Natural Highs

SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

A Quick Guide To Mudras

Posted by Dorothy under Natural Highs, Philosophy, Wellness1 comment

Mudra is a spiritual or symbolic gesture which helps manipulate prana or energies in our physical body (anamaya kosha), mental body (manomaya kosha) and pranic body (pranamaya kosha). Mudra can also be translated as a seal, or circuit by pass as it helps to create barriers within the body and direct the energy within. These energies, if not manipulated with the intention to retain them within the body will otherwise escape from the body. In scientific terms, mudras start electromagnetic currents within the body which balance various constituting elements and restore health.

There are generally 5 types of mudras:

a) Hasta / Hand
Prana emitted by the hands are redirected into the body with this mudra

b) Mana / Head
These mudras are important in kundalini yoga and some are meditation techniques as the utilise the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and lips

c) Kaya / Postural
Kaya mudras are commonly practised during asanas, with concentration of breath in mind.

d) Bandha / Lock
This is a combination of mudra and bandha

e) Adhara / Perineal
These mudras are usually used to redirect prana from the lower centres of the body to the brain, aiding also in sexual energies.

Most mudras can be done as a combination with asanas and pranayamas or just by itself.

In this posting, the focus will be on hasta / hand mudras as it is the most commonly used gesture. There will be 8 types of mudras and their benefits listed out. One can perform it for about 15 minutes each.

1) Chin Mudra
- join the tips of the thumb and index fingers together, middle , ring and index fingers together and extended
- generates prana flow below the navel to the toes

2) Chinmaya Mudra
-join the tips of the thumb and index fingers together, middle, ring and index fingers to fold towards the palm then keep the elbows close to the body
-prana flows above navel to the throat

3) Adhi/Tse Mudra
-fold thumb towards the palm, then fold all the other fingers to the palm with the thumb under them
-prana flows from the throat to head

4) Merhu danda Mudra
-thumb towards the sky, fold all the other fingers to the palm
-generates prana flow in the spinal column

5) Brahma/Poorna Mudra
-fingers like in adhi/tse mudra
-palm to face up to the sky, knuckles together, gently press towards the lower abdomen
-helps generate prana to the entire body
-helps in fatigue

6) Panchabutha/5 Elements Mudra
Our physical body is made up of 5 elements:
-thumb=fire
-index=air
-middle=space
-ring=ether
-little=water

a) Prithvi/Earth Mudra
-join the tips of the ring and thumb fingers together, extend the other fingers
-
the earth element represent  the solid contents in our body ie: musculoskeletal
-
this mudra helps strengthen the earth element

b) Agni/Fire/Surya Mudra
-fold the ring finger towards the palm, fold the thumb on the ring finger,  the other fingers to stay together and extended
-helps increase heat in the body
-can be of help with indigestion, obesity and hyperthyroid

c) Vayu/Air Mudra
-fold the tip of the index finger to the base of the thumb, keep the thumb on the index finger while extending the other fingers, keeping them together
-
helps to regulate air in the body and encourages movement
-can be of help with gastric, stiff joints, athritis

d) Jala/Water Mudra
-join the tips of the little finger and thumb, extend the other fingers, keeping them together
-maintains moisturisation in the body
-helps with dehyration, hormonal imbalances, urinary problems, sweating problems, increased or decreased production of mucus

e) Akash/Space/Shunya Mudra
-join the tips of the middle finger and thumb, extend the other fingers
-akash mudra is more effective when practised with shunya mudra (fold the tip of the middle finger to the palm, then place thumb on the middle finger, extend the other fingers, keeping the ring and little figners together)
-helps with ear,nose and throat problems or any sicknesses caused by any imbalance to the ear, nose and throat ie vertigo and travel sickness

7) Prana Mudras
Our body consists of 5 koshas and one of it is called the pranayama kosha. Pranayama kosha is also composed of 5 pranasEach of the 5 pranas can be activated with mudras.

a) Prana aka Bhu Mudra
-join the tips of the thumb, ring and little fingers together, extend the others
-benefits the respiratory and cardio system

b) Apana Mudra
-join the tips of the thumb, ring and middle fingers together
-benefits the excretory system

c) Samana Mudra
-join the tips of all fingers
-benefits the digestive system

d) Udana Mudra
-join the tips of all fingers except the second finger to be extended
-benefits the upper chest and throat area

e) Vyana Mudra
-join the tips of the thumb, index and middle fingers, extend the others
-balances the entire body

8) Chakra Balancing  Mudras

a) Mooladhara Chakra-Bhu Mudra
-R hand: join the tips of the thumb, ring and little fingers together, placing the tips of the index and middle fingers to the ground
-L hand: in chin mudra

b) Swadhisthana Chakra-Yoni Miudra
-interlock the 3rd – 5th fingers, join the tips of the thumb and little finger together
-place it at your swadhisthana chakra

c) Manipura Chakra-Matangi Mudra
-interlock all fingers except the 3rd finger to be stretched out
-place it at your manipura chakra

d) Anahata Chakra-Kamala Mudra
-form fingers like a lotus petal joining tips of thumb and little finger
-Place slightly on the right side of the heart as the heart is a sensitive organ

e) Visshudha Chakra-Shunya Mudra/Akash Mudra
- refer to #6(e)
-place on the knees

f) Ajna Chakra-Chin Mudra
-refer to #1
-place on the knees

g) Sahasrara Chakra-Hakini Mudra
-join all the tips of the right fingers and the left then spread them
- place at manipura chakra

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JULY 23, 2013

Homemade Kitchen Beauty

Posted by Dorothy under Community Interests, Interesting Reads, Natural Highs, Wellness1 comment


If you are looking for a cheaper, safer and gentler way to nourish your facial skin, look no further as you can start with your local produce. With only 5 ingredients which are easily attainable in the local Asian supermarkets, you can concoct homemade facial masks to hydrate and moisturise your face and neck. They are cheaper than branded cosmetic products and do not contain added chemicals which will harm your skin in a short or long term period. As a bonus, you do not have to head to a spa for an expensive treat because you can do it regularly in the comfort of your home for 10-20 minutes at a time. The 5 ingredients commonly used are cucumber, yoghurt, turmeric, honey and coconut oil.

a) Cucumber
This cooling vegetable helps soothe sunburnt skin and is used as one of the ingredients to help absorb excess oil from oily skin. It has a large amount of ascorbic acid which can help decrease water retention and reduce puffiness around the eyes. The antioxidants and silica within a cucumber also reduce dark circles.

b) Yoghurt
The content of lactic acid in yoghurt aids in loosening dry skin to help in exfoliation. Whereas zinc cools sunburnt skin and  also acts as a moisturiser. The existence of animal fat in yoghurt helps moisturise but is not suitable for oily skin unless mixed with oatmeal, lemon ore turmeric powder.

c) Turmeric powder
This yellowish looking spice promotes anti-aging, acts as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Therefore it is useful in fighting age spots, acne and helps stimulate blood flow to reduce the formation of wrinkles.

d) Honey
A sweet treat which has good hydration property for dry skin as it traps moisture in skin. Not only that, it soaks up impurities from the pores and ultimately is a form of cleanser. Like turmeric, it has anti-aging properties, is antibacterial, antiseptic and a type of antioxidant.

e) Coconut oil
Because of its oily properties, it is definitely not for oily skin. It is highly absorbent through skin which makes it helpful in replenishing moisture loss for dehydrated skin, hence it helps increase elasticity of age old skin. Acne prone and dermatitis suferrers should try this too.

Here are some recipes or combination of ingredients which you can benefit from:

1) Yoghurt
Types of skin: Dry and sensitive

2) Yoghurt and cucumber
Types of skin: Dry and sensitive
Method: Blend equal parts of yoghurt and peeled cucumber in a food processor until near liquid

3) Yoghurt and coconut oil
Type of skin: Dry
Method: Mix 3 parts of yoghurt to 1 part coconut oil

4) Yoghurt and turmeric powder
Types of skin: Any
Method: Mix 3 parts of yoghurt to 1 part turmeric powder
Be careful not to get it into your eyes or on your clothes

5) Yoghurt and honey
Type of skin: Dry
Method: Mix equal parts in a bowl

6) Honey
Type of skin: Dry

7) Honey, yoghurt and turmeric powder
Types of skin: Any
Method: Mix equal parts of honey and yoghurt and half part of turmeric powder
Be careful not to get it into your eyes or on your clothes

8 ) Turmeric powder
Types of skin: Any
Method: Mix turmeric powder with water until it forms a paste
Be careful not to get it into your eyes or on your clothes

9) Cucumber
Types of skin: Any
Method: Peel cucumber and blend it in a food processor

With all the above recipes, you can choose whichever suits you, then take 20 minutes twice a week, turn on some music and just relax while all the goodness of your homemade face masks feeds your skin.

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FEBRUARY 24, 2013

Unwind And Let Go Before Bedtime

Posted by Dorothy under Natural Highs, Wellnessno responses


This picture was taken at an animal shelter

Shao Yong, a Song Dynasty Chinese philosopher who greatly influenced the development of neo-Confucianism in China once said that ” Yang cannot exist by itself; it can exist only when it is supported by yin. Hence yin is the foundation of yang. Similarly, yin cannot alone manifest itself; it can manifest itself only when accompanied by yang. Hence yang is the expression of yin. Yang controls the origination and enjoys the completion ( of things ) while yin follows the way ( yang produces ) and completes the work of yang “

In simple terms, the above quote clearly states that everything has yin and yang in it. Therefore in this world, everything has a positive and negative side. Especially in daily happenings, people tend to perceive things narrowly. A common examaple will be that if something happens not to one’s desire, he/she will see it as a negative situation and be upset about it. But a person who holds on to the principle of yin and yang will not be easily distraught because he/she knows the existence of a good side to a negative situation. So when things do not seem to be going your way, save yourself from worry and stress by adopting a positive outlook.

Hence, I would like to introduce a bedtime meditation to help one surround themself with positive energy. I hope that this will encourage better sleep and as a result of that, a good start to the morning after.

You can make yourself comfortable by laying on the bed in savasana rather than sittting down in sukhasana. There are 2 parts to this meditation. You can work on them separately and put them together as time goes by or start working on both immediately.

A) Positivism

Reflect on your daily happenings and your feelings towards them. Give thanks to the positive ones. As for the negative experiences, take some time to explore the situation and find the positive side of it. Do not be too judgmental. Then reflect again on all the positive outcomes of your day and be glad to have been alive to experience them.

B) Letting Go

Now comes the process of letting go. I have found the teachings of Ajahn Brahm regarding letting go simple and easy to understand. Therefore the next paragraph is an excerpt from Ajahn Brahm’s lesson; “During meditation, we should not develop a mind which accumulates and holds on to things, but instead we develop a mind which is willing to let go of things, to let go of burdens. Outside of meditation we have to carry the burden of our many duties, like so many heavy suitcases, but within the period of meditation so much baggage is unnecessary. So, in meditation, see how much baggage you can unload. Think of these things as burdens, heavy weights pressing upon you. Then you have the right attitude for letting go of these things, abandoning them freely without looking back. This effort, this attitude, this movement of mind that inclines to giving up, is what will lead you into deep meditation. Even during the beginning stages of this meditation, see if you can generate the energy of renunciation, the willingness to give things away, and little by little the letting go will occur. As you give things away in your mind you will feel much lighter, unburdened and free. In the way of meditation, this abandoning of things occurs in stages, step by step.”
Abandoning the past means not even thinking about your work, your family, your commitments, your responsibilities, your history, the good or bad times you had as a child ..” you abandon all past experiences by showing no interest in them at all. You become someone who has no history during the time that you meditate. You do not even think about where you are from, where you were born, who your parents were or what your upbringing was like. We are freeing ourselves of some of these concerns, perceptions and thoughts that limit us and which stop us from developing the peace born of letting go. So every ‘part’ of your history you finally let go of…..even the memory of what happened to you just a moment ago! In this way, you carry no burden from the past into the present. Whatever has just happened, you are no longer interested in it and you let it go. You do not allow the past to reverberate in your mind.
In this stage of the meditation keep your attention right in the present moment, to the point where you don’t even know what day it is or what time it is-morning? afternoon?–don’t know! All you know is what moment it is-right now! In this way you are just meditating in the moment, not aware of how many minutes have gone or how many remain, not even remembering what day it is.”

Finally, when at times you fall asleep mid meditation, do not feel frustrated. As long as you had a good sleep and wake up feeling great, you have benefited from your practice:)

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