A Mudra for Trust: Vajrapradama Mudra

hand mudra for trust

Vajrapradama mudra has been resonating with me deeply. Each time I practice vajrapradama a whole bunch of emotions well up from within. I’m currently in a bit of a life and business transition and there are many unknowns. It’s sometimes hard for me to admit that I don’t know what the next step is or that I don’t know if I’m doing things right. I’m not going to lie… I’ve been experiencing a lot of fear recently and my self-confidence has been lagging. I don’t consider myself to be that fearful when it comes to big leaps of faith or pushing up to my edges, but unfortunately I’ve also built a wall around my heart; a wall that I’ve been mindfully dismantling piece by piece. And it’s not always pretty!

I practice the mudra for unshakeable trust in my heart meditations, in my asana classes and even when I have something important and/or heartfelt to say. Sometimes vajrapradama feels like the only thing tethering my mind to my heart and right now I need it. Vajrapradama mudra builds unshakeable trust, courage, and self confidence… we can always use more of these three qualities.

In Sanskrit vajra means diamond and thunderbolt. The diamond represents indestructibility and the thunderbolt represents unstoppable force. When you have unshakeable trust in your True Self (the one that is aligned with the divine) you become a force to be reckoned with and obstacles are overcome with ease.

I’ve also found Ganesha mudra helpful lately. Ganesha mudra is the hand mudra for confidence, courage, compassion and openness. Are you noticing a theme here?

How to Practice Vajrapradama Mudra

Practicing vajrapradama, the mudra for trust, is very simple: interlace your fingers, keep your palms open and rest your hands on your heart. Close your eyes and feel your breath and your heartbeat beneath your hands. You can use this mudra as often as you would like. Like I said, I’m currently using it all the time.

Positive Affirmations for Vajrapradama Mudra

I recommend using a positive affirmation that resonates with you. Here are some examples:

  • I am open to receiving divine guidance. I trust that I am exactly where I need to be right now.
  • “I open my heart to the Universe.  I trust the wisdom of a power greater than my own and accept its healing.” From SpiritVoyage.com
  • “I am a creation of the greatest omnipotence, whose strength and power lovingly support me at all times.” From Gertrud Hirschi’s Mudras Yoga in Your Hands.
  • “I am confident because I trust in myself. I am fully supported.” From Anita Goa.

How to Teach Crow Pose

Are you finding it difficult to teach crow pose effectively? When my yoga practice began arm balances were rarely taught in group yoga classes. I struggled with the posture myself for a really long time. But from that struggle I’ve learned nearly every tip in the book for crow pose and here I will share them. We will cover tips for teaching crow pose or bakasana (for all of you Sanskrit junkies), different ways to prep for it,  and how to use props to assist entry into the posture.

I joke that it took me seven years to get crow pose. Maybe it wasn’t quite seven years, but it took me longer than average. Eventually, once I stopped freaking out about falling on my face or injuring my wrists, shoulders, etc. it happened. I nailed. The funny thing is before I mastered crow pose I was already practicing other arm balances. I guess with bakasana you risk falling flat on your face and I have a deep fear of falling… somewhere in my psyche I have linked falling and failing together into one big massive knot of fear and in crow pose you literally have to face your fears head on.

Learn to effectively teach your students to face their fears head on with Bakasana/Crow Pose.

crow pose tutorial

Teach Crow Pose Effectively With These Alignment Tips

  • Hands are shoulder width distance
  • Fingers are spread wide
  • Press down through the base knuckles of the fingers, especially through your index finger and thumb
  • Dig fingertips into your mat
  • Use hasta bandha
  • Make sure the elbows are above the wrist and not “winging out to the side”
  • the eye gaze, or drishti, is slightly forward toward the top of the mat (not back at your feet)
  • Bring the knees as high up on the triceps as possible
  • Squeeze knees and triceps into one another
  • Engage mulabandha and uddiyana bandha as the hips lift high
  • Tip forward slightly
  • Guide the big toes toward one another
  • Lift heels up toward your hips
  • And breathe…

Prep Poses for Crow Pose

Remember to warm up before practicing crow pose. Before you teach Crow Pose prepare by teaching a few or all of the following postures.

  • Happy Baby
  • Cat/Cow
  • Lizard Pose
  • Seated or Reclined Crow Pose
  • Malasana- Yoga Squat
  • Chaturanga Dandasana
  • Boat Pose & Half Boat
  • Wrist therapy
modify crow pose beginner tips

Brushing up on crow pose basics on retreat in Nicaragua.

Props and Modifications for Crow Pose

For students with shoulder or wrist injuries offer seated crow pose or malasana.

In seated crow emphasize squeezing upper arms and knees squeezing in toward one another, the engagement of the pelvic floor and lower abdomen and rounding the upper back.

Offer malasana with or without a block underneath the pelvis. Encourage students to lift through mula bandha, press down through the feet, and squeeze upper arms and inner thighs/knees into one another.

For a student afraid of falling on their face offer a blanket or block underneath their forehead when you teach crow pose.

For a student struggling to find the engagement and balance in bakasana bring them over to the wall.

Set them up in malasana about a foot and one half away from the wall. Get them set up to come into the posture and have them press the top of their head into the wall as they work on lifting the feet off the ground.

For students struggling to lift their hips high in crow pose suggest a block under their feet. Lifting the hips up high can bring up a fear of falling for some students. If this is the case offer verbal encouragement. You may choose to provide a hands-on assist.

Advanced Variations for Crow Pose

For advanced students offer variations to challenge their strength and focus.

Teach crow pose to tripod headstand back to crow pose.

From crow pose teach a jump/float back to chaturanga and then forward to crow pose.

Offer up a bakasana fusion pose like: half tittibasana and half crow pose or half lolasana and half crow pose.

For students that have the strength and would like a challenge offer Eka Pada Bakasana (one legged crow pose).

Autumn is available for yoga instructors seeking mentorship. Have questions? Reach out and connect.

 

 

Quiet Sitting: Nine Different Types of Meditation

There are many, many different types of meditation practices. When you google “types of meditation” the results can be pretty overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure what you’re looking for or what you like. This is a paired down list of popular meditation types. The most popular type of meditation in recent history is mindfulness meditation with it’s many health benefits.

Nine Meditation Types For Beginners

Mindfulness Meditation

Since mindfulness meditation is the most popular meditation practice today I’ve put it in the number one spot. You’ve probably heard of it before, but may not know what it is or how it is different from other meditation practices. Mindfulness meditation is simply paying attention to the present moment and being aware of all the sensations, thoughts, etc. that arise without judgement or attachment. Here is a cool video from Jon Kabat Zinn about how a mindfulness meditation practice lights up different parts of the brain and here is a link to get you started with a mindfulness practice.

 

2. Transcendental Meditationmeditation types beginners

Transcendental meditation doesn’t seem to be as popular today as it was in the past, but there is still a substantial community worldwide. Transcendental meditation was made popular by the Beatles who learned the technique from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental meditation (TM) has it’s roots in religion and involves mantra (sound) repetition for 15-20 minutes twice daily. Transcendental meditation teachers are required to undergo a certified training before they can teach and share the practice and students are initiated into the practice.

Much research has been done on the technique, but the research has been poorly conducted and unfortunately is of little scientific value. But honestly, any form of meditation is likely to create positive changes in your life, so why not try TM.

3. Mantra & Japa

Similar to Transcendental Meditation, mantra and japa meditation involve the repetition of a mantra, sound or divine name. This type of meditation practice is often practiced with a mala. A mala is a necklace, similar to a rosary, with 108 beads on it. The mantra is repeated 108 times either softly spoken or internally repeated. This type of ancient meditation practice is used in many different religious traditions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

homemade-mala-diy

A handmade green sandalwood meditation mala.

4. Guided Meditation: Chakras, Third Eye, Breath, Journey & More

Guided meditations are wonderful for those who need a bit more guidance and whose minds tend to wander off. Guided meditations can focus on visuals, energetics, sounds, the breath, emotional states and much more. There are many apps you can use on your phone or ipad. Choose your length of practice, the teacher, the focus and get started.

yoga-chakras

5. Trataka Meditation (also spelled tratak)

Trataka is a form of meditation where one focuses the eyes on one point. Very commonly trataka is performed while gazing at a candle flame. Eventually you may want to close the eyes. When the eyes are closed envision the candle flame in all of it’s detail. Hold this vision of the flame as long as you can and when it dissipates you may end your meditation practice. Slowly open your eyes. Don’t look directly at the flame again right after your meditation. You may need eye drops if the eyes feel dry or strained.

6. Focused Attention- Zazen, Breath, Mantra, etc.

In focused attention meditation the mind is focused on one thing; that one thing could be the breath, sensation in the body, a mantra, an object, etc. The attention is held on this one thing. As thoughts come up, and they will, the mind’s focus is guided back to it’s original point of focus.

7. Metta- Loving Kindness

Metta, or loving kindness, meditation is a practice of sending love to oneself, a good friend, a neutral person, a difficult person, all four of them equally and then eventually to the entire universe. This exercise is excellent for cultivating compassion. Here is a Loving Kindness Meditation with Jack Kornfield.

loving-kindness-meditation

Loving kindness meditation is kind of like a hug for the soul.

8. Vipassana

Vipassana often begins with awareness on the breath and then moves to a practice that includes noting external stimuli without becoming attached to the source of the stimuli. An example could be if you hear a motorcycle drive by label it “hearing”, not motorcycle or if you notice a sour taste in your mouth instead of labeling it sour note it as “taste”. Noting the sense that recognized the external stimuli. It is very common to attend vipassana retreats where one has the opportunity to delve deep into a meditation practice.

9. Yoga Nidra

I hesitate to include yoga nidra on this list because I don’t necessarily consider it a meditation practice. Yoga nidra is “yogic sleep” and it is a way to access the unconscious and subconscious mind. It is a guided practice, similar to that of a guided meditation. Yoga nidra induces a state of deep relaxation and yoga nidra has a multitude of benefits. Here are 8 Benefits of Yoga Nidra.

relaxation-meditation-yoga-nidra

Not sure where to start? Google your local community and see what’s available. You might be surprised to find local meditation groups and meditation teachers that would be more than happy to take you under their wing. Another option is to go on a yoga and meditation retreat. On retreat you’ll often go over the basics of meditation and gradually increase time throughout the week and you’ll have an opportunity to talk to others and share experiences.

Good luck on your meditation practice. Feel free to shoot me a private message if you have any questions via our contact form.

Love and Light,

Autumn

Ushas Mudra

Ushas mudra is the mudra for new beginnings, alertness and the second chakra, swadisthana, at the sacrum. The second chakra is our center of sexuality and creativity. In Sanskrit, Ushas means “break of the day” or “origin of good things” hence the mudra being used for new beginnings.

ushas mudra hand mudra

To Practice Ushas Mudra

Ushas mudra can be practiced first thing in the morning to help wake the body. It is the perfect practice when you have those three “snooze button” kind of mornings. To practice ushas mudra as a female interlace your fingers placing your right thumb between the index finger and thumb of your left hand. Your left thumb gentle presses into the thumb of the right hand. Males practice ushas mudra with the fingers interlaced and the right thumb resting on top of the left thumb.

Here is my favorite way to practice the mudra: maintaining the mudra take your hands back behind your head and let the head rest heavy in the palms of the hands, then stretch the elbows out to the side. With elbows pressing back into your pillow or bed begin to deepen your breath, perhaps arch your back slightly. Take a few rounds of deep breath here and then (still maintaining the mudra) stretch your arms overhead and turn the palms away from you. Stretch the body as long as you can and point out through your toes. Take some ankle circles. Take a few rounds of breath here and when you feel energized and alert make your way out of bed.

Ushas Mudra Benefits

According to Gertrud Hirschi, “This mudra concentrates the sexual energy of our second chakra and directs it into the energy centers above it.” Ushas mudra improves mental alertness, balances our hormones and concentrates sexual energy.

Affirmation for Ushas:

I am enthusiastic about life. I enjoy life’s pleasures.

I am present and alert in all of my actions.

I embrace change and new beginnings.

Super Easy Super Delicious Vegan Tomato Soup

Guys it’s already fall! Summer flew by, but I’m not upset about it because fall means cozy sweaters, cute boots, hot yoga, and delicious fall recipes. Speaking of recipes, let’s talk soup. I LOVE soup, but I have never been a great soup creator to be completely honest. That’s why I start simple when it comes to soup 😉

best-vegan-tomato-soup-recipe

Today for lunch I made a straight up 5 star italian tomato soup. Sounds pretty basic, but there was a flavor explosion going on in my mouth! My kids loved it and slurped up the very last drop. Also the mouth watering tomato herb aroma flowing through the house wasn’t too bad either!

 

This particular tomato soup is so easy and takes about an hour to make from scratch! Not to mention it’s vegan as well:) Vegan tomato soup… yes please!!!

creamy-tomato-soup-recipe

Vegan Tomato Soup Ingredients:

 

  • 2 lbs of fresh organic tomatoes (different varieties ensures maximum flavor! I used heirloom and your typical on the vine tomatoes.)
  • 1-2 organic shallots peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 orgainc garlic cloves peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 springs of organic thyme, leaves picked from stem
  • 1-2 tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt + pepper
  • ½ heaping cup of raw cashews (soaked for at least 2-3 hours and drained)
  • 1 tablespoon organic tomato paste
  • ¼ cup organic basil (fresh)
  • 2- 2 ½ cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 

Steps to Make Your Super Delicious Vegan Tomato Soup:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice your tomatoes. For larger tomatoes slice into quarters and for smaller slice into halves, if cherry tomatoes leave as is. Place your sliced tomatoes on baking sheet.
  3. Cozy up the garlic and shallots to the sliced tomatoes on the baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle thyme leaves over the tomatoes, garlic, and shallots.
  5. Then drizzle the 1-2 tbsps olive oil over the tomatoes, garlic, and shallots. Add salt and pepper to season the tomatoes. Then place baking sheet in oven for about 30-35 minutes.
  6. While tomatoes are in the oven blend cashews, tomato paste, basil, vegetable stock together. Set aside.
  7. When tomatoes are starting to look wrinkled/roasted and your mouth is watering from the very fragrant tomatoes then go ahead and pull those babies out. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and shallots to the blended cashew mixture and blend on high until your have a smooth puree soup texture. (If you have to blend a few tomatoes at a time due to space in your blender that is perfectly okay!)
  8. Once all blended and smooth go ahead and add the soup to a pot and bring to a simmer. Add in the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste!
  9. Enjoy your delicious restaurant style soup:)

 

vegan-tomato-soup-recipe-last