A few years ago, one of my yoga teachers taught me a very special variation of a mudra with which I fell in love with right away. I’m unable to explain why I felt such a connection with it, but since that day on I integrated it to my practice as a sacred moment. However, it was just recently that I decided to take a closer look at it, and when I did so, many things started to make complete sense to me. And then the passion for it began.
The mudra I’m talking about is the Anjali mudra or Pranamasana, or for better remembrance the “Love Mudra”. I’m sure you’ve seen it before: both palms touch each other, fingers point up and hands are placed in the center of the chest. It’s one of the most practiced mudras because it’s also used for praying in several religions and cultures. The variation I learned is just slightly different: with hands in the same position, they first touch the forehead, then the mouth and finally end where they’re usually placed, in the center of the chest.
What does all of it mean? Well, as my teacher then explained, we place our hands in “Love Mudra” first on our foreheads (fingers touch our ‘third eye’) to symbolise the cleansing of our thoughts and to assure these generate from love. Then we continue to the mouth, so that every word is said with love, and last, but not least, we finish with our hands on our chest in the same mudra to symbolise that we aim to live in love and to act from it too.
The ‘circuit’ that is created by the touching of our palms during the first stage of this variation of “Love Mudra” allows to canalise the energy of the 6th chakra, the Ajna chakra, spiritual energy center for imagination, intuition and most importantly, insight. Then, the circuit that is formed during the last stage of the variation canalises the energy of the 4th chakra, Anahata, and therefore connects ourselves with the power of love.
When I finally understood this, the meaning of the mudra variation I was using almost automatically during my yoga practice, I felt overwhelmed, but in a good sense! Don’t get me wrong! I started to focus more on it, to make it more meaningful for my life, in and out of the mat. Then I remembered something. Some time ago I read a quote that said something like this: “Before you speak, first ask yourself if it’s true, if it’s necessary and if it’s kind”. No one seems to agree about who it’s acknowledged to, but I found it so simple and useful that I made a post-it out of it and try to always have it close by.
And this quote perfectly aligns with all that the Anjali mudra stands for! Give it a try: with your hands on your forehead, realise if what’s passing through your mind is true, or if it’s just a temporary consequence of your firing emotions. Then, before you feel the urge to react to those emotions, with your hands to your mouth, ask yourself this: is it really necessary to say what you’re thinking? Will it make the situation better? Is it worth it, really? And finally, question yourself about the kindness of your thoughts or words while having your hands close to your heart. Is it kind, to yourself, to be struggling with all these feelings?
Now the real challenge is to apply this outside of the mat too, to use it in our everyday lives. I don’t always go through with it, I need to be honest. It’s just hard, especially when I’m against a moment of anger, stress or frustration. But I think the important thing is to first acknowledge that there are tools we can use to help us get through the difficult parts of life, and then focus on making them almost a daily routine, until they become part of who we are. If you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a useless argument, for example, give yourself a moment to walk away from it to a quiet and alone place, then take a deep breath and ask yourself all the questions of the quote while practicing the mudra. I’m almost certain it will be of help.
So, be true, be necessary, and be kind to yourself and others. Act with the warmth you too would like to receive. Live in kindness. Be kindness.
Credits: Photographs by Nadine Besch.