Anyone who has practiced yoga at least once will be familiar with Baby Pose (alternatively known as Child’s Pose). Even if you have never tried any type of yoga, your body knows all about Baby Pose: Essentially, it is a fetal position transposed from side-lying to prone position (face down). Or, if you enjoy Pilates or any type of supine core work, you will have—countless times—hugged your knees into your chest, in order to open and stretch the lower back. When you flip that position 180 degrees, you move toward Baby Pose.
Yoga Mudra is a maja [mah-haa] mudra, i.e., a master mudra. Baby Pose typically is its foundation, but Yoga Mudra could be practiced in a chair; cross-legged; or also from a wide standing squat. Further, Yoga Mudra allows practitioners to discern whether the moving or static version of Yoga Mudra will best suit their needs of the moment: If you desire an activating set for your magnetic field, move the mudra; if you prefer to remain meditative and to harness your intuitive abilities, remain still in the posture.
The hand and body positioning of this mudra works to open the heart; increase circulation through the Heart, Lung, Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Pericardium, and Triple Warmer meridians (all found in the arms); stimulate the chakras of the Upper Triangle (chakras 4-7, plus the Eighth protective chakra); and to open the Third Eye. In all, this master technique aids entry into the higher realms of consciousness, and gives the physical, pranic, and auric bodies a marvelous overhaul.
Regardless of your foundation posture (Baby Pose or some variation of sitting or standing), the hands are clasped behind your back, fingers interlaced, left thumb over right for women (opposite for men). Raise the arms up behind your back as high as possible; if your shoulders are stiff, this will be a small range of motion. Over time—even during the course of a 3-minute practice—you may find that your shoulders free up considerably, allowing for greater movement.
To try the fundamental example of Yoga Mudra, you would begin in Baby Pose (or cross-legged, if your knees reject Baby Pose) with hands interlaced behind you. To move the mudra, inhale as the arms rise up behind your back, exhale back down. If you want to add a bit more oomph, lift your buttocks off of your heels as you inhale and raise the arms; the “top” of the movement is when you have rolled from your forehead to the crown of the head, with the arms raised as far away from your body as possible. Exhale back down to buttocks on heels, forehead on floor, and clasped hands resting on your low back. Repeat for 1-3 minutes.
A standing variation might begin in a wide-legged squat, feet parallel or slightly turned out: bend the knees about 45 degrees. Remain in the half-lowered squat (demi-plie), and inhale forward from the waist as the arms float up behind you. Hold steady with your legs and hips as you exhale to rise back to the start point; knees remain bent throughout the movement.
The rise and fall of the arms clears the magnetic field and helps to expand the aura in your back space. This type of movement breaks up stagnant energy that may keep us stuck in a rut, or focusing too much on past feelings or mistakes.
The still version of Yoga Mudra is perhaps most conducive to Baby Pose, as this position encourages inward attention and enhances feelings of calm and security. Further, as the forehead makes contact with the ground, the Third Eye receives that light pressure, which reminds it to open and activate. If you like, engage the arm movement for 1 minute (inhale up, exhale down); this begins to move prana from the base of the spine to the pituitary gland, i.e., the Third Eye. After about a minute, keep the arms in the raised position, and continue to breath long and deep for another 2-3 minutes.
Yoga Mudra is a rare technique, in that there is a wide array of applications, variations, and modifications. Additionally, I find it to be one of the few mudras that leave me feeling as if I have had a full-length yoga practice (with all of the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits) in a very short time.