‘Gesture of the Backbone’
Our general encounters with mudras are typically low just from attending open public yoga classes. Few of us, and that extends even to the teachers, would even realise that there’s a mudra for just about every common condition.
One of the most widespread complaint of our time, a physical ailment that troubles many of modern society is back pain, especially the lower back. Our spinal health has deteriorated over the decades from poor posture and bad sitting habits, and as a result we find ourselves suffering from discomfort in the area. Unfortunately, it isn’t a condition that can be cured, however its pain can certainly can be reduced and managed so it isn’t quite as debilitating.
In Yoga Therapy, we explore ways to help the symptoms of pain by looking at the available yogic tools in our repertoire and mudras are one of options that we can use on its own or in combination with other tools.
‘Anudandi’ translates as ‘spine’ in Sanskrit and its core quality is to offer back pain relief. When executing this gesture, breath and awareness are directed to the entire back – a calm, rhythmic, wavelike motion is felt across the spine, flowing up and down, energetically, to encourage tension release in the muscles and bring a greater sense of comfort.
1. Sitting cross-legged is a possible option, however if there’s discomfort in the back, it’s best to lie down instead, with knees bent and feet on the ground so that the spine is place neutral across the mat.
2. Wrap fingers around the thumb to create a fist. Extend the little fingers and touch the tips of them together.
3. Rest heel of palms on the lower ribs with little fingers running across the top of the belly, allowing elbows to sit spaciously by the side of the body.
4. With eyes closed, bring attention inwards and begin to shift your focus to the breath. Try to breath from the nose and activate ‘Ujjayi breath’ if it’s in your practice. Otherwise, just breathing naturally and regardless of which breath you go for, you want it to be deep and steady with a soft quality, nothing forced or exerted.
5. Inhale to feel a nourishing sensation rise from base to top of your spine. Exhale to feel a sensation of letting go from top to base of the spine. Allowing your back to soften into the ground with each breath out.
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Hongyi the yogi
Full-time yoga teacher & trainee yoga therapist in London. Eager to share, eager to learn!