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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Prana Mudra - Mudra of Life

Aloha Everyone,

The Prana Mudra is the mudra of life.

Category -  Kaya (postural mudra).

Position -   Bend pinky and ring finger and join them to the tip of the thumb.  Maintain constant contact of these three fingers while the index and middle fingers are stretched and extended.  Position of the hands may be kept in vertical or horizontal position based on the meditation technique you are using. Instant effect of the prana mudra is felt in the form of energetic vibrations..

Specialty - This mudra increases the power of life, vitality, strength and energy

Benefits – recommended for over all good health. Improves immune system, invigorates the defense mechanism of the body.  Regular practice is found to also be quite effective in the improvement of the power of eyes and also reduces fatigue.

Namaste -- Cathi

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cosmic Mudra - Mudra for Zen Meditation and Concentration

Aloha Everyone,

The Cosmic Mudra is the mudra for zen meditation and concentration.

Category -  Hasta Mudras (Hand mudras)

Position – Seated meditation posture on the floor in lotus pose, half-lotus, easy pose or seated in a chair with your legs about shoulder width, feet rested flat on the ground.  Turn your right hand palm up and place it in front of the abdomen on your lower dantien (about 2 - 3 inches below your nave) this is the source of our chi.  Gently rest your left hand palms facing up on top of your right hand.  Lightly touch the tips of your thumb together and your hands and thumbs should have formed an oval shape, representation of a cosmic bowl.

Specialty – .helps our life energy “chi” to become stronger and balanced.   Help you move to the world of emptiness.  This mudra, also known as Dhyani Mudra and Samadhi Mudra is associated with Zen meditation and helpful in preparing your mind for a meditative state.

Benefits – promotes the energy of meditation, deep contemplation and unity with higher energy.

Namaste -- Cathi

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gyan Mudra - Mudra of Knowledge

Aloha Everyone,

Gyan Mudra is the Mudra of Knowledge.

Category - Haste Mudras (Hand mudras)

Position - Two fingers are used in this mudra.  Bend the index finger and gently touch its tip to the top of the thumb. The other three fingers are in a straight position. If in a seated body position, the hands come to rest on your knees elbows slightly bent and the palms of each hands are pointing up. This mudra may be used while lying on the bed with one or both hands maintaining this gesture.

Specialty - This mudra enhances the knowledge, mental capabilities.  The gesture also helps the mind go inward for meditation as it raises the level of the element vayu or air in the body

Benefits – Helps your mind to go inward; helps bestow wisdom and insight; increases memory power; sharpens the brain; concentration and thinking process; Gyan Mudra also prevents insomnia; and also helps fight anger, idleness, laziness and depression.

Namaste -- Cathi

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Namaste Mudra - Mudra of Meditation

Aloha Everyone,

The Namaste Mudra is also known as Namaskara, or Anjali Mudra

This is the mudra we usually use to begin and end our Kundalini Yoga and meditation class.  It is the hand gesture that evokes greeting another being with the utmost respect and adoration for the Divine in all. The greeting is expressed in a form of prayer coming from one's heart or the third eye.

Category -  Haste Mudras (Hand mudras)

Position -   Sit up nice and tall, elongate your spine, legs crossed (easy pose), the knees to touch the floor if possible, or if seated in the chair, your feet are flat on the floor, legs shoulder width.  Bring hands together at the heart level palms slightly pressed, elbows lifted, thumb tips touching the center of your chest and eyes are closed

Specialty - Helps mind to calm down, become aware of your breath in preparation for meditation practice and help you tune-in and become mindful.

Benefits - promotes humility and sense of respect; and balances the two hemispheres of the brain

Namaste -- Cathi

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mudra - Science of Gestures in Yoga

Aloha Everyone,

Mudra is a bodily posture or a symbolic gesture and literal translation of Sanskrit word means “seal of authenticity” Sometime referred to as hand yoga, they are usually the fingers, hands, arm and eye positions but some mudras involve the entire body.  Choice of mudra by yoga and meditation teachers depends on the desired outcome of one’s practice.  Different mudras are used to stimulate the mind, parts of the body or to affect the flow of prana (life-force) in the body to create certain states of consciousness.  Some of these mudras may also be known by more than one name.
There are four basic categories:

  1. Hasta (hand mudras) - conducive for meditation, and help mind to go inward, generally work by preventing the dissipation of prana (life-force) from the fingertips
Examples:  Gyan Mudra, Vayu Mudra, Cosmic Mudra, Surya Mudra

     2.  Mana (head mudras) - an important part of Kundalini yoga
Examples:  Shambhavi Mudra (Gazing up at the 3rd eye),  Nasikagra Drishti, (Gazing at the tip of your nose), Bhuangini Mudra (Cobra respiration)

  1. Kaya (postural mudras) - combine physical postures with pranayama (breathing) and concentration.
Examples: Prana Mudra, Vipareeta Karani Mudra (Inverted psychic attitude)

  1. Bandha (lock mudras) combine hand mudra and bandha (body lock),       
Examples:  Mula Bandha (Root Lock). Uddiyana Banda (Diaphragm lock),
Jalandhara Bandha (Neck Lock or Chin Lock), Maha Banda (Triple Lock)

There are over 200 mudras in bharatanatyam and over 250 in mohiniattam.  However in Kundalini Yoga and meditation practices, typically108 mudras are used. 

The effects of a mudra are evident if it is practiced with both the hands.  Suggested time duration depends anywhere from 1 to 45 minutes on a daily or twice-a-day basis. Regular practice of these mudras will provide you wonderful physical, mental and spiritual benefits.
Please remember that one does not usually practice mudras while doing walking meditation.

Namaste – Cathi

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Long Time Sun Lyrics

Aloha Everyone,

In Kundalini Yoga class, we usually close our group practice by singing this song.

Here are the lyrics:

May the long time sun, shine upon you,
All love, surround you,
And the pure light, within you,
Guide your way on,
Guide your way on,

May the long time sun, shine upon you
All love, surround you
And the pure light, within you,
Guide your way on,
Guide your way on,

May the long time sun, shine upon you,
All love, surround you
And the pure light, within you,
Guide your way on,
Guide your way on,
Guide your way on,

This text is traced back to the middle ages in Ireland.  The chant was used as a sending off blessing for people, who embarked on a long journey.

Sat Nam - Cathi

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Deep Listening and Total Listening

Aloha - Everyone

Benefit from Deep Listening or Total Listening in your meditation and daily living.

These are skills any of us can learn regardless of your age, intellect or life experiences.  Historically, Buddhists, Quakers and psychotherapists have been practicing some forms of deep listening, compassionate listening or total listening.  This kind of listening requires that we put aside our judgments and listen from an open heart. Don't be so eager to fill the sound of silence.  Try to bring Deep Listening and Total Listening in our daily practice and live.a joyful and compassionate life. 


"Deep Listening is the kind o listening that can help relive the suffering from the person.  You can call it compassionate listening.  You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart and if you remember that you are helping him or her to suffer less and then even if he says things full of wrong perception, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continue to listen with compassion.  Because you know that listening like that, with compassion, you give him or her chance to suffer less.  If you want to help him or her to correct his perception, then you wait for another time.  But for the time being, you just listen with compassion and help him or her suffer less.  And one hour like that can bring transformation and healing. "
 - Thick Nhat Hanh

Except from Thich Nhat Hanh's interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He lives in the Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France


You are either listening or talking; it is impossible to do both at the same time.  Here, I don't just mean stopping your external speech, but I mean quieting the inner speech as well.  When you are quiet within, only then can you really listen.  To listen totally, you have to listen with everything you've got. Through such training in mindful silence, all barriers to communications are fully dissolved.  You become effortlessly sensitive to the people around you.  You generate happy harmony in your family and rich success in your business.

From the place of total listening, you might even hear your own body trying to tell you something.  Before coming down with a sickness, the body always gives many warnings.  However, very few of us listen to our bodies' signals, because we are too busily engaged in our inner conversation.  Even when our bodies scream a desperate warning, begging for a rest, we are too busy thinking to hear the S.O.S.  Then we get caner, heart-disease, or some other terminal ailment.  Mediators, on the other hand, learn to listen to their bodies from the place of mindful silence.  They hear the needs of their bodies, like they hear the needs of their families, and end up living long, happy lives with both. Total listening generates insights:  From silence, you get to know the true nature of things.  And the very best insight is realizing life's meaning.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all would put aside for a while every dogma, both religious and personal, and just listen to the throb of life with an alert, silent mind.  Then we would totally listen to the teaching of life.  Life is constantly, patiently, and gently offering us her wisdom, but we are too busy talking to ourselves to ever listen totally.  No wonder so few of us ever understand.

Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond, A Mediators’ Handbook by Ajahn Brahm
Born Peter Betts, in London, United Kingdom, Ajahn Brahm is a Theravada Buddhist monk. Currently Brahm is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia

Namaste -- Cathi

Thursday, July 4, 2013

So Hum Mantra Meditation

Aloha Everyone,

This is one of my favorite mantra meditation techniques.  I believe some of the easiest meditations are the ones we tend to go back to again and again because they can be practiced anytime, anywhere without any props or preparations.  Here is how to do the So Hum Mantra Meditation.

POSTURE - sit in an easy pose.  If you are sitting in a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the floor, legs about shoulder-width, be sure your spine is elongated, relax your abdomen, diaphragm, bring your shoulders up, back and down to make sure they are relaxed, your chest is lifted, imagine your head is being pulled up by the golden thread, tuck your chin slightly about 1/10 of an inch to give alignment of the spine with the back of your head.  Close your eyes.

MUDRA - both hands in Gyan Mudra ((press the tip of your thumb to the tip of the index finger and the other 3 fingers are straight) rest them on your knees.

MANTRA - deep inhalation and think of the word "SO", with full exhalation, think of the word "HUM".

DURATION – begin with 3 minutes then increase to 5, 7 and up to 10 minutes per session.  Be mindful of the every inflow and outflow of your breath. At the beginning of your practice, you will maintain equal time for inhalation and exhalation.  As your practice becomes deeper, try to increase the time of out breath to be one and half to twice as long the in breath.  Notice the texture of your breath.  Are they the same throughout your practice or are they changing. 

BENEFITS - include relieves stress, assists in healing yourself, improves your immune system, offers peace and tranquility and thereby you will experience spontaneous joy and happiness.

CAUTION:  Do not over-do, do not strain.  Use your common sense in doing any pranayama techniques.  Relax in Savasana (Corpse's Pose) and drink plenty of water.

Namaste & Sat Nam - Cathi

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama

Aloha Everyone,

This Chakra Balancing Kundalini Yoga Breathing Exercise is also called Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.  It is a simple but effecting breathing exercise to help in activation of prana (life force) and Kundalini energy to flow through the Shushumna, (Central Spinal Channel) thus awakening the chakras.  When the Kundalini is flowing through the Shushumna you will experience meditative state of consciousness.  Your mind will be calm and you will be able to enjoy the feeling of peace and tranquility.  The entire system of your body will be in rhythm and you will benefit from harmony and balance.

POSTURE:   Sit in easy pose or in a chair.  Elongate your spine, relax your shoulders by bringing them up back then down, and lengthen your neck and slight chin lock about 1/10 of an inch to align the spine with the back of your head.  Close your eyes focus on the Ajna Chakra (3rd Eye Chakra) at the brow point.  Take a couple of long, deep breath to relax your body.

MUDRA - your right hand, thumb, pinky and ring ringers are straight up, index and middle fingers are folded into your palm.  Place left hand in Gyan Mudra (press the tip of your thumb to the tip of the index finger and the other 3 fingers are straight) and rest on your left knee.

BREATHING - using your thumb, gently close right nostril and Inhale through left nostril in count of four.  (Counting is done mentally or you may use your left fingers to keep track).  Then using pinky and ring fingers gently close left nostril exhale right nostril in count of four, without a pause inhale from right nostril in count of four.  Close your right nostril, exhale through left nostril in four counts.  This is one round.  A simple way to remember each round is L-R-R-L. 

MANTRA – To help concentrate, mentally say SAT as you inhale and mentally say NAM as you exhale.  This could be done without using mantra as you may be busy counting and alternating your fingers. 

ENDING: Deep inhalation, exhale fully, holding the breath out and apply Root Lock (Mula Bhanda). Repeat three times then relax completely in Savasana (Corpse's Pose). Drink plenty of water.

DURATION - Start with 10 rounds or you can set a timer for 3 minutes per session.  Once you have been practicing for sometime, you may increase each round to 20 then 30 and your each practice sessions to 9 then to 15 minutes and up to 31 minutes. 

CAUTION:  Do not over-do.  Use your common sense in doing any pranayama techniques. 

Namaste -- Cathi