It’s likely that at some point over the next few days, you will optimistically consider some sort of “new year’s resolution.” Many of us know, however, that this annual expectation has strong potential to backfire: if there’s something I already know I should be doing (and am consistently not doing), why would starting five days from now magically make it more attainable?
For those of you who are as pessimistic about these things as I am, you might join me in replacing your new year’s resolution with simple “habit stacking.” It’s a popular technique that takes advantage of whatever routines we do have, on this day. The author James Clear gives us lots of examples; for instance, if I already make my bed in the mornings but want to start reading before bed rather than looking at my phone, I can place a book on my pillow after making the bed. Now my new habit is right there waiting for me every night. Easy.
As students of hatha yoga, we can stack a mudra, or traditional hand gesture, onto our current routines. Mudras are often done while sitting in meditation. But you don’t need to use them that way. Take a look at the image below (or click on it to read details) and try adding apana vayu mudra when you take your walks, listen to music, or lie down for bed. Form the mudra by tucking your index finger next to the base of your thumb. Keeping the pinky finger extended, touch the pads of your middle, ring, and thumbs together. You can do this with one or both hands for 2-20 minutes, up to 45 minutes daily--see what you notice. Even modern science concedes that mudras have measurable electrophotonic impact and therapeutic application when done for several minutes several times a week!
Apana vayu mudra is a great choice* for this time of year, as it:
· re-balances energy to help cleanse and de-tox the circulatory and digestive systems
· activates the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system
· helps release pent-up feelings and heaviness in the body
· supports restful sleep
Do let me know if you discover anything interesting in your new year practice of this or any other Hatha Habit. Happy 2023, Yogis!
*If you are pregnant don't do this mudra, since it's considered to move "downward" energetically.