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Yoga

5 Simple Mudras For Anxiety And Fear

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Negative emotions are hard to avoid especially during uncertain times and crisis situations. If we don’t know how to deal with them they become pretty destructive and may bring unpleasant circumstances such as exhaustion and even physical illness. Anxiety and fear are the most common emotions that we feel during difficult times. But what if I told you that relief from these emotions is right at your fingertips? Yes, you read it right! In this article, I will share with you 5 simple yet effective mudras for anxiety and fear that will help you to find inner harmony, to get rid of the obsessive feelings, and even heal emotional pain.

Read on!

Fear And Anxiety As Energy Disorders

Almost everyone on this planet is sometimes accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling of anxiety and/or an incomprehensible fear of something. If these are momentary emotions, they pass quickly and do not cause much harm. But if such emotions are kept in the head steadily, regularly spoil your mood, and exhaust you, then they become a problem. There can be different reasons for that. However, most often the problem is related to your chakras – most likely, either Manipura or Sahasrara. Let’s dive a little deeper into this!

Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra

It is responsible for will power, personal power, motivation, and inner potential.

Manipura is mainly Associated with the digestive system: the stomach, gastrointestinal tract, small intestine, but also with the upper part of the kidneys, adrenal glands, liver, spleen, and spine at the level of the Manipura chakra itself.

Solar Plexus chakra is connected to ring finger and middle finger.

Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra

It is responsible for our connection with the Universe, God, the Higher consciousness. Therefore, when we feel fear it is an indication of the disconnection with the Divine. You see, when we are connected with God, we feel so aligned with our Divine nature that we cannot feel any negative emotions, especially anxiety and fear. What do you have to worry about if the Universe has your back? What do you have to be afraid of if God is surrounding you with His presence?

That is why when we feel anxiety and fear we should focus on reconnecting with the Divine.

The Crown chakra is directly connected with the head, and when there is an imbalance in the Sahasrara chakra, you may experience psychosis and headaches. When the disconnection is very big, people may even have epilepsy and experience the excessive use of psychoactive substances.

Sahasrara is connected to the thumb. Also, it has a connection to the center of the palm.

What Is Mudra?

Mudra” can be translated as “seal”, “mark”, or “gesture”.

Mudras are symbolic gestures often practiced with the hands and fingers.

Connecting the fingers in certain combinations, you can activate the meridians and direct energy throughout the body, restore the flow of energy, and eliminate “breakdowns” in diseased organs.

How to Choose the Right Mudra for Anxiety And Fear?

To understand what mudra will help you, you should be clear about what emotion you’re dealing with and what caused it. Then read the description of the mudras below and determine the most suitable ones for yourself. Note that each mudra has a specific orientation, so study it in detail before performing the gesture as a therapeutic method. Usually, people use 3-5 mudras, each of which should take 7-10 minutes to complete.

5 Mudras For Anxiety And Fear

#1 Abhaya Mudra

Abhaya mudra image

This mudra is also called “a gesture of fearlessness”. It helps to acquire fearlessness, self-confidence, and find inner strength. This mudra strengthens the psyche and helps to take a stable position in life. It represents protection, peace, and the dispelling of fear

The Abhaya mudra encourages the acquisition of inner strength. The gesture symbolizes patronage and benevolence and does not promise the appearance of aggression in a person. On the contrary, it becomes stronger in order to help the weaker ones.

How to perform Abhaya mudra:

  1. Bend your right arm at the elbow and position it so that the palm is parallel to the chest.
  2. Turn the palm outward from yourself, straighten the fingers so that they look up.
  3. Stick out your thumb so that it goes a little apart from the others.

You can perform mudra with one hand or both. You need to keep your hand in the air, do not lower your palm and do not raise it too high.

#2 Shield of Shambhala

Shield of Shambhala Mudra Image

This mudra effectively protects from negative energies and helps to recover your strength. It can also provide vitality, create a calming effect, and bring inner peace.

Shambhala is a legendary country. It is inhabited by enlightened beings. It is connected to the Highest principle, and therefore inaccessible to the forces of evil. If you feel unprotected or oppressed by others, this mudra is designed for you.

How to perform the Shield of Shambhala Mudra?

The hand positions are reversed according the gender.

For women:

  1. Clenched your right hand into a fist and hold your palm facing down, against the Solar Plexus area.
  2. Press your left palm against the right fist. The open palm should always face upwards.

This position is held for five to twenty minutes and used in conjunction with conscious breathing.

For men:

Clench your left hand into a fist and press against the right palm, remembering to hold the hands in the same area.

#3 Anjali Mudra

Anjali Mudra Image

Anjali means “offering,” and in India, this mudra is often accompanied by the word “namaste.”

Without a doubt, Anjali mudra is known to almost everyone, but not everyone knows the true purpose of this gesture.

Anjali mudra helps to find balance, restore harmony, and create energy balance in the body. It also gives a sense of peace and calmness.

If you need to collect your thoughts, Anjali mudra can also provide invaluable help. Also, this position of the hands indicates respect for the surrounding creatures and unity with them. It is considered a greeting.

How to perform Anjali mudra?

  1. Place both hands at the level of the Anahata (Heart) chakra.
  2. Put your hands together so that each finger adjoins the corresponding one on the opposite hand.
  3. Tilt your head slightly and say “Namaste”.

#4 Ardhapataka mudra

Ardhapataka mudra image

Ardhapataka means ‘half-flag’.

The ardhapataka mudra eliminates the hassles due to the opening of the energy centers throughout the body and releases inner energy.

This mudra represents the banks of a flowing river upon which the bridge between spiritual and material can be build.

Through an open palm, the energy flows can be directed to the world, which will supply you with life forces from the outside upon your return. Due to this exchange of energy, you can get rid of your problems, worries, and fears.

How to perform Ardhapataka mudra:

Hold your palms flat. Then bend your ring and pinkie fingers inward while extending your index and pointer fingers. 

#5 Varada mudra

Varada mudra image

This mudra symbolizes the dispensing of boons. It helps to get rid of guilt, tension, toxic emotions, such as anger, resentment, or envy. Also, this gesture helps to clarify thoughts, it gives ease, allowing you to get rid of dissatisfaction with yourself. If you are frustrated with people, Varada mudra can help you understand and forgive them, helping you develop compassion.

How to perform Varada mudra:

  1. Come to a stable sitting posture with an upright spine.
  2. Rest your hands on your knees.
  3. Turn the left palm to face forward and point the left fingers downwards.

Hold Varada Mudra for as long as it feels comfortable, throughout a meditation.

How and when to practice mudras for anxiety and fear?

Find a quiet, deserted place where no one will disturb or distract you.

The most suitable position for concentration is the Lotus position. If this position is uncomfortable for you, then you can take any other sitting position, you can even squat or sit on a chair.

The neck should be shifted slightly back.

In whatever position you are sitting, the main point is a straight back. Try not to slouch.

The optimal time for mudra practice is in the morning, immediately after waking up, and in the evening, before going to bed.

It is very good to chant mantras when performing mudras. Mantra chanting helps to concentrate and calm the nervous system.

The Bottom Line

Mudras for anxiety and fear are designed to lower your stress level and provide the support you are looking for during difficult and uncertain times. By making these mudras for anxiety and fear a part of your daily routine, you will increase your energy level and feel more confident, centered, and protected.

Remember that inner peace creates outer peace. Therefore, by performing mindfulness we are creating a peaceful space not just for ourselves but also for those around us.


Katya Ki is the Founder of SOLANCHA Magazine, a Metaphysical Expert, a Reiki Master, and Human Rights Attorney. She has been studying Eastern metaphysics, cosmology, and esotericism for almost 20 years now. And she's still discovering new knowledge, which is hidden in ancient teachings. During her pilgrimage to the monastery of Saint Catherine in Egypt, she discovered the SOLANCHA System. This is how the SOLANCHA journey started!

Yoga

Bhakti Yoga: 9 Principles To Heart-Centered Life

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Bhakti yoga is one of the main yoga paths that can lead you to full awareness of your true nature. It is the path of devotion that is based on the service to God. The path of Bhakti yoga allows us to use all of our senses, emotions, and actions to express love in our daily interactions and offer it to God. This path involves total dedication and surrender.

In this article, I will introduce you to Bhakti yoga and its 9 principles following which will help you to live a heart-centered life.

What Is Bhakti Yoga?

The Sanskrit word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which can be translated as “selfless service” or “devotion”. Bhakti yoga is often described as “love for love’s sake” and “union through love and devotion.” This yoga path is the path to self-realization, to having an experience of oneness with everything through reconnection with the Divine forces.

Religion sees the manifestation of love for God through strict submission to his higher powers, because (according to almost any religion) God is wiser and more enlightened than any representative of humanity. In Christianity, the highest spiritual knowledge was possessed by Jesus; in Judaism – by Moses, in Islam – by Muhammad. Bhakti yoga has a different approach: there is no need to be afraid of God because God is the highest intelligence that understands and loves everything and everyone. And anyone can communicate with God through unconditional love, kindness, and gratitude.

Thus, we can say that Bhakti yoga is a spiritual path of divine love mysticism, that focuses on an intimate understanding of oneness and harmony of the eternal individual with the Divine and all creatures, is a constant delight. This is the yoga of a personal relationship with God.

As you tap into universal love, you naturally develop a sense of trust that this benevolent, wise universe provides everything you need. This understanding helps you relax so that you can’t help but generate positive energy for others.

9 Principles Of Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti yoga principles Image

One can attain clear and pure love to God through the nine principles of Bhakti yoga.

Principle #1: Sravana

This is the Sanskrit term for listening to sacred texts, sincere praise to God, poems, or stories about God’s virtues and mighty deeds. This principle cannot be practiced in isolation. The devotee must hear the stories from a wise teacher and seek the companionship of holy people.

Sravana is the first and obligatory principle of devotional service that cannot be circumvented. If one does not listen to the descriptions of God, one cannot clearly understand the other methods of devotional service.

This principle teaches us to turn our spiritual practice into sound. It teaches us listening and understanding of what we hear.

The person who demonstrated how this principle works is Maharaja Pariksit. He listened to Srimad Bhagavatam for seven days and attained transcendental realization through practicing the Sravana principle.

Principle #2: Kirtana

This principle refers to the singing or chanting of God’s praises. This is what Ram Dass said about this principle, “When you are in love with God, the very sound of the Name brings great joy.”

Kirtana is considered the main principle that should be practiced in Kali Yuga. However, it is impossible to practice Kirtana without Sravana, since these two principles are related. We can imagine Sravana as the inhale and Kirtana – as the exhale. Exhaling is impossible without inhaling.

The person who demonstrated how this principle works is Sukadeva Goswami. He recited Srimad Bhagawatam and achieved perfection by practicing the Kirtana principle.

Principle #3: Smarana

This principle refers to remembrance of God at all times, or keeping God in the forefront of your consciousness. In Christian terms, Smarana is what the French monk Brother Lawrence meant by “the practice of the presence of God.”

Smarana is a natural result of the Shravana and Kirtanam principles practice.

Smarana requires regular meditations. Therefore, it is very important to learn proper meditation in order to practice Bhakti yoga principles.

A person who has attained perfection through the Smarana method is Prahlada Maharaja.

Principle #4: Padasevana

Padasevana is gaining the opportunity to serve God, after mastering the previous three principles. This Bhakti yoga principle expresses love toward God through service to others.

Lakshmi Devi was the one who demonstrated how this principle works.

Principle #5: Archana

This Bhakti yoga principle refers to the worship of God through such external images as icons or religious pictures or through internal visualizations. The purpose of Archana is to purify the heart through the love of God.

Worshiping takes place under the guidance of the guru and in accordance with the instructions of the Pancharatra.

Prithu Maharaja was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. By performing austerities Prithu became steadfast in spiritual life, worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead 24 hours a day. In due course of time, Prithu Maharaja was able to fix his mind firmly upon the lotus feet of Krishna. Practicing the mystic yoga system, he raised his soul to the top of his skull.

Principle #6: Vandana

This Bhakti principle refers to prayer and prostration (lying face down on the ground with arms outstretched). Vandana is intended to curb self-absorption and self-centeredness through prayers and worship of God with love and devotion.

Akrura was the one who demonstrated how this principle works.

Principle #7: Dasya

This principle focuses on becoming God’s tool by opening yourself to God. In order to do this, you need to meditate on the words of God, caring for people, and helping to clean or repair sacred buildings or places.

By practicing Dasya, you dedicate your every action to God. Your life becomes a service to God, planet, and humanity.

Hanuman was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. A characteristic feature of his dasya bhava (devotional mood to serve) for the Lord, as mentioned in the Hanuman Chalisa, is his keenness in working for Rama.

Principle #8: Sakha-bhava

This Bhakti principle is the attitude of a friend, looking at the master as your friend, and delight in companionship with God

Sakha-bhava is the discovery of deep and sincere feelings for God, based on a friendly attitude and a transition to a higher spiritual level.

Arjuna was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures praise Arjuna for his close relationship with Krishna. Not only is Arjuna known as Krishna’s friend, but Krishna is known as Arjuna’s friend. In Bhagavad Gita (9.29) Krishna tells Arjuna, “I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.”

Principle #9: Atma-nivedana

This principle focuses on the complete self-offering or self-surrender to God.

Bali Maharaja was the one who demonstrated how this principle works. He did not do anything extraordinary. He simply gave to Krishna whatever he possessed. By giving to God, by serving God, by loving God, nobody is a loser, everyone is a gainer. So therefore we should immerse ourselves in this process.

How To Practice Bhakti In Daily Life?

Devotion Image

If you are a beginner on the path of Bhakti Yoga and don’t know what to start your practice with, try to simply keep your focus on Divine love no matter what you’re doing.

However, you should keep in mind that Divine love is different from human love. Human love tends to be grasping and self-serving, whereas Divine love is selfless and giving.

Start with transforming the relationships in your life by offering whatever you do as service to the Divine Light within them. In this way, you deepen your spiritual connection to your own inner light.

The Bhakti Sutras say that by cultivating and deepening virtues, such as non-harming, truthfulness, purity, compassion, faith, and humility, in our worldly relationships, we refine them and make them more harmonious, so they become a clearer reflection of the Divine.

If this is still too much for you, start with simply treating others the way you would like to be treated. When you see that someone is having a hard day, offer to help, say a prayer, or just listen with an open and compassionate heart.

Put some extra love into your relationships with others. Heal and nurture your spiritual connection with others. If someone has hurt you or upset you, try to see the situation through the eyes of this person and offer your forgiveness silently. Learn how to accept the apologies that you’ve never received and forgive people with an open heart.

Find your own ways to serve your family, friends, and community. Let it be natural and spontaneous. Let all your actions be inspired by love, reverence, and devotion.


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8 Essential Types Of Pranayama To Calm Your Mind

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Living in uncertainty in the midst of the worldwide pandemic, most of us experience stress and an increase in anxiety. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. We all are trying to find our ways to cope with this global uncertainty and calm our minds. Yoga and meditation have become more popular than ever. And pranayama, as a mind-calming tool, is increasing its popularity among conscious people. Many people who ever tried pranayama would agree that there’s nothing like indulging in a breathing break to calm the mind and relax the body. In this article, I will share with you 8 essential types of pranayama to calm your mind and decrease your stress level so that you can get back to your daily routine happy and energized and live your life to the fullest despite any challenges you might face!

What Is Pranayama?

Prana‘ is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force”, or “vital principle”. ‘Ayāma‘ can be translated as “the suspension of breath” or “control”. Thus, “pranayama” can be translated as “control over vital energy”.

Usually, pranayama is associated with breathing exercises that have a beneficial effect on the body, saturating it with oxygen. However, yogis use this technique not only for the purpose of improving their physical bodies but also as a way of controlling the flow of prana (vital energy).

According to Patanjali, pranayama is the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. During this period, the time of assimilation of prana increases, the fluctuations of the mind decrease and the perception expands.

You may ask: “how is it possible to reduce the excitation of the brain by holding the breath?” Well, this is due to the fact that nerve impulses in some parts of the body are suspended, and the structure of brain waves is harmonized. Therefore, pranayama is one of the most important elements of Hatha yoga.

How Does It Work?

Pranayama allows you to lengthen the breath, which increases longevity. Thanks to pranayama, we learn how to properly use our lungs.

The fact is that in everyday life, most often only the top of the lungs is involved, which leads to oxygen starvation and accumulation of stagnant air in the lower part of the lungs. The ability to use the entire volume of the lungs allows us to become less exposed to respiratory diseases, increases the level of vital energy, and makes it easier to cope with stress and anxiety.

Pranayama practice affects our Central nervous system. Breathing affects the hypothalamus, which is responsible for emotional responses and the transformation of perceived reality into the experience. It helps us to reach emotional balance, calm our minds, relax the body, and let go of negative emotions. Pranayama practice allows our bodies to release stress and tensions which helps in bringing down hypertension and achieve a balanced state of mind.

8 Types Of Pranayama For Calming Your Mind

Now let me introduce you to different types of pranayama that you can use for calming your mind and getting rid of stress and anxiety.

#1: Nadi Shodhana Pranayama

Pranayama for Beginners Image

The regular practice of Nadi Shodhana offers an energy boost in the body and releases stress and anxiety. It should be practiced in the morning in the fresh air with an empty stomach.

Instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably on flat ground.
  2. Now close the right nostril with your right thumb and breathe from the left nostril. Then close your left nostril with middle and ring finger and breathe out from the right nostril.
  3. Now closing in the left nostril breathe in deeply with the right nostril and then close the right nostril and breathe out deeply with the left nostril. Do the repetition.

#2: Sheetali Pranayama

Benefits Of Sheetkari Pranayama Image

‘Sheeta’ means ‘cooling’, which is exactly the effect of this pranayama. This is one of the most effective types of pranayama for stress, anxiety, and tension relief.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with the back and head erect, hands on the knees in Jnana mudra, and eyes closed.
  2. Make a puckered circle with your mouth then stick out your tongue and curl the edges inwards to form a tube.
  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through the tube as if sucking air through a straw to the count of 4.
  4. Fill up your abdomen and chest to full capacity.
  5. Retain the breath.
  6. Straighten your head and exhale through the nostrils until all air is expelled.
  7. Repeat.

#3: Sheetkari Pranayama

pranayama meditation image

This pranayama is also known as the hissing breath. Similar to Sheetali pranayama, this pranayama is a cooling breath that does wonders for anxiety and depression. This is one of the most effective types of pranayama for mental tranquility, calming yourself before sleep, and relaxation.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, lengthen your spine.
  2. Rest palms on your knees.
  3. Close your eyes, turning awareness inward.
  4. Gently hold teeth together and allow teeth to be exposed.
  5. The tongue may remain flat, or folded against the palate.
  6. Inhale slowly through your teeth, allowing the breath to cool.
  7. At the end of the inhalation draw your tongue inside your mouth.
  8. Exhale through your nose.

Repeat the cycle (steps 6-8) for 9 to 15 rounds.

#4: Anuloma Viloma

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama Image

Anuloma Viloma pranayama is one of the most simple types of pranayama for everyday use. This breathing practice increases the resistance to stress, stabilizes the nervous system, improves mood, profoundly calms the mind, increases the clarity of thought, improves the immune system, lowers stress, and anxiety.

Note that Anuloma Viloma should be practiced on an empty stomach!

Instructions:

  1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
  2. Rest the left palm on the knee in Jnana Mudra (thumb and index fingers touching) to create a pranic circuit that drives energy toward the brain.
  3. Place the right hand in Vishnu Mudra (by tucking the index and middle fingers into the palm). The thumb, ring, and pinky fingers will be more or less extended.
  4. Close your eyes. Inhale comfortably. Close the right nostril with the right thumb. Exhale slowly and completely through the left nostril.
  5. Now for the first round, inhale slowly and comfortably through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring or pinky finger – and then release the thumb from the right nostril.
  6. Exhale slowly and completely through the right nostril. Now breathe in through the right nostril. Close the right with the thumb, release the ring or pinky finger from the left, and exhale through the left.

This completes one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

#5: Ujjayi Pranayama

how to calm your mind image

Ujjayi breathing is a breathing technique employed in a variety of Taoist and Yoga practices. It is sometimes called “the ocean breath”. It is due to the fact that the ujjayi breath is meant to mimic the sound of ocean waves. This rhythmic sound can help you focus your mind and link your movements to the sound of your breath.

This pranayama helps to balance and calm your mind and reach the inner peace similar to a day by the ocean brings.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Relax your body and close your eyes. Let your mouth drop open slightly. Relax your jaw and your tongue.
  2. Inhale and exhale deeply through your mouth. Feel the air of your inhalations passing through your windpipe.
  3. On your exhalations, slightly contract the back of your throat, as you do when you whisper. Softly whisper the sound, “ahhh,” as you exhale. Imagine your breath fogging up a window.
  4. As you become comfortable with your exhalations, maintain the slight constriction of the throat on your inhalations, as well. You will notice your breath making an “ocean” sound, softly moving in and out, like ocean waves.
  5. When you can comfortably control your throat during the inhalations and exhalations, gently close your mouth and begin breathing only through your nose. Keep the same constriction in your throat as you did when your mouth was open. You will continue to hear the “ocean” sound as you breathe through your nose. Direct the breath to travel over your vocal cords, across the back of your throat. Keep your mouth closed, but your lips soft.
  6. Concentrate on the sound of your breath. Allow it to soothe your mind. It should be audible to you, but not so loud that someone standing several feet away can hear it.
  7. Let your inhalations fill your lungs to their fullest expansion. Completely release the air during your exhalations.

Start by practicing Ujjayi pranayama for 5 minutes while you are seated. For deeper meditation, increase your time to 15 minutes.

#6: Sahita Kumbhaka Breath

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We’re often so concerned with our inhales and exhales that we completely forget about the space found between. Kumbhaka is the state of pause, or suspension, between the breaths, and helps us find stillness through focused mindfulness. 

Instructions:

  1. Inhale slowly.
  2. Pause and hold for a few moments at the top of the breath.
  3. Exhale slowly.
  4. Hold for a few moments at the bottom of the breath.
  5. Repeat for five minutes, then return to a normal breath.

This pattern of breathing may feel a bit unnatural at first – after all, we’re typically rushed in our busy lives – but in time you will become more mindful of your breathing patterns (and the stillness found within) and will find that your breath naturally becomes more steady, deep, and intentional with practice.

#7: Samavritti Pranayama

Murcha Pranayama Benefits Image

This pranayama is also known as Balancing Breath or Counting Breath.

When the mind is spinning, counting the breath is one of the most effective ways to slow down. The steady rhythm of the count helps to settle the mind’s fluctuations and reestablish balance. This makes Samavritti Pranayama one of the most powerful types of pranayama for calming your mind.

The most common practice is maintaining a one-to-one ratio. For example, inhaling and exhaling to the count of three. It’s natural to begin at a faster pace and gradually slow down as the mind begins to quiet.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your palms on your lap.
  2. Inhale smoothly as you count to three.
  3. Exhale smoothly as you count to three.  
  4. Continue for three to five minutes, or until you feel mentally and physically settled.

You can practice this type of pranayama any time of day or night, whenever you feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. It will help you to enhance calmness, steadiness, and serenity in body and mind.

Variation:

To enhance the relaxation response, lengthen the exhalations. For example, inhale to the count of four, then exhale to the count of six or eight. 

#8: Humming Bee Breath

6 steps to meditating image

This is one of the best types of pranayama for anxiety relief.

This pranayama is named so because of the humming sound produced at the back of the throat during the practice – like the gentle humming of a bee.

The technique of performing Bhramari Pranayama is quite simple and does not require special training. It can be performed at any time of the day and even after having a meal. Also, it has no age restrictions.

Instructions:

  1. Sit in any position that is comfortable for you with a straight back and relaxed shoulders.
  2. Close the lips, keeping the teeth slightly apart.
  3. Bring the tip of your tongue to the space behind the upper front teeth. Maintain this position throughout the practice, frequently checking to ensure that the jaw remains relaxed.
  4. Close each ears with the thumbs, place the index fingers at the midpoint of the forehead – just above the eyebrows – and reach the middle, ring, and pinky fingers across the eyes so that the tips of these fingers press very gently against the bridge of the nose.  
  5. Take a long, deep breath in through the nostrils, bringing the breath all the way into the belly.
  6. Drop the chin to the chest and begin to exhale slowly, making a steady, low-pitched ‘hmmm’ sound at the back of the throat – like the humming of a bee. Focus on making the sound soft, smooth, and steady.
  7. Keep the body completely still and bring your awareness to the center of the head – to your Third eye chakra – letting the sound fill the head and spread to the body.
  8. At the end of the exhalation, slowly straighten your neck as you inhale again through the nostrils to repeat the process.

This is one breathing cycle. Start mastering this pranayama with 7 breathing cycles and gradually increase to 20-30.

The Bottom Line

Uncertainty can be stressful. Therefore, make sure that you doing everything to help yourself to manage stress and anxiety. Even 10 minutes a day spent on pranayama practice can do miracles for your mental health. Use the above types of pranayama to calm your mind and stay balanced. Remember that only a balanced mind can solve any problem and make the right choices!

Stay safe, stay calm!


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Demystifying Aerial Yoga: The New Yoga Trend

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Aerial yoga has become one of the most Instagrammable wellness trends. This new concept that is quickly becoming popular amongst devoted yogis and beginners alike. What does it mean? What is in store for you, especially when you are self-isolating due to a global pandemic? And which basic exercises can you use for your practice? But first, let us understand this practice.

The History

Aerial yoga dates back to 1991 in New York. Christopher Harrison, a Broadway choreographer and former gymnast came up with the practice. At that time, all he wanted were aerial moves that a group of gymnastic athletes could do when they retired from the competition. However, its success made the practice a hit and spread nationwide.

Today, you can enjoy a fulfilling aerial yoga session at any Crunch gyms for barre practice. Or, enroll for Unnata Aerial Yoga in various studios nationwide. And, if you prefer the privacy of your home, get a hammock and workout videos, and you can start your aerial yoga exercises at home.

What Is Aerial Yoga?

Aerial Yoga Image

Aerial yoga is a hybrid type of yoga that combines traditional yoga poses, Pilates, and dance with the use of a hammock.

Aerial yoga involves using a sling-like hammock made of a silky fabric and hanging from the ceiling. This hammock will support your full body weight as you engage in various poses, using the sling as your assistant. Think of doing headstands, pushups, back-flips, swings, and triceps dips while suspended in the air.

If you are steady, expect to crush your in-shape goals in no time. The yoga is so powerful; trainers describe it as a moderate-intense workout. Hence, it can borrow from ballet, HIIT, and Pilates, to feature in an athletic curriculum for such sports.  Notably, a study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) on women doing aerial yoga found that doing three, 50-minute aerial yoga sessions a week for six weeks can: –

  • Help cut weight by 2.5 pounds on average
  • Reduce body fat by 2%
  • Trim the waist by 1 inch
  • Raise the VO2 max by 11%

Aerial Yoga Benefits

Aerial fitness Image

Despite starting as a high-end workout for the elite in New York, aerial yoga is now easy for anyone to practice. All you need is a hammock and the urge to grow your fitness level. This routine offers the following unique benefits for each participant: –

#1: Burns Fat

Besides the known scientific proof of how aerial yoga can help the participants to lose weight, this yoga has a significant effect on your body fat. The activities you engage in offer a full-body workout for cardio and strength training. Hence, at the end of an hour’s practice, the participant will have engaged every muscle in their body.

#2: Boost Fitness Level

There are at least ten parameters you check when gauging your fitness level. These are: –

  • The plank exercise – Measures the strength and stability of your core
  • The head-turning activity – Checks for neck flexibility
  • The vertical jump test – How high can you jump?
  • Push-ups – Checks for your upper body strength
  • Wall sits – Checks for leg muscle strength and endurance
  • Loop the loop – Confirms posture and shoulder movements
  • Waist to hip ratio – Measures fat concentration around the waist in comparison to the hip area
  • 12-minute run or walk – Measures cardiovascular fitness
  • Resting heart rate – Indicates the robustness of the cardiovascular system-
  • Wet footprint test – Checks for pronation and supination

Aerial yoga can help you complete all the fitness goals as per the above parameters. For example, the training assists you to connect to your core, similar to doing planks. And, when you work out on gravity, you free the tension in the joints and also correct your posture and flexibility.

#3: Beginner-Friendly

Antigravity for beginners image

Christopher Harrison’s gain in using aerial yoga for the first time shows that for sure, anyone can do it. You don’t need any prior training, any specialist sportswear, or any fancy gear to get your body back in shape.

#4: Makes Tough Workouts Fun

Are you practicing for your acrobat’s competitions? Well, your one-hour long session of aerial yoga will be a fun experience, because, this yoga makes it seamless to learn new gymnastic tricks. And, if you are training for your ballet, you can also perform many stunts with little help from the barre. Likewise, if you never used to enjoy your workouts, with aerial yoga, you will be looking forward to your next training session each time.

#5: Excellent for the Abs and Cardio

Aerial yoga is excellent for achieving that ripped stomach you always wanted. Its off-the-ground moves will engage your core, improve your stability, and curve that six-pack abs for a boost in self-confidence. Similarly, any lady struggling with excessive weight in the upper body will experience strengthening of the upper body in about six weeks. In this time, they will notice more defined shoulders and arms. This way, ladies can sculpt and firm the body they always wanted.

#6: Assists in Mastering Yoga Mat Poses

Silk wraps used in aerial yoga offer excellent support for various yoga poses. The wraps give you a feel of how you should turn when on the mat. Similarly, if you struggle with inversions or any other back-breaking poses, opt for the aerial yoga to master such mat poses.

Tips for Practicing Aerial Yoga at Home

aerial hammock image

Now that you have an idea of what to expect from aerial yoga, here are some tips to get you started: –

  • Practice it with an open mind. Allow yourself to explore your body and enjoy the experience.
  • Hydrate your body before practice. Avoid overindulging in alcohol or food. You don’t want to hang upside down, swing, or move up and down with a full stomach.
  • Wear tight-fitting, comfortable clothes to minimize friction. Shorts should reach below the knee. Avoid tops that are too revealing as they can get uncomfortable when doing your flips.
  • Enhance your safety by removing all jewelry before starting your session. Hair clips, piercings, or rings may get caught up in the hammock and cause an accident.
  • If training as a group, use mild perfume on your body.

Conclusion

Aerial yoga is ideal for everyone, including persons living with a disability, nursing an injury, or struggling with obesity. You can start by enlisting at a local studio. Find out about the studio’s policy and prepare well. Then, continue the practice in the comfort of your home. Or better still, watch videos from yoga gurus to learn and start practicing at home.


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