In yoga practice, palms are joined together at the heart, symbolizing acknowledgement of the light we carry deep inside of us, the light of the eternal flame. In being aware of this light, and present when we hold this gesture, we both recognize the value and honor of seeing both ourselves and others as something beyond appearance & position in society. By joining our hands at the heart we humble our egos and connect to something more intimate, our source. Many traditions join the hands at the palms to pray. Yoga is a tradition that embraces all traditions, all people as One Human Race.
Our hands play an important role in everything we do. As extensions of ourselves, they respond to our thoughts and desires through passionate articulation (I think of my Italian Daddy here!), they physically give and receive, and frankly, do a lot of work that often goes by unnoticed.
By cupping the hands together, we can receive nourishment. Filling cupped hands with water to say..splash on the face..settles the water into a heart-shaped pond in the palms (I noticed this while pregnant with saki & happened to see hearts everywhere!). Observing this can bring us immediately into the moment & suspend the constant stream of thoughts into gratitude for the hands, for the water, and for this life.
Cupped hands are also used as a form of measurement in many of the less industrialized countries.
Sri Swami Mayatitinanda, affectionately called Mother Maya, talks about the importance of quantity along with quality. The cupped hands, or Anjali, equal approximately 1 cup. Your cupped hands reflect the size of your stomach. This information was a profound revelation on my path to good digestion and health. Having been taught to be a ‘good girl’ and clean my plate was poison to my system. American restaurants serve twice the amount of food per plate than what we can properly digest (sometimes three times the amount!!) Too much food stops up the digestive tract creating an undo amount of stress not only on the stomach and colon, but on the liver and spleen as well. Toxins build up in the body (called Ama in Ayurveda) & as a result we feel tired, bloated, or grumpy…and get constipation or diarrhea or break out in acne. Yuck.
Every morning I prepare some lip-smacking oatmeal that if Tony the Tiger was still around (shoot maybe he still is ??), he would say THEY’RE GRRRREAT! Food as medicine is all about quality along with quantity. It is recognizing how active you are going to be and how much your body can digest per sitting. (and yes, we must sit down when we eat moms…) It takes your stomach about 20 minutes to send the info to your brain that you are full. By noticing how many handfuls of food you need to fill your belly, you can get bowls of that size and not worry about it. Eat what is in the bowl and wait that 20 minutes. If you are still hungry, eat a bit more! Ayurveda says that we should fill our bellies with 1/2 food, 1/4 liquid and leave 1/4 air for room to digest.
When I make oats for Saki & I before she goes to school I measure a handful of oats for each of us (one Anjali). Rolled oats, not the quick ones, are full of nutrition and expand when cooked. When I add the herbs and the nuts and the dried fruits this meal is a perfect size for us. We are not overstuffed and there is no waste! As a conscious mama this delicate balance is often sought after in my kitchen experiments! Cooking, like yoga, is all about practice!
Bootysattva’s Herbal Oatmeal:
Recipe soon to come 🙂 (I have run out of time & must go practice yoga…)
**Please check out Path of Practice by Bri Maya Tiwari for a wonderful book on our relationship to food, breath and sound through the Ayurvedic and Vedic tradition. (This is Sri Swamini Mayatitananda before her name changed)