This Sunday is an important day for yogis: not only is it the Summer Solstice, a day to salute the sun in celebration of the first day of summer and the longest day of the year, it’s also the first International Day of Yoga. (Not to mention, you may want to dedicate your practice to Dad—it’s Father’s Day, too!)
“Create time to come together in family and community on June 21, and be aware of all of the people around the world that are aligning with this oldest of natural phenomena — the peak of light in our journey when we are closest to the sun — that has been occurring for over 4.6 billion years,” says Vinyasa pioneer Shiva Rea. “From Stonehenge to Delphi, people are gathering to the sacred sites that are aligned with the peak of light for the natural celebration, awakening, and shift of consciousness that happens in a more accelerated way on the natural sacred juncture of the Solstice.”
Rea says the following 5 hand mudras, or gestures of awakening, can help you celebrate the Solstice and International Yoga Day by generating your inner experience (or bhava) of the power of your heart consciousness. “Just as we use our hands when we talk to express what we are feeling or communicating, our hands can be ways back into our heart and bring our ‘head’ or thinking mind into a deeper knowing,” she explains.
Experience each of these mudras or a sequence of all of them at the start or end of your emobdied yoga flow or as its own practice.
Also see10 Body Mudras with Shiva Rea
(Text adapted from Rea’s book, Tending the Heart Fire: Living in Flow with the Pulse of Life. Photos by Demetri Velisarius.)
Essence of the Heart” Mudra
This is a simple mudra: Cross your hands over your chest while connecting your thumbs so that your hands rest on your heart region and your fingers extend like “wings of the heart.” It has the same effect as Anjali Mudra (Prayer) but often with the quality of greater grounding and intimacy with the Source within you. The arms crossed around you combine the quality of embracing yourself (sva) with feeling beyond words your own essence (bhava).
Open Hands-Open Heart Mudra
Bring your hands in front of you, palms facing up. Feel the very center of your palms, referred to as tala hridaya, as a place of great receptivity. Feel your hands like two open vessels, emptying the mind of static. You can stay here or turn your hands down to the Earth, emptying the outer mind of static. As you go into the feeling state of the Hasta (hand) Mudra, you will begin to feel yourself shift into listening to your heart center. This is a wonderful way to energize your whole being. Meditate on being open from your center (which you cultivated in SvaBhava Mudra). Connect your brain to your heart by opening your inner gaze and feeling the inward flowing drishti from your heart to your hands. Meditate on the inherent inner qualities of openness, generosity, and joy connected to solar energy.
Heart Consciousness Mudra
With each hand create the same mudra: coil your index finger to the base of your thumb while connecting your thumb to the tips of your middle and ring finger. Now extend your little finger and feel the calming, heart-generating bhava as you move your hands to rest upon your thighs.
Hridaya Padma Mudra
Heart Lotus Mudra
To practice Hridaya Padma Mudra, bring your hands to your heart in the shape of a lotus bud. Experience the generation of bhava—regenerative emotions such as compassion and gratitude—like fragrance rising from a lotus bud. With each inhale you offer to your Heart Fire, silently repeat the quality that is arising: shanti (peace), prema (love), santosha (contentment). As you rest in these healing qualities, offer up any dissonant thought waves, subconsciously held tensions, or contracted emotions into the fire of your heart. Make a final prayer or dedication, then bring your hands gently overhead and let them move down your body in a cascade of renewal.
Surya Prana Mudra
Vital Energy Mudra
To practice the radiant Surya Prana Mudra, extend your arms from the heart to the level of the eyes and ears with your palms facing inward as if to form a chalice for receiving energy. At the same time, radiate energy from your heart, just as the sun simultaneously draws energy in to then create its omnidirectional rays. Feel the empowering qualities that the solar current activates within your heart. This mudra is a healing tonic for any weak fire or contracted emotional state.