Each morning here in India we’re privileged to meditate in front of this beautiful scene in amazing surroundings. Hearing the world wake up as we meditate is a fantastic way to greet the day, and we’ve been exploring different ways of practicing meditation and pranayama.
‘Mudra’ means gesture or seal. Essentially it is a way to direct energy and enhance our pranayama, meditation or asana practice. There are countless mudras, and while well-known mudras like Anjali Mudra use the hands, there are actually many more which use different parts of the body. By adding Mudras to your daily practice, this can help to take your experience of Yoga deeper than simply ‘performing’ postures on the mat.
Shambhavi Mudra consists of gazing at the eyebrow centre or ‘third eye’. This ‘third eye’ is the eye which is said to look inward, and is the place responsible for accessing our intuition. If you’re experiencing an especially busy Christmas time and expending energy on other people’s needs, then this mudra can help to cultivate a much-needed sense of connecting to yourself for a few moments.
Even though Christmas is about spending time with family and friends and looking after each other, it can often become all too chaotic as the big day approaches. If your life is one big to-do list at the moment and things are getting on top of you, then this mudra is also very helpful in gaining clarity, so you can release yourself from that stressed-out headspace. The act of cultivating eka grata or ‘one pointedness’ helps to focus the mind if it is particularly scattered, and by practicing eka grata, the first step towards meditation – dharana (‘concentration of the mind’) – is more accessible. A wandering mind can be quietened a little quicker by practicing Shambhavi Mudra with your meditation session.
We know our endocrine system and hormones play a huge role in our wellbeing, and having our hormones in balance is essential for maintaining balanced bodily systems, including energy, mood levels and the ability to regenerate cells. The eyebrow centre is the home of one of the most important hormone glands – the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland –also known as ‘the master gland’ – is about the size of a pea and weighs around 0.5g on average. It governs the rest of the hormonal glands in the body and is responsible for helping with the body’s growth, regulating women’s monthly cycle, regulating body temperature, metabolism and the production of hormones that effect the muscles and kidneys to name just a few. The pineal gland works closely with the pituitary gland, and this is the part that might help you out the most this Christmas time….
The pineal gland secretes melatonin, which is responsible for our sleep/wake cycle or ‘circadian rhythms’. If this is party-season for you, then you might want to start practicing Shambhavi Mudra in the mornings…. Much of the world is plunged into darkness for long hours in the Winter, which would usually mean our endocrine system is providing plenty of sleep-inducing hormones – but our constant focus on tv, phone and computer screens means the production of melatonin isn’t so efficient. Without this regular and balanced secretion of melatonin, we’re susceptible to insomnia, irregular sleeping patterns, fatigue and interrupted sleep if we get any at all.
So if you’re looking to gain some clarity, peace, greater connection to your intuition, or regular sleep, begin including Shambhavi Mudra in your morning practice by either opening or closing your eyes (I personally choose to close the eyes as it helps me focus more internally…. And yes I’m easily distracted) and taking the gaze to the point between the eyebrows. To enhance concentration or physical sensation of this mudra, visualise your breath moving flowing in and out through this point as it takes you deeper into stillness.
Lots of love….