Strengthening the mind is not done by making it move around as is done to strengthen the body, but by bringing the mind to a halt, bringing it to rest.
~No Ajahn Chah
 
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Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal)

Position yourself comfortably in Siddhasana (Perfect Pose), or with legs crossed, or stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with feet together and a straight spine. Inhale and bring your palms together, resting your thumbs on your sternum. Your hands should be even and pressed together. Make sure your dominant hand (the one with which you write) is not exerting more pressure than the other. If your hands are off-balance, lessen the pressure of your dominant hand slightly without letting the other hand press forward too much.

Bowing your head, draw the crease of your neck towards the top of your head. Lift your sternum into your thumbs and lengthen down along the back of your armpits, making the back of your elbows heavy. Do not strain. Meditate in Anjali Mudra for five minutes.

Some people perform this pose before beginning the Sun Salutation sequence, during which you contemplate the "sun," or light of your life force contained within the heart.

Benefits

Anjali means a gesture of reverence or salutation (from anj, "to honor, celebrate"). Mudra means seal (as in, seals bodily energy and seals relationship with Divine). This pose is great for inducing a meditative state, as well as:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Quieting the mind.
  • Enhancing flexibility in your hands, fingers, wrists and arms.
  • Stimulating multiple pressure points located in your wrists and hands, thereby enhancing your energy.
  • Opening your heart.

Modification

To increase the stretch and widen your sternum and collarbone, press a block or thick book (about 3 to 4 inches thick) between your hands. Spread your fingers and the skin of your palm. Now try to recreate this increased stretch without the block and with your palms together.


Variation

This gesture is usually centered over the heart, but you can also raise the gesture to your forehead or bring it slightly above and in front of the crown of your head.


Beginner's Tip

As you spread your palms against each other, be careful you don't harden the skin. The center of your palms should maintain a hollow, concave shape and your thumbs should remain soft.


Deepen the Pose

This gesture completes a circuit between your hands and heart, bringing harmony to both sides of the brain. The yoga, or subtle heart, is located directly in the center of the chest, between the shoulder blades and below the sternum. See if you can discover the roots of your hands in the yoga heart.


The Benefits of Prenatal Yoga (continued)

  • Influences the baby's position and may help turn it head-down before birth, if necessary.


  • Strengthens and massages the abdomen, which helps stimulate bowel action and the appetite.


  • Boosts energy levels while helping to slow the metabolism to restore calm and focus.


 


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