A Mudra for Energy and Vitality: Pran Mudra

Hey yogis it’s Mudra Monday again. Pran mudra, or life mudra, is your hand mudra for the week and it’s a great mudra for energy and vitality. If you’re feeling low energy or you have a case of the “blahs”, this mudra can be super helpful when trying to overcome these doldrums. It helps boost our sense of vitality and helps improve our energy. I like to incorporate it into my asana practice, but I also find it powerful when done in my meditation practice.

pran-hand-mudra

A Mudra for Vitality: Pran Mudra Practice

To practice pran mudra guide your thumb to touch both your little finger and ring finger. Middle finger and index finger are extended straight. Practice this mudra with both hands. This mudra is best used in meditation and pranayama. Find a comfortable seat for meditation and pranayama and then draw your hands into the mudra and rest them on the back of your thighs/knees.

I like to practice this energizing mudra with a very simple pranayama called Sama Vritti. I find that combining Sama Vritti with Pran mudra gives me a sense of balanced energy and vitality. I’m energized, but still grounded. Sama vritti is an equal length inhale and exhale. This pranayama can be combined with the chant of “So hum” for maximum benefit. Chant “So” on the inhale and “hum” on the exhale. I like to imagine life force energy flowing into my body on each inhale and nourishing my cells on the exhale. Our minds are so powerful, let me know if you have a visualization that helps your practice.

Feel free to practice pran mudra for 5-30 minutes each day.

Benefits:

Pran mudra activates Muladhara (our root chakra) and pelvic floor, in addition to our third chakra, Manipura. Our third chakra is our center of personal power and self confidence. This simple hand mudra has many benefits, for example: it increases vitality while reducing fatigue, it improves our assertiveness, self confidence, courage and ability to see things through. When combined with slow, conscious deep breaths pran mudra is calming and can help overcome nervousness.

This mudra, in addition to improving confidence and courage can also help you envision your future in accordance with your dharma. According to Anodea Judith’s book Creating on Purpose “When you act from vision, rather than what the world tells you is possible, your life becomes energized, and your vision becomes contagious to others.” It’s time to take charge and live your ideal life. If you’re not happy with your current situation I encourage you to begin a mudra practice and to also begin working with a sankalpa.

This mudra activates prana, our life force, by uniting fire, water and earth elements.

Affirmations:

“I have the fortitude, confidence and courage to achieve what my heart desires.”

“My energy stores are plentiful. I feel vibrant and alive.”

Do you already practice pran mudra? Have you experienced its benefits? Send me a message I’d love to hear about it!

Do you want to learn more about mudras? Check out this Intro to Mudras blog post or grab Gertrud Hirschi’s mudra book… it’s amazing or… check out my book, where you’ll find 30 different mudras and meditations.

Love and Light,

Autumn

*Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These earnings help make the maintenance of this blog possible. You can rest assured that I only link to products I know and love.

A Mudra for Letting Go: Ksepana Mudra

Yogis, I hope your week is off to a great start. Mine has started off a bit on the frustrating side, so this morning I decided to incorporate ksepana mudra into my meditation and asana practice. Ksepana mudra is the mudra for letting go and removing negativity (thoughts, people, energy, etc.) and I need it! In Sanskrit Ksepana means to throw (away), to let go, or to cast off. This mudra is aptly named! Give it a go and let me know how you feel afterward.

ksepana mudra for letting go

Ksepana Mudra Practice:

To practice ksepana mudra interlace the fingers of both hands and then release the index fingers. The index fingers are touching one another. The thumbs are crossed and the thumb pads rest, more or less, in the crook between thumb and index finger. When seated and practicing this mudra the index fingers should point down. The index fingers should point toward your feet when practicing this mudra lying down.

You can also practice this mudra in your asana practice. A flow that I like to do in a seated posture.

  1. Begin with the mudra at heart center. Index fingers pointing up.
  2. On an inhale turn the index fingers to point down and slightly away, extending the arms long toward the floor.
  3. Using the same inhale breath sweeping the arms up overhead.
  4. Exhale index fingers come to the crown of the head, to the forehead, the nose, then the lips and back to the heart like a waterfall tumbling over smooth stones.
  5. Each inhale envision vibrant, light energy flowing into your body and on your exhale let go of negativity in any of its forms.
  6. Practice a total of seven times.

Benefits of Ksepana Mudra:

Ksepana mudra helps us release negativity and frustration. Practicing the mudra, especially as stated above, creates a palpable difference in our energy. I call this letting go mudra an “attitude adjustment”.

Affirmations:

  • “I let go of what no longer serves me.”
  • “Spent energy in my body, mind, and soul flows away from me, and I thankfully accept all things that refresh me,” from Gertrud Hirsch’s book Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands. Gertrud’s book has been on my bookshelf for years and is literally my go-to book for mudras.
  • “I surrender to the flow of the Universe.”
  • “I embrace uncertainty with ease.”

If you want to learn more about Mudras and powerful meditation practices that you can combine with these symbolic hand gestures, check out my book, The Little Book of Mudra Meditations. Hope to see you on your mat or cushion soon.

Love and Light,

Autumn

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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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*Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These earnings help make the maintenance of this blog possible. You can rest assured that I only link to products I know and love.

18 Tips to Freshen Up Your Yoga Practice

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What happens when you get bored with your yoga practice? I know that it happens to me. When I fall off the yoga wagon, especially as a yoga teacher, I begin to have feelings of guilt sneak in. Feelings of “I’m not good enough” or “How can I teach yoga if I’m not practicing?” So I want you to know that I’ve been there. I feel your frustration, your dismay, your guilt… I’m here to tell you to “let it go”. I’m not going to tell you to stop practicing, but I will encourage you to let your yoga practice take on a different form. Here are my tried and true tips for getting over your boredom and feeling good about your yoga practice again.

  1. Take class with a different teacher. I might get some flack here from other yoga instructors for saying this, but it’s okay to explore. It’s okay to skip your regular class and drop-in to another teacher’s class. Each teacher has their own style, their own way of cueing, and their own way of formatting their classes…. going to another teacher’s class gets you out of your rut and out of autopilot. You will likely experience different poses (woohoo!) and different benefits and alignment cues that you can bring back to your regular classes. And hell we all suffer from avidya (ignorance), which means that our own teacher can give us the same message every class and we may not be ready for it, so we don’t hear it… well you might be ready for it in another teacher’s class… or they may word it in a way that it is more relatable to you.
  2. Incorporate more pranayama, meditation and chanting. For most of us, myself included, we get stuck in asana land. I love asana land! It’s fun and pretty and challenging, but sometimes we forget about the other parts of yoga like pranayama, meditation, chanting. Learn some new pranayama (kapalabhati, brahmari, sitali, ratio breathing, etc.). Kick start your meditation practice. There are so many meditation resources out their now (including apps that make it ridiculously easy to practice). Or delve into the world of Bhakti and learn a new chant or two.
  3. Go on a retreat. Attending a yoga retreat (or teacher training) is a great way to get your asana in gear! It’s okay to spend a little extra money on YOU, on YOUR development, on YOUR growth. Don’t feel guilty about it. Go on a retreat with your favorite teacher OR one you’ve been following on social media OR be bold and courageous and book with someone you find online in a destination you’ve always wanted to check out (I would recommend doing some homework before you hand over your hard earned cash though).
  4. Try a new-to-you style of yoga. If you always practice Bikram, try vinyasa. If you always practice vinyasa, try yin. Maybe delve into the world of Ashtanga Yoga… why not? Be adventurous in your yoga practice.
  5. Change your environment. If you always practice in a yoga studio head on over to the local gym and try one of their classes. Or find an outdoor class at a local park or lodge. Seek out SUP yoga (yoga on stand up paddleboards)… you’ll get an awesome work out, be challenged in new ways and likely you’ll get wet… at least at your first class.
  6. Schedule up some yoga playtime. Connect with one of your yoga buddies and schedule some time to just play… maybe play with a little Acro yoga or partner poses or help each other work on those inversions and arm balances. Likely you’ll have fun in the process and make/keep a good friend too.
  7. Karma yoga. Okay it’s not asana, but it’s equally important. Find a volunteer gig at a local community center, teach a yoga class for underprivileged kids… even better get your yoga buddies together and do a little karma yoga as a group.
  8. Find another hobby. Eek! I know I said it, but it’s okay to branch out. I would recommend finding another active hobby like mountain biking or tennis… something that gets your body moving. Being active in other ways will make you appreciate your yoga practice that much more… especially when your muscles start to get tight and that range of motion you used to take for granted is gone.
  9. Read a yoga-ish book. I recommend How Yoga Works by Gesne Michael Roach and Christie McNally
  10. Take a trip. Allow yourself to be inspired by giant trees, mountains, lakes and even the hustle and bustle of a new city. Strike a pose and have fun with it. Put your feet in the dirt. Swim out to that tiny island in the lake. Enjoy the sun on your skin.
  11. Get a new mat or yoga leggings. I know, I know. Not very yogic of me, but whatever. Buy yourself something nice. Get a new Manduka mat in a fun color or get those wild and crazy patterned Liquido leggings you’ve been eye-ing forever. Give yourself a little extra incentive to get on your mat.
  12. Change your playlist. Okay this only applies if you practice at home, but music can have a huge impact on your practice and your mental state.
  13. Sign up for one of the online yoga class platforms. Create a home practice, try new teachers, practice when it works for you. Love it.
  14. Join a social media yoga challenge. A fun way to connect with other yogis, see new postures and new variations of familiar postures. Have fun with it.
  15. Focus on a specific body part or type of pose. Perhaps strengthening or lengthening the hamstrings. Focus on backbends or inversions. Perhaps focus on opening up your hips. You get the picture. Give yourself something to explore and also something to work toward.
  16. Schedule up a yoga and wine night with your friends. Why not? Yoga doesn’t have to be in the studio to be wonderful. Take turns teaching and follow it up with a glass or two of wine and some snacks.
  17. Practice shorter practices. Set a timer and allow yourself to be present on your mat for 5, 10, 20 minutes. Keep it simple so you don’t get discouraged.
  18. Go on a weekend yoga getaway. There are so many options these days. Go to a festival, conference, workshop or retreat in a different city or state. You’ll have the opportunity to get your practice back on track, explore a new place and make new yoga friends.

 

You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to practice 5 times a week. It’s okay to be inspired by other things. Your practice will always be with you. Know that your practice doesn’t need to look like everyone else’s practice. Remember it is YOUR PRACTICE. It is yours and yours alone AND it is a practice. Don’t beat up on yourself. Dig deep find that inner fire. It’s there. We will see you on your mat when you’re ready.

Yogis do you have any other tips or tricks you use when you get bored with your yoga practice? I’d love to hear them.

 

Love and Light,

Autumn

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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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Quick Tips for Stress Reduction

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Stress is so pervasive in today’s world. Just about every person I meet is struggling with stress and stress management. We have so many demands placed on us daily and in our strive for perfection, for climbing to the top we forget to slow down, to get off of our computers and take time for relaxation. Sometimes as a yoga instructor I feel like I’m expected to be perfect, to have my shit together, when really there are some days where I am literally just hanging on by a thread…. just like everyone else. Sometimes I forget to practice what I preach, so maybe that’s why I am writing this blog post. To remind myself that reducing stress can be utterly simple… it’s just a matter of using the tools we’ve been given.

The physiological signs of stress are the same for everyone: increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and constricts peripheral blood vessels. How it outwardly manifests varies from person to person. Some react to stressful situations with an overexcited stress response characterized by being quick to become fired up or by being quick to express agitation or anger. Others may react with an under-excited stress response characterized by depression or by shutting down in stressful situations. Your “typical” stress response will determine what kind of activities you need to truly reduce stress. Those with overexcited stress responses will need activities that are quieter, while those with under-active stress responses will need more stimulating exercises.

Maintained high levels of stress are associated with all sorts of health problems including, but not limited to: obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. High levels of stress may also lead to adrenal fatigue, accelerated aging and premature death. If stress management isn’t part of your daily routine now may be the time to start.

The following is a short list of activities for stress management.

  1. Focus on your breath. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath. Become aware of the quality of your breath and the texture of your breath. Begin to lengthen your breath. Inhale for a count of 4 or 5 and exhale for a count of 4 or 5 and allow the breath to deepen without strain. If you find it hard to focus on your breath place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Witness the breath for 3-5 minutes. Notice how you feel afterward.
  2. Move your body. Go for a walk. Practice a few yoga postures (1/2 sun salutations or more) in which you can connect breath with movement.
  3. Get some fresh air. Eat your lunch outside. Leave your phone in the office. Take a walk around the block. Go for a hike/bike ride before or after work.
  4. De-clutter your workspace. Having a clean workspace means you aren’t wasting time shifting things around on your desk. It also means that those pesky tasks that are piling up won’t be staring you in the face.
  5. On the same note. Get organized… perhaps even hire someone to help you become organized. Time management is a huge part of stress management. You’ll be able to spend more time doing the important tasks and less time doing the menial tasks.
  6. Reach out to a calm friend that is also a good listener and enjoy a little face time…. real face time, not the cell phone version.
  7. Make time for meditation. Any type of meditation. There are plenty of apps that you can use if you’d like a guided meditation. Some option are listed here in my meditation blog post. You don’t need to meditate for 20 minutes or an hour. Start with 5 minutes and work from there. Taking just a few minutes a day for quiet meditation is proven to work wonders.
  8. Yoga nidra is another technique that can be used for stress management. There are many recorded classes on YouTube of varying quality and length, I have a downloadable yoga nidra on offer for those that subscribe to my newsletter. You may also find that some of the local yoga studios and wellness centers offer live guided yoga nidras.
  9. Massage. The power of touch is phenomenal. Whether you visit a professional for a massage or give yourself a 5 minute massage you will feel much more relaxed afterward.
  10. Drop into a yoga class. A good class will include plenty of movement, breath work, meditation and also time for rest.

Resources:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/stress-management-approaches-for-preventing-and-reducing-stress

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-basics/hlv-20049495

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

37 Stress Management Tips from the Experts

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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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5 Signs You Need a Yoga Retreat

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Okay, we get it. Sometimes we lose sight of our yoga practice… it gets boring or life and work take us away from our practice. Here are 5 signs you need a yoga retreat.

1. You’re bored

You might need a yoga retreat if you are you doing the same things over and over again? When you’re on autopilot you lose your passion and zest for life. You may feel comfortable in your routine but are you happy and fulfilled? Going on a yoga retreat can give you a fresh perspective and reignite your passion for life! You’ll be able to take a step back from your daily reality and find what truly fulfills you.

2. You’re stressed

You might need a yoga retreat if you are using phrases like, “I’m too busy” or “I’m running out of time.” Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and wired all at the same time! These feelings stem from stress and anxiety. 90 percent of all doctor visits are related to stress and can cause and/or contribute to SO many different health problems. Yoga is therapeutic and allows your body to relax. And since your body is only able to heal when it’s relaxed, a yoga retreat is the perfect way to restore, not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.

3. You need a technology detox

You may need a yoga retreat if you are so attached to your phone that it feels like another body part. How much time do you actually spend scrolling through Instagram or Facebook? While it’s nice to have communication and information at our fingertips, too much technology can be overwhelming and stressful. Going on a yoga retreat allows you to turn your phone off and connect with yourself, nature and have meaningful conversations with others.

4. You want to meet new yoga friends

Yoga retreats are a perfect way to meet like-minded people who share your same love for yoga. You’ll meet people from all over the world with some of the same interests as you. Maybe you’ll even find a yoga buddy who’ll accompany you on your next retreat!

5. You want to deepen your yoga practice

You may need a yoga retreat if you’d like to deepen your yoga practice. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been practicing yoga, a retreat is a great way to deepen your practice. Weather you’ve been practicing for 20 days or 20 years, you’ll be able to gently explore the limits of your body and expand your mind. On our retreats, you’ll practice yoga twice daily which will increase your strength and flexibility, while helping you invite more gratitude into your life.

Are you experiencing any of these signs? If you are, it’s definitely time to book a yoga retreat. Join one of our upcoming retreats.

Click here to learn more and book today!

Stacey Ripp

Growing up in the mountainous town of Bend, Oregon Stacey spent her early years exploring unmarked paths, hidden lakes and dirt roads. Her love for storytelling and communication led her to the Journalism school at University of Oregon.

During her time at UO, she found yoga and it was love at first sight. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations she began her career at a marketing agency, where she worked with a variety of clients to develop creative campaigns and increase brand visibility.

Eventually, her love for mountains and dirt roads brought her back to Bend where she found herself in Elearning. She worked as a creative director to develop eLearning courses for thought leaders. Now, she continues to work in both eLearning and marketing as a freelance consultant. And of course, she still loves yoga and continues to strengthen her practice.

Stacey completed her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Ambuja Yoga and can be found teaching yoga at Snap Fitness in Bend, Oregon.
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