Day 41- mudra in motion

I wake up in the middle of the night with crippling stomach pains, wishing I hadn’t eaten so much. I am wide awake when I hear an owl. I can’t sleep. I start to feel the bed move and am about to kick Andrew to stop moving around when I hear the tell-tale sounds of glass rattling. The whole ground is shaking and I am yelling at him to wake up but the tremor only lasts a few more seconds anyway. He lies straight back down to go to sleep. He has lived in Indonesia for almost eight years. If he isn’t worried, I guess I shouldn’t be either but I still feel like a cat that’s been splashed with cold water. I am shivering and listening intently to the waves crashing, just in case. He assures me we are up high enough in case anything happened but that we should be fine. It was strong, he admits, but short. This is only the second earthquake I have ever felt. I felt one in Padang last year but it was a lot smaller. I cant help but let my imagination run away with me for another hour or so but eventually I just focus on my breath and find that sleep soon follows.

When I wake up in the morning, I am fatigued and feel heavy. I roll out of bed and onto the mat. I try to do some gentle twists and find myself slowly opening up. As I move slowly, I let go of the rigid traditional hand variations in poses and start to gracefully allow my hands and arms to flow, curling and dancing through the air. In teacher training, this was warned against as ‘disco arms’, which we were encouraged not to teach. But this is home practice so anything goes. My hands move like wings, flowing into and out of every pose and  my finger finds my thumb, catching a mudra.

Mudra, meaning ‘seal’ in Sanskrit, is a form of sacred hand gesture and has been used for centuries to direct energy through the body. Statues of Buddha and other Hindu deities often depict a mudra in action. According to some belief systems, imbalances in the body can be healed by mudras and asana, meditation and pranayama can be enhanced. With my thumb and index finger together as I practice, I am using the Gyan Mudra. This is a well known yoga mudra that has multiple meanings. According to, the circuit created by the fingers ‘prevents the outward dissipation of energy’. It is also said to enhance communication, happiness, invite calmness, intelligence and is particularly useful for meditation. I have also been told that the point between the thumb and finger represents the present and keeps one anchored in the present moment. I continue to flow through my practice, using the gyan mudra whenever it feels appropriate- reverse warrior, half moon, tree pose and flipped dog. The slow flowing practice, with special attention to my hands has created another level of moving meditation. It is like offering a sacred dance to the divine, making sure that even the extremities are graceful. I lie down for savasana and allow my hands to open. I often feel as though the fingers want to curl in when I lie down, like they are subconsciously holding on for dear life. As I lie in savasana today, I feel my fingers open freely. They have been set free and now are ready to open and explore the many states of mudra.

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