Before really getting into yoga, the holidays were always a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, I was super stoked for the snow, the time off of school, the special foods, seeing family, getting presents – all the good stuff. On the other hand, I was worried about the stress, the emotional highs (and lows) and the responsibility of keeping the Christmas Spirit at 100% even through experiences that were stressful or upsetting.
Face it, as awesome as they are, there’s so much to stress us out around the holidays. This could be anything from a relative that pushes buttons, to the stress of a company party, to faking a cheerful thank you when you’re not that into the gift, to overdrawing on your account trying to get your kids the gifts they want. And, don’t even get me started on food, exercise and routines getting disrupted.
I love my yoga practice. I turn to it whenever I’m stressed, tired or upset. But a lot of times during the holidays, we lose space to practice. Either we’re traveling and there’s literally no time or room to do a full asana practice, or we just get exponentially busier.
That’s where these mudras come in – they’re like mini-asanas – or as I like to think of them, asanas for the hands. They will help move and restore prana (life energy) in the body but you can do them anytime, anywhere, pretty inconspicuously. If you have the luxury, use them to complement your current practice. I’ll give you specific directions for each one, but generally speaking, you can rock these out while seated in a meditation posture (the most common way to bring mudras into your practice), or while in a balance pose (I like Tree and Warrior III), or during a yin pose like a forward fold or even savasana.
If you’ve lost access to your usual practice, these are a good temporary replacement.
1) Pushan Mudra
Practicing Acceptance at a Crazy Christmas Dinner with ALL the Relatives
This is the mudra of nourishment and digestion. I’ve also heard it called the anger management mudra or the acceptance mudra. This mudra helps you accept and receive what life is offering presently (even if you’re not that into it) with grace and wisdom, and with the other hand (this is an asymmetric mudra) it helps you let things go, like difficult emotions or hurtful encounters.
This mudra also influences the energies of digestion, helping to absorb and utilize food. Did you know many of us have digestive systems that do not fully draw nutrients from our food, no matter how well we might be eating? True story – this mudra will help digest food fully, though.
It also helps relax the digestive organs, and activates energies for detoxification and proper elimination. With all the rich food the holidays usually bring, our digestive systems can get a little overwhelmed and we can begin to feel sluggish, bloated or gassy. This mudra will help with this, as well.
In the right hand, touch the top portion of the thumb with the top portions of the middle and ring fingers.
In the left hand, touch the top portion of the thumb with the top portions of the index and middle fingers and press gently.
Do this for about 5 minutes after a big meal or whenever you want to let go of anger. You can do this sitting, standing or walking. Fun to try in Tree pose as well.
2) Vajrapradama Mudra
Poise and Confidence at Corporate Black Tie Holiday Parties
This is the mudra of unshakable self-trust. Different mudras are connected with different elements and chakras, and this is a mudra for the fourth chakra, the heart chakra. This mudra helps you connect with your true, authentic divine Self, the Self that is real, eternal and full of Divine energy and support.
This is the mudra for unshakable self confidence, personal power and inner strength. Vajra means “thunderbolt” and in Buddhism the thunderbolt represents the ultimate weapon against doubt. There is a deeper Self that is always whole and balanced, ready to meet life’s challenges and Vajrapradama Mudra allows you to connect to that part of you at any moment. A good mantra to accompany this mudra is “I come with peace because I am peace.”
Interlace the fingers in front of the chest with the palms facing toward the heart and thumbs facing upward. Open the hands away from each other creating a gentle stretch to fingers. Rest the hands on the current of energy surrounding the heart.
3) Anjali Mudra
Closing the Chapter on a Fabulous Year with Centered Gratitude
In my opinion, or rather, what works best for me during the holidays are mudras that energize the 3 base chakras (root, sacral and solar plexus) helping to ground and stabilize us and mudras that energize the heart chakra, helping to replenish our generosity and love. Anjali Mudra is a mudra that both stabilizes the lower chakras and opens the heart chakra.
It is a mudra of devotion and offering, of balance and composure, of returning to the heart. It is used when initiating or concluding an action, and connotes gratitude for self and others. This is a very peaceful and safe gesture, and you will often see it come out unconsciously. Use it when giving thanks before a holiday meal, use it as a way to connect with your truth when having difficult conversations, and use it to remember all you have to be grateful for in this beautiful life when it gets a little crazy.
Anjali Mudra is often used alongside the word Namaste in salutations. So this holiday season, use Anjali Mudra to nurture a open and grounded heart, send 2014 out with peace and gratitude and welcome 2015 with hope and love.
Simply bring the hands together at the palms with the fingers reaching upwards. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly. In the most common form of anjali mudra, the hands are held at the heart with thumbs resting lightly against the sternum.
You can do this anywhere, anytime for as long as you need/want. Try it in tadasana, seated meditation or in greeting.
Interested in more Holiday mudras? Check in with my SurfYogi blog over the next few weeks for more mudras that will help support you during the holiday season! 🙂