Come together for 10 days of asana and eco-friendly intention inspired by the Earth and her elements. Join @shivarea108 and @yogajournal, using #YJEarthDayChallenge.
Prana Vinyasa founder Shiva Rea has an Earth Day challenge for you: For the next 10 days, April 16th through April 25th, Rea will offer you one of 10 body mudras that honor the Earth, water, fire (energy), air, and sacred space, as well as a daily eco-friendly action to create positive changes through our "Earth body."
"When you start to waste/pollute less, spend more time in natural light, and shift toward locally grown foods with an emphasis on an organic, primarily vegetarian diet, you are making such a positive shift for the Earth by your simple lifestyle actions," Rea says. "I think yoga naturally starts to connect us to all the elements in our body. There is a direct connection to our body, our home, how we care for our resources. It's about shifting our awareness through our actual experience of nature in our body, an elemental understanding of how an embodied practice like an asana/body mudra can help us wake up and take positive action."
"Our aim is to activate our instinctual connection to the Earth, embodying nature, and to awaken a call to positive action to honor, protect, and conserve the Earth's resources, generating energy in our bodies, greening our home/workplace, and giving solar lanterns locally and globally to those that need light for health, education, and empowerment," says Rea.
Each of the following body mudras has inner qualities, or "bhava," to help you connect to the Earth. Practice one per day for 10 days or perform the entire sequence as a flow honoring the elements.
1. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) with Ganesha Mudra
Reflection and Dedication
HOW TO Begin by opening your hips to connect to the Earth, knees wide, big toes touching behind you. Bring your hands to your heart center with your right palm facing you, your left palm facing out, fingers clasping each other, and elbows extending out to the sides (Ganesha Mudra). Relax and feel your breath slowing down. Feel your roots connected to the center of the Earth as you grow through your spine. Note: If this is tough on your hips or knees, place a block or blanket below you to help lift your hips.
BHAVA Listen as you enter this process of embodying nature and awakening to the ways in which you can honor nature, be more vital, and be more connected to the Earth, water, fire (energy), air, and space. Experience how having your open hips upon the Earth awakens your inherent bond, and how Ganesha Mudra creates an activation inside as you begin a journey.
ECO-ACTION Let’s approach Earth Day as a time for a spring reawakening and cleaning. Where have you become unconscious? How can we stop the cycles of unnecessary waste in our homes and workplaces and lighten our Earth impact and our carbon footprint?
HOW TO From Vajrasana, move slowly with your breath and exhale as you hinge at your hips, bringing your forehead toward the Earth. Bring your hands over your head into Pranam Mudra (Anjali Mudra), bowing (nam) to the life-force (pra). Listen and connect to the Earth through your body. Relax your frontal brain as it touches the Earth and shift from thinking mind to receptive mind, allowing a natural connection to arise to our living Earth. Now continue in a flow, coming up and drawing your arms overhead, hands together, back to the first body mudra, Vajrasana. Exhale, bow to the Earth, bringing your open hips, belly, heart, and head over your crown in Earth alignment. Be in this Pranam Mudra Vinyasa flow for 1-108 rounds! See video here.
BHAVA This universal form of prostration connects your whole body to the Earth. As your hand, forehead, heart, and hips connect to the Earth, there’s a profound relaxation and connection, a feeling of coming home, a surrendering of modern tensions and stress and coming back to the Earth.
ECO-ACTION Go meatless! Enjoying a vegetarian (or vegan) diet and eating locally produced, organic foods as much as possible is one of the most direct ways we can reduce our carbon footprint and water use, breathe fresh air, and increase our vitality.
HOW TO From Pranam Mudra, slide forward and inhale up into Cobra Pose. Extend your body in a wave shape from your toes through your spine, stretching back through your inner legs with your spine rising, coiling, and cresting through the crown of your head. Feel like a wave rising and coiling, similar to the fluid movement of a cobra. Honor your body’s fluid intelligence, extending only as high as it feels good with your heart rising. As you exhale, pull back to Pranam Mudra (Child's Pose) with knees wide. Enjoy this flow for 1-5 rounds. See video here.
BHAVA Fluid, supple, continuous flow liberates old ways of being while creating new pathways for flow. When we move like water, we remember our primarily fluid body and honor this precious resource.
ECO-ACTION Honor water. How much water can you save in your home during this challenge? Suggestions: Take shorter showers (every minute saves 7–10 gallons), or save the water when you cook meals or wash dishes and reuse it to water your plants/garden.
HOW TO Start standing on your knees, hip-width apart, activating your core by creating a staff or danda in a diagonal line from your knees to your crown. Lengthen your tailbone to your knees and feel the activation of your fire through your core connection. Clasp your hands in front of your heart or navel center for Sankalpa Mudra. Inhale, lengthen your spine, feeling your core power. Exhale, shift back again for a steady activation, channeling your inner energy and fire. Keep this rhythmic vinyasa with your breath and steady awareness as a way to channel your inner fire and tap into renewable energy. See video here.
BHAVA Sankalpa Mudra is a mudra of commitment that connects you to your authentic self. When you bring your hands together in front of your navel, you access the power of your core energy. As you combine the hand mudra with Danda Vinyasa, you are literally ignited as your inner heat activates, connecting to your inner reservoirs of energy. This may get you thinking about solar power, how we have yet to tap into this renewable energy.
ECO-ACTION One day of sunlight is enough to power all our energy needs for 27 years! Consider installing solar water heaters in your home/business, using solar lantern lamps that can charge your phone and other gadgets, and/or driving an electric car and charging it by a solar-powered home. Solar power is abundant!
HOW TO In this Ustrasana variation, extend one arm overhead and keep one hand at your heart or sacrum. From your knees, bring your hands to your low back with fingers facing up or down, whatever is within your practice. Inhale and grow tall through your spine. Exhale, press your hips forward as you begin to bend back toward your feet. Keep a lift in your chest, avoiding dumping into your low back. If you feel that you can go deeper, release your right arm and reach back behind you. Move slowly as you come out of this pose, and only when you’re ready move to the other side. See video here.
BHAVA Honor the air element within each breath as you raise your arm in Moksha (liberation) Mudra, opening the heart and lungs. Honor the power and mystery of the one breath we all share as the molecules of all beings are contained in each inhale. Feel your breath as awareness. Wake up through this whole body mudra. Rise up through your raised arm.
ECO-ACTION How would it feel to be carbon neutral for a day during this challenge? Create your own energy sabbath by walking or cycling to care for the air you breathe. Or, offset your carbon footprint by supporting renewable energy projects or organizations like Global Green or Nature Conservancy.
HOW TO Step your right foot into a lunge with your knee over your ankle (choose from Warrior I or Low Lunge). Inhale, rise up, and activate Uddiyana Bandha, lifting in a wave motion from your front heel up your spine. Come into Garuda Mudra with your arms (Eagle Arms): Inhale, lift your right arm up. Exhale, wrap the left arm under to hook at the elbows. As you inhale, elongate your spine as you lift your arms into space. As you exhale, pour your spine into a backbend with your heart as a mirror to the space above. If you are outside, inhale the open sky. Now, in a rhythmic prana vinyasa, inhale and bring your spine to center, then exhale. Create a wave shape in the backbend with the spine rising from the back of the heart and the energy in the chest expanding like the sun. Draw your Garuda Mudra arms up toward your eyes as you fly back across the sky from your rooted base. Inhale, come up to elongate the spine, and flow back for 1-3 rounds, experiencing a greater connection to the space element. See video here.
BHAVA Open to that which is larger than ourselves, the big picture. Like a Garuda (eagle), see everything from an expansive vision, from a deeper perspective, from a sacred space.
ECO-ACTION Honor sacred space above and below. Learn about the importance of dark skies for the Earth’s creatures and for our own wonder of the cosmos during this international year of the light. Honor below by skipping the landfill. Challenge yourself to waste less today. Try a day, week, month, or year without plastics and/or bring reusable mugs, bottles, and utensils from home instead of using disposable plastic versions. Dare to use less packaging at the store. Carry your own bag with humor and style.
HOW TO From standing, root down and connect to the Earth through your right leg. Feel the energy rising as you bend your left leg and reach back for the outside of your foot with either one hand or both, keeping your hips parallel to the Earth. Stay here and find balance as you center yourself within the flow of your breath. To go deeper still, press your hands into your foot as you anchor your hips evenly and rise through your heart like the sun. You become a bow: your body as the instrument, your consciousness as the arrow. See video here.
BHAVA Take a stand for the Earth, realizing your potential. This whole body mudra opens your heart fully and engages your presence in your connection to the Earth at this moment. On this day, millions of people around the world are connecting to our one Earth, one sky, one breath, and the abundance of renewable energy that we live within that will be our energy future.
ECO-ACTION In honor of Earth Day, what environmental issue is your passion? Do something today to bring awareness to your local issue or to give some love back to Mother Earth.
HOW TO Come to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet together. Step your left foot behind your right foot, tucking your left knee behind your right knee and rising to the ball of your back foot. Inhale, lift your left arm and extend your spine, broadening across your sacrum. As you exhale, twist, drawing your left arm across your body, left elbow to right thigh, and pressing your hands together in Prayer. As you press down, let the twist spiral around your body from your core as the energy rises to open your heart. As you inhale, create Prana Mudra by making a peace sign with fingers together with both hands. Keep your left hand in Prana Mudra at your heart and extend your right arm up, reaching toward the sky, radiating your Prana Mudra like an arrow of consciousness or a ray of the inner sun. See video here.
BHAVA Twists activate the inner fire in the core, connecting our personal energy to collective energy. Within this powerful whole body mudra, feel your vital energy activated like an arrow of consciousness imbued in your Prana Mudra hands. Feel the fire of your intention igniting, the clarifying of your awareness, and the awakening of your vision.
ECO-ACTION Be a light. Try to only use natural light throughout the day, solar lanterns, or non-polluting soy or beeswax candles. Unplug. Visit yogaenergyactivism.com for more ways to unplug, save energy, and enjoy nature.
HOW TO Take your feet wide, three feet apart. Fold over with knees slightly bent and toes turned out slightly. Relax your spine as your shift your weight from side to side like seaweed in the ocean. Slowly rise and feel the spontaneous flow guiding you as you move through your whole body. Feel the tidal pull and allow your upper body to move like the currents of the ocean or the coursing of a river. Rather than "holding" a body mudra, you are in the sahaja or natural flow. Feel your connection to the flow that pours through you as your own primarily fluid body. Meditate on the power and preciousness of water. See video here.
BHAVA Flow from the inner current of your breath as you embody the tidal flow or the fluids of life in roughly the same ratio as the Earth. Feel the power of water that simultaneously releases and purifies as you let go of tensions, disconnections, and old ways of being and open up to new pathways of flow.
ECO-ACTION Connect to the health of your local bodies of water. Actively participate in a water cleanup at a beach, lake, river, or watershed. Say no to plastic as 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the sea every year, equal to five grocery bags per every foot of coastline around the globe. Help turn the tide.
HOW TO Open now to this last body mudra. Come into a standing squat by stepping your feet three feet apart. Turn your toes out and lower your hips slowly with your knees over your heels. Only lower as far as it feels good. Press down through your heels and feel the energy rise through your open hips to your pelvic floor. Anchor your tailbone toward the Earth as your pubic bone releases back. As you inhale, draw your hands up the center, lifting your spine and passing through Jaya (victory) Mudra with your arms overhead. Radiate your arms now from your heart into a second variation of Prana Mudra: As you open your arms level with your eyes and ears, feel your heart, your inner sun. Reconnect with your breath, inhaling our interconnectedness, the one breath that breathes us all. See video here.
BHAVA The feeling here in this whole body mudra is like that of the sun—full radiance from the inside out. Realize the capacity that you and each one of us has to be interconnected with our Earth body. Thank yourself for being part of this journey. The Buddha’s last teachings were "be a light," or appa deepo bhava. Be a light onto the world.
ECO-ACTION Empowerment! Draw from your experience; reflect again on what has shifted for you in the last 10 days, and now be empowered to move the way you want to live and put what you care about into reality. From these eco-actions, what are five ways you want to continue to embody a greater connection to our earth, water, air, fire (energy), and sacred space—in body and in life? Post your inspiration. Walk your talk. Stay involved at local, state, national, and global levels. Let us #flowforchange together.