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Pranayama

Book Review: Mudras – Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi

January, 2018

MUDRAS – YOGA IN YOUR HANDS

BY GERTRUD HIRSCHI

Personally, I love mudras; they are such a simple way to heal, both physically and emotionally. The mudra book that I currently own is in pieces, and so this one coming to me is doubly welcome.

Part I explores the “concept” of mudra, which, simply put, is yoga for your hands. Ms. Herschi introduces the mudra, its’ possible origins and how and when to practice them. This includes how the hands themselves correspond to the chakras (energy centers in the body), Ayurveda (the Indian art of healing through food, acupressure, reflexology using the hands instead of the feet and meridians (energy paths).

Part II, which is the bulk of the book, introduces the mudras themselves. The author describes how to hold the hands for each mudra, the issue for which the mudra is being used, how to use the mudra in combination with pranayama (breathwork), asana (posture), plus movement. Each mudra also lists an herbal remedy that can be used for the specific issue being worked on, as well as an affirmation. There are 52 different mudras presented within the book.

There is a short section toward the back of the book which describes different mudras that can be specifically used in easy pose (cross-legged seating) and some that can be used with specific movements.

(Note: My own training would posit that there are many more of these seated and moving mudras than are listed in the book.)

The book closes with several appendices, as follows: Nutrition, Herbs, Chinese Five Element Theory (wood, fire, earth, mental, water), and very basic Chakra information.

If you are looking for an easy way to begin healing or to add meditation to your daily life, this book would be a great way to go about doing so. I can easily see myself reaching for this book when looking for something specific.

Recommended.

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About the Author

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with PaganPages.org Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at https://mysticalshores.wordpress.com/ and her email is [email protected]

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A Moment for Meditation

December, 2014

meditation

 

Pranayama – Breath

 

I hope that you have been practicing the simple breath meditation I spoke of in last month’s column.

This month, I would like to continue talking about conscious breathing, also called Pranayama.
The inhale, what you bring in, is called prana; the exhale, or what you put out, is called apana.

I’m sure it sounds strange to say that I want to teach you how to breathe. We all breathe everyday, constantly, all day. It’s what we do. But, we are not consciously breathing.

Think about how you breath in different situations – when you are exercising, when you are thinking over a problem, when you are at work, when you are angry, sad, upset. On each of these occasions, your breath comes differently, and, most likely, without any conscious thought at all.

The world has become a crazy place and the pace we are expected to keep goes beyond any reasonable sense of normalcy. People are rushing from the minute they get up to the minute they lie down to sleep. We are not acting – we are reacting to any number of things simultaneously. Look around. Everyone has a phone in their hand, afraid they are going to miss something. In my own opinion, this is a world gone wrong. We should be slowing down, trying to appreciate each other, in person not on a device; walk in the beautiful world, enjoy what is out there and what we each have.

In addition, we have already entered the craziest part of the year – holiday after holiday after holiday. As if the world wasn’t rushed enough, it now goes into overdrive. Believe me, I know from first hand experience that conscious breathing will help get you through it.

The breath is a fundamental tool in being able to control your emotions and your mood. It can give you clarity of thought; increase focus; increase your patience (and who doesn’t need that?); reduce and prevent toxins in your body that we are continuously bringing in via food, drink and air. It does this while also expanding your lung capacity; cleansing your blood and relaxing and calming you. Just a slight change in the breath creates a huge impact. Amazing, yes?

With that being said, I am going to describe a few different breathing techniques. As you do each other, please be aware of how each one makes you feel. Do you notice any change? Physically? Emotionally? Mentally?

U Breathing – Block the right nostril, inhale through the left nostril; block the left nostril, exhale out the right nostril, inhale through the right nostril, block the right nostril, exhale out the left nostril, inhale through the left nostril and continue. This is a purifying breath. As you are breathing, try to follow the path the breath is taking and visualize a pure light flowing down the same side of your body as the breath

For Calmness – Inhale for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 8. This is a good breath to practice when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Produces a clam and relaxed state of being.

Sitali Pranayam – Open your mouth in a circle, curl your tongue and inhale through the mouth, through the tongue and exhale through the nose. This is a calming breath. It is also a cooling breath, lovely to do in the summer or when you have a fever. I have taught this breath to several sick children through the years to help with their high temps.

For Relaxation – Breathe only through your left nostril. The left side of your body relates to the moon, which is the calming and receptive side of your body.

For Energy and Increased Focus – Breathe only through your right nostril, as the right side of your body relates to the energy of the sun

Abdominal Breathing – For this one, you should be lying down on your back. Place your hands on your abdomen, below the navel. Begin the long deep breathing from the last column. On the inhale, the breath should push the abdomen gently against your hands and on the exhale, the abdomen gently goes down, as do the hands. This helps to open up your 3rd chakra (energy center), works on digestion, eating problems, enhances your creative energy and will help you to feel both relaxed and energized.
I hope that you will try some or all of these breaths of the next month. As always, if you have any questions, or are looking for a breath meditation for a particular problem, please feel free to email me at [email protected]
Blessings