapped around the thumbs and the palms facing up. The knuckles of both hands are then pressed together with the hands gently resting against the pubic bone. Yogis who are kapha dosha dominant should only practice this mudra for a limited length of time.

Actively applying pressure to both the knuckles and the pubic bone helps to lift the chest, lengthens the upper body and strengthens the neck muscles, which allows the lungs to expand more fully as we engage in conscious breathing during pranayama practice. Additionally, this mudra is thought to enable practitioners to reach a higher meditative state wherein negative energy is lifted and a deeper level of focus can be reached.

Elements: All.

If you'd like to know more about Hasta Mudras you can read my introduction to the topic here and find all previous Mudra Monday blogs here.

Illustration © estudio mosa 2018