For Beginners: Anjali Mudra
Now imagine that you are beginning your yoga practice—or any activity in which you want to be centered and conscious of how your inner state will affect the outcome of your experience. Take anjali mudra again, but this time slightly part your palms as if to make a cup, so that your hands resemble the bud of a lotus flower. Depending on your spiritual orientation, you can metaphorically plant a seed prayer, affirmation, or quality such as "peace," "clarity," or "vitality" within your anjali mudra. Drop your chin towards your chest and awaken a sense of humility and awe with which to begin your practice, as if waiting to receive a blessing of good things to come. It is important that this anjali or offering be true to your Self as that will be the most effective and uplifting for you. Traditionally, yogis might visualize their ishta devata or personal connection to God within the shrine of their hands. For some people this may be a sacred mountain, for others, Jesus, Krishna, or the Mother Goddess. Align your mind (awareness), feeling (heart), and actions (body) within this gesture. When you feel your invocation is complete, draw your fingertips to the center of your forehead, ajna chakra, and pause there feeling the calming effect of your touch. Bring your hands back to your center to ground your intention within your heart.
From here you can begin your yoga asanas, meditation, or any activity from a place of connectedness. Notice how much easier it is to be present and joyous with whatever you are doing. Look for other times to integrate anjali mudra into your practice and life. Besides the beginning and end of your yoga sessions, anjali mudra can be used within the Sun Salutations and many other asanas as a way to come back to and maintain your center. When your hands come together overhead in Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) or in Tree Pose, this is still anjali mudra. Consciously connecting this upward movement of your hands through an invisible line of energy to your heart will help your posture and your inner attitude.
In daily life, this prayerful gesture can be used as a way of bridging inner and outer experience, when saying grace before meals, communicating our truth within a relationship, or as a means of cooling the fires of stress when feeling rushed or reactionary. Anjali mudra is an age-old means of helping human beings to remember the gift of life and to use it wisely.
Shiva Rea teaches flow (vinyasa) based yoga integrating alignment and intuition, strength and fluidity, meditation and wisdom in action at Yoga Works in Santa Monica, California, and UCLA's World Arts and Cultures Program. She is the author of the home practice CD, Yoga Sanctuary (Sounds True), and leads workshops and adventure retreats worldwide. She can be contacted through www.yogadventures.com.
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