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INTENTION SETTING & MUDRAS

INTENTION SETTING

Intention-Setting

Intention setting is a powerful practice. We do not just set intentions in a yoga class environment, it can be done any time. We set our intentions to cultivate and amplify a certain quality in ourselves, something we feel we need to work on. Intentions should be clear, pure and come from the heart. (You can also dedicate your practice to something or someone)

Usually you would do it at the beginning of a yoga practice and would come back to it throughout the practice and during the relaxation (Savasana).

Intentions that we set should be positive affirmations set in a present tense. For example, you can say ‘I am grateful’ if you would like to cultivate the quality of gratitude, or ‘I am love’ if you would like to cultivate self love or love towards other people. By saying ‘I am not angry’ you bring the negative ‘not’ into your intention, but we can change it to ‘I am at peace with myself’ or ‘I am calm’, ‘I am aware’. 

If you are struggling to find the right intention you can always have a gratitude practice instead. The easiest way to incorporate it into your life is to either think or say aloud 10 things you are grateful for and the reason why. There’s always something to be grateful for :))

MUDRAS

Yoga-Mudras-And-Significance

Mudra is translated as a seal or a lock. Some mudras involve the entire body, but most of them are hand and finger gestures only. 

These are used in meditation and in everyday life to channel the energy within our body. Hands are closely connected to the brain. When we use mudras different areas of the brain get stimulated, thus creating specific energy flow. 

Each of the five fingers represents one of the five elements as well as certain body parts and organs. Mudras are creating the balance between the elements when those are unbalanced and are also balancing our health.

IMG_7527

Thumb – digestion

Index finger – breath (respiratory system)

Ring finger – bones, skin

Middle finger – thoughts

Little finger – blood 

Mudras work on similar principals of acupuncture and reflexology. We are redirecting the energy flow within our bodies by performing various hand and finger gestures. 

We perform mudras in our every day life without even realising that what we are doing is mudras. For example, you can catch yourself doing the Hakini Mudra when you are thinking deep about something or concentrating. 

Hakini Mudra

Thumb sucking with other fingers rolled in is Mudra – helps to soothe and calm down. 

There are 108 hand mudras, but the most common ones are 

  • CHIN MUDRA – (tips of thumb and index fingers touching) – it is a Mudra of knowledge. It improves your focus, memory, helps with anxiety, stress and is performed for a better insight into your life or specific issue. It calms the mind and brings a more receptive state with it. Thumb represents universal consciousness and index finger – individual. When they are connected – you are connecting the individual self with the high self.

chin mudra

  • BHAIRAVA MUDRA ( resting palm in palm with right one on top). This is a Mudra of healing, harmony, concentration and balance. It restores balance between feminine and masculine, Ida and Pingala; between physical and spiritual.

BHAIRAVA MUDRA

  • ANJALI MUDRA (palm to palm). This is the most familiar Mudra. It symbolises gratitude, respect and honour. We use it as a Namaste gesture in a Yoga class. 

ANJALI MUDRA

If you would like to be more receptive and open keep your palms facing up, when you wish to be more grounded keep them facing down. 

There are many other fascinating mudras and there is loads of information available on the subject online and in books. Next time you do a gesture with your hands look the gesture up and you will be surprised to discover that you have probably just done a Mudra. 

Have a lovely week everyone full of positive affirmations!

Natallia

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Yoga Philosophy. 8 Limbs of Yoga

We have recently introduced Yoga Philosophy into our weekly classes and workshops.

The main point of introducing the theory into our Yoga Practice is to help you understand that Yoga is not just what you do on the mat, it is a much broader notion. I would also like you to learn a little bit more about the main pillars Yoga is based on and to be able to make your practice more mindful.

In the last 2 weeks we have been talking about 8 Limbs of Yoga. This term comes from a book Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Each limb serves as a guidance of how to live a more disciplined, more mindful life. You can picture it as a tree with 8 big branches and smaller branches coming out of the big ones.

According to Patanjali, you can become one with the higher self, reach the enlightenment or simply liberation, when following this eight-fold path. These principals serve as a guide for living a purposeful, meaningful life.

The principals are all described from external to internal. The first four serve as a foundation fir the last 4 limbs.

You do not need to learn them all by heart. Understanding how they work is the most important thing.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga are:

  1. Yamas
  2. Niyamas
  3. Asana
  4. Pranayama
  5. Pratyahara
  6. Dharana
  7. Dhyana
  8. Samadhi

1. YAMAS are the ethical, moral and spiritual standards. It is how we perceive people and things. There are 5 Yamas:
Ahimsa – non violence (no harming ourselves or other living beings bot( physically and verbally);

Satya – truthfulness (speaking the truth);

Asteya – no stealing (things, time, energy, attention; cultivating abundance within ourselves, being grateful for the things we have);

Brahmacharya – control (celibacy, control of how we use our sexual and sensual energy);

Aparigraha – non-coveting (not holding to material things, ideas and concepts; feeling the freedom to go with the flow)

2. NIYAMAS are the ethical, moral and spiritual standards we place on ourselves:

Sauca – purity and cleanliness of speech, mind, body and actions ( daily shower, clean eating, cleansing the mind from negativity);

Santosa – contentment (finding happiness within you, being grateful for what you have);

Tapas – persistence, austerity (being disciplined in order to achieve your goals);

Svādhyāya– self-study, self-reflection ; Isvarapranidhana – surrender to a high power ( make choices that are good for all).

3. ASANA – physical practice. Here the term asana refers to being able to sit comfortably for meditation.

4. PRANAYAMA – breath work, breathing techniques.

5. PRATYAHARA– withdrawal. It is the withdrawal of ourselves from any external noise so that we can be present and mindful of the sounds within. We can practice it by taking a break from the media, or choosing to only concentrate on sounds in Shavasana. It is there to teach us to withdraw from the outside noise, draw the energy in and concentrate on pranayama and on the yoga practice with no distractions from the outside world.

6. DHARANA – is about concentrating on a single point. It can be something internal or external. It teaches us to quieten the mind. It can be a candle gazing practice for example or breath awareness. This is the stage most of us are at when we think we are meditating, especially at the beginning of a yoga practice.

7. DHYANA- concentration and meditation on a single fixed point. It takes time and practice. We need to learn to train our mind to empty itself from all the thoughts and then to come back to you. This is a long process and once it is perfected it leads to the 8th limb of Yoga – Samadhi.

8. SAMADHI – reaching the ultimate goal of yoga and becoming one with the higher self, reaching the enlightenment. This is the stage where we can view our life as being not conditioned by the believes of others, likes or dislikes, no judgement or attachment.
In a nutshell, it all comes down to be a ‘good’ person with pure intentions following the basic ethical and moral principles. The last 3 limbs are pure internal and that’s what we need to work and strive for in our practice: to be able to isolate the external noise and to focus or meditate on one single point of concentration. A good way to start is to apply this principle in your daily life: focus on a single task; when out for a meal being present and give your full attention to a person you are with and not to an electronic devise; mindfully do your shopping by focusing only on the stuff you need.

If you are interested in the topic – there’s loads of information available online. I do think it is a good piece of information to have for your general knowledge as well.

Next two weeks we are talking about Mudras and Intention Setting. We will be going back to the 8 Limbs of Yoga now and then to discuss them in a bit more detail.