Seasonal Grounding with Yoga

Seasonal Grounding with Yoga

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Kim Lauch, Yoga Therapist

Lisa Larkin, MD & Associates

September is a time of change.  A transition time in our part of the country when summer’s high level of energy output shifts marking the beginning of nature’s dormant state.  We notice it in the air, nature, and in the way we feel emotionally, physically, and energetically.  This is a month of transition, therefore, an important month for being mindful of how much energy we are using, food we are consuming, sleep patterns, and the stress levels we expose ourselves to on a daily basis and how we process stress.  Through the practice of Yoga, we cultivate the ability to witness – to be aware, the first step to being mindful.

September is also Yoga Awareness month.  Perhaps a time for us to enhance our practice, try Yoga for the first time, or ask questions to learn more about the ancient practices.  Sattva Yoga Therapy is offered at Lisa Larkin, MD and Associates, by Kim Lauch.

No matter what stage of Yoga practitioner you may be, it is important to always have a beginner’s mind and be open to the practice.  In honor of Yoga Awareness Month and the transitioning time of September, I would like to share a  simple yet powerful practice by using your hands.  This gesture of the hands in Sanskrit is called Mudra.   There are over one hundred different Mudras which are used for their healing power and give us the ability to transform our mental attitude.  Mudras are being used for pain management, focusing, relaxation, energizing, and for specific neurological and physiological health opportunities.  Since energies of a Mudra are both subtle and powerful, they need to be approached with respect and caution, like all other Yoga practices.  There are contraindications to some Mudras. 

Mudras are experienced emotionally, physically, and energetically, however they rely on the mind through intention to activate the nervous and glandular system of the physical body.  Timing of the practice and daily repetition harmonizes the two hemispheres of the brain and relaxes frontal lobe functioning giving us control over thoughts and higher mental processes.  There is more information on Mudras than can fit in this article, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or schedule a session to explore how this ancient practice may help your health opportunity. 

Let’s practice Apana Mudra.  Reserve 10 minutes per day for seven days to have a quiet seated practice in a peaceful space.  Read through this practice, then embody it with your eyes closed.  Apana Mudra means “Gesture of the Downward Current of Purifying Energy.”  This practice guideline has been adapted from the evidence-based practice book for IAYT Yoga Therapists trained in Mudra philosophy and science, “MUDRAS,” by Joseph and Lilian Le Page.  Their references for the benefits of Mudra practice include: Mayo Clinic; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; National Headache Foundation; Multiple studies from Oxford: BIOS Scientific Partners; American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and many other Western medical publications and Yoga philosophies. 

Apana Mudra

Especially Helpful For:

  • Supporting all eliminatory processes
  • Constipation and menstrual cramping
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Relieving stress and anxiety
  • Releasing attachment

These are all beneficial for helping us transition through this time of seasonal change when we are more prone for being less grounded, therefore chances of panic attacks, anxiety, sleep disorders, and poor digestive health has increased.

Caution:

  • Those with low blood pressure should carefully monitor the effects.
  • Pregnant women proceed with the guidance of a Yoga Therapist or Mudra-Trained Prenatal Yoga Instructor.

Position Instructions: (see image)

  • Touch the tips of the middle ring fingers of each hand to the thumb of the same hand.
  • Extend the index and little fingers.
  • Rest the backs of the hands onto the thighs or knees.
  • Relax the shoulders back and down, with the spine naturally aligned.

 Breath Instructions:

  • Take several natural breaths and observe the sensations of the gesture.
  • Notice how your breath is directed downward to your navel to the base of your body cultivating a sense of grounding.
  • Slowly begin to lengthen your exhale longer than your inhale and notice the relaxation of the physical body into the earth.
  • After a few breaths you’ll notice the energy gently massaging internally your large intestine, nourishing your eliminatory system to support its optimal functioning.
  • Direct your awareness with your next several rounds of breath to your urinary tract, from your kidneys to your bladder, visualizing gently removing excess liquids.
  • Sense this downward current of energy nourishing your reproductive organs, supporting the movement of fluids that bring new life into being, cultivating vitality in this system.  Even if you no longer have reproductive organs you may visualize this function. 
  •  Visualize the color red beneath your physical body.  The color of Earth.  Continue with the exhale longer than your inhale and take a few rounds of breath with this visualization.  Visualize with each breath the red color from earth’s energy releasing everything that no longer serves your well-being.  Releasing down and out to the depths of the earth.
  • Visualize the red color gently flowing to your thoughts and emotions which no longer serve your well-being, release on your extended exhale and visualize the purification of your psycho-emotional being.
  • After you sense release and relaxation, maintain the extended exhale practice and repeat the following affirmation aloud or silently, three times: “Purified by the downward current of energy, I release all that no longer serves my well-being and journey.”
  • After your last repetition of this affirmation gently release the hand gesture.  Open your palms wide and make a fist, repeat this three times.  Next make a fist and circle the wrists three times in both directions.
  • Rest the hands open and take several breaths.
  • When you are ready, slowly blink the eyes open, returning to the space around you yet maintain awareness of purification, release, and grounding.

What is Sattva Yoga Therapy?  It is similar to Yoga Instruction however involves earning a diploma after your yoga instructor certification.  It includes 800 hours of evidence-based International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) accredited education which complies with western medical therapy standards.  Sattva Yoga Therapy is different from other IAYT Yoga Therapy programs in that it is combined with the philosophy of the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda.  As well, yoga therapists complete an additional year of clinical practicum.  Yoga therapists, like yoga instructors, continue to deeply study the philosophy of yoga, however also learn from accredited Western medical clinicians. Depending on one’s health opportunity a customized protocol is developed to not only ease symptom suffering, but also to cultivate awareness at the root level.  You are part of your own healing process on physical, emotional, and energetic levels.  Whether you have very little range of motion or have a full range of mobility the protocol is customized to you.  There are many pathways to optimizing your health.  We are happy to provide this holistic wellness offering at Lisa Larkin, MD and Associates.