The Universe of Mudras – Part I

Mudras are gestures of the hands, face and body that promote physical health, psychological balance and spiritual awakening. The Sanskrit word mudra, which is pronounced “mudraa” with the emphasis on the final “a,” can be translated as “gesture, seal, attitude or signature.” Mudras are gestures that evoke psychological and spiritual attitudes, each with its own specific quality or unique signature. The word mudra is derived from two Sanskrit root words: mud, which means “delight, pleasure or enchantment,” and rati, which means “to bring forth.” Mudras therefore bring forth our own inherent delight and enchantment, which are always present and waiting to be awakened.

The use of mudras is most strongly identified with Indian spiritual traditions in which they have been used for more than two thousand years. However, mudras are also found in various religious traditions around the world, including Christianity, where Christ is often depicted using hand gestures. Some mudras are almost universal, and one of the most easily recognized is the prayer position in which the hands are placed together in front of the heart as a symbol of reverence and devotion. Within the Indian spiritual tradition, this gesture is called Anjali mudra.

Origin and Evolution of Mudras

Gestures of the hands, face and body are part of our everyday body language. When the arms are crossed in front of the chest, it sends a message of defensiveness. When the head hangs forward, it may send a message of sadness. Clenched fists are often a sign of anger. Touching the tips of the fingers together suggests a pensive mood and raised eyebrows can show surprise or disbelief. These gestures are a non-verbal language that, often unconsciously, communicates moods, intentions and attitudes.

When gestures of the hands, face or body are consciously used to evoke psychological or spiritual attitudes, they are called mudras. Subtle qualities, such as unity and limitlessness which cannot easily be expressed within the confines of language, find full expression through the use of mudras. In Shamanism (one of the earliest forms of spirituality) sound, movement, and gestures of the hands, face and body are used to invoke the deeper sacred energies of the universe. The shaman transmits these energies through rituals that include the use of gestures to support health, healing and spiritual connection. Various forms of Shamanism are found around the globe, but in India, the impulse to unite with the sacred source of creation evolved into an in-depth science, with the practice of mudras as one of its main expressions.

The rishis, the great sages of ancient India, explored states of deep spiritual union through meditation. Mudras arose naturally as an expression of these meditative states. They were then employed to call forth these meditative experiences, thereby allowing the experiences to be shared with their initiated disciples. The ultimate wisdom revealed during the meditative experiences of the ancient seers is one of unity beyond all dualities. The journey toward unity encompasses a wide range of spiritual qualities, such as discernment, limitlessness, wholeness and compassion. Mudras are vehicles to awaken these individual qualities, leading us toward a global vision of unity.

Each of the deities within Indian art and sculpture embodies a specific spiritual quality. Many of these deities are depicted holding mudras that reflect and communicate these qualities. The many statues and images showing the deities holding mudras highlights their important role within the development of spirituality on the Indian subcontinent. Among the oldest of these images are statues and paintings of the Buddha from approximately 2,000 years ago in the Ellora and Ajanta caves in India.

During the period of Tantra in India, ranging from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries, the use of mudras evolved into the fully developed form we know today. In Tantra, the body is seen as a sacred sanctuary of spirit, a microcosm of the Divine. The transformation of the physical body into a temple of spirit occurs through the performance of elaborate rituals that make use of sacred sounds called mantras, sacred geometrical forms called yantras, and the extensive use of mudras.

Beginning in the eleventh century, the body-oriented approach of Tantra gave birth to the science of Hatha Yoga. This approach to Yoga uses the physical body as a primary vehicle for spiritual development, leading to liberation. The texts of the Hatha Yoga tradition outline the practices of Yoga within a framework of stages or limbs, which include mudra. The importance given to mudras within these texts is highlighted in numerous sutras, including the following from the seventeenth century Hatha Yoga text, the Gheranda Samhita (sutra 100):

“What more shall I tell thee? There is nothing in this world like mudras for giving quick success (along the spiritual path).”

The importance given to mudras in iconography, Tantric ritual, and the texts of Hatha Yoga demonstrates the key role they have played within the overall evolution of Indian spirituality.

Discover more in the Mudra Book!

Joseph Le Page hosts the Ayurveda and Yoga Healing Retreat in South Brazil

From March 2nd to 9th, 2024, Joseph Le Page, Maria Mendola and the Enchated Mountain team invite you for the Ayurveda and Yoga Healing Retreat. This retreat offers you a full week of healing with Ayurvedic treatments, Yoga classes with a focus on healing all facets of your being, nourishing and delicious vegetarian and/or vegan meals and walks along some of the world’s most beautiful coastline.

The site for your retreat is Enchanted Mountain Center, one of the largest Yoga retreat centers in South America. The accommodations are comfortable and there is a natural pool fed by a freshwater spring on the premises. The center has its own Ayurvedic spa offering a complete range of ayurvedic massage and other treatments. Enchanted Mountain is located on one-hundred acres of tropical rainforest with over two hundred varieties of birds including toucans and the beautifully colored surucuá.

The center is in Garopaba, in the south of Brazil, home to ten of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches and mountains draped in rainforest. Your host for the healing retreat is Joseph Le Page, founder of Integrative Yoga Therapy, one of the pioneers in the Yoga Therapy field.

Joseph, along with Maria Shamas, and the English – speaking Enchanted Mountain team, will offer daily healing yoga classes as well as pranayama, meditation, Yoga nidra and restorative Yoga. Each day will offer healing experiences for a specific facet of you being, including healing the physical body, healing the chakras, healing the mind and emotions, and healing into a deeper connection with our spiritual being.

Ayurvedic treatments are included in your retreat – one Shirodhara treatment and two Ayurvedic Massages. You can book additional treatments for your leisure time. You will also experience three walking trips to some of the world’s most beautiful coastlines and have time to lounge on pristine uncrowded beaches as well as secluded waterfalls.


Learn more and enjoy the coupon Brazil2024 with a special dicount until Feb. 15th

More info at:

How Yoga Practice Can Help Smokers Quit

Smoking is a habit that is inextricably linked with one’s emotions, which is why many refer to it as a comfort craving. When the mind feels restless, uneasy, or anxious, reaching for a cigarette stick can be a form of self-soothing, so when the habit turns into an addiction, it isn’t easy to break. However, there’s one activity that isn’t usually top of the list when it comes to smoking cessation but has proven effective as a helpful way to quit smoking: yoga.

Because of the practice’s inherently grounding nature, one can form a physical, mental, and emotional connection with the self that is conducive to recovery. According to the American Osteopathic Association, regular yoga practice can have positive effects on mental clarity, chronic stress patterns, and relaxation of the mind. The benefits of quitting smoking are well-documented, from improved lung capacity and blood circulation to a stronger immune system and lowered risk of cancers, heart conditions, and respiratory problems. But the journey to quitting isn’t linear, and because it affects both the mind and body, smoking cessation should be approached holistically.

Simply getting rid of cigarettes isn’t enough, especially since nicotine stays in your system for at least three days after use. Nicotine tests may detect the byproduct cotinine from hair, saliva, or urine, which typically covers the past three days. You may also need to take a nicotine test to comply with specific smoking cessation programs – you can learn more here on Prilla. If you’re preparing to go on a smoking cessation journey, it’s important to begin easing up as soon as possible. Introducing mindfulness practices like yoga, which involve body awareness, can train the mind to keep cravings at bay.

Harnessing yoga to stop smoking

No mumbo-jumbo here: there’s scientific evidence to prove that yoga is positively linked with quitting smoking. In one study of 30 adult daily smokers, researchers observed a 12.55% reduction in cigarette cravings after a half-hour session of yoga led by a certified Hatha yoga instructor. There’s even evidence that yoga is significantly better than other wellness-centered methods in achieving the goal of smoking cessation.

Another randomized clinical trial revealed that participants in a twice- weekly Iyengar Yoga class had 37% greater odds of achieving abstinence from smoking compared to a control group who attended general wellness classes. There are specific yoga poses one can try to open up the lungs and encourage ease of breathing. The bridge pose Setu Bandhasana takes your hips high into the air and stretches various parts of the body, improving oxygen circulation.

On the other hand, the alternate nostril breathing technique, Nadi Shodhana, is said to clear blocked energy channels and help smokers become more aware of any breathing problems they may have. Yoga-based alternate breathing for one month significantly improved cardiorespiratory parameters for 100 healthy young adults.

Challenges and Tips for Freshly Graduated Yoga Teachers

The Universe of Yoga, its challenges and opportunities for those who seek to earn a living from this millennial philosophy

Starting a career as a yoga teacher can be challenging. From security to putting into practice everything you’ve learned, to financial sustainability. In this article, you will find tips and explore the trends of the universe of Yoga, in addition to meeting Bárbara and Amalia, two Yoga instructors who share a little bit about their journeys. Their perspectives are interesting because Amalia has been a Yoga teacher for 20 years while Barbara is a new graduate.

Challenges of new Yoga teachers

The Key to Yoga Teacher Self-Confidence: Practice and Everything Will Come

It is normal to feel insecure when teaching at first. Sometimes, all you need to do is remember that your background has given you the skills you need, and trust in yourself. At other times, it is necessary to have adequate support, your “bibles” where you can find reliable and accurate information whenever necessary. 

But the main thing, according to Yoga teacher Amalia Iatarola Furtado, with 20 years of experience, is practice. “I had always had a very deep and regular Yoga practice when I became a teacher. In this respect, it was easy to start teaching, as I had a great base. When you are familiar with Yoga, you finish your training and the paths open up, things happen. You need to have a long-term personal practice”, says the instructor, who took her first Yoga training in 2003.

There are also those people who seek Yoga training to increase their overall knowledge of Yoga, and life calls them to become teachers. This was the case of Barbara Viegas da Silveira, who graduated in 2021. “When I did my training, my intention was not really to be an instructor. It turned out that this happened naturally, due to the directions my life took. I did not imagine myself teaching Yoga, but when I gave my first class, still in training, I realized how fulfilling it was to share my truth and perception of Yoga,” she says.

“My first classes were challenging. It was a mixture of fear, anxiety and nervousness, first because I was doing something new and second because I didn’t know if I would be able to reach people the way I wanted. I was afraid to make adjustments on the students, or to offer techniques beyond the level of the audience I had. I think that was my biggest challenge, knowing how to modify the class according to the needs of my group.” 

“There was only one way for me to overcome my fears and challenges: giving lots of classes. I carefully observed all of the fears and emotions that came up while teaching, and took every opportunity to overcome the fears and strengthen the positive points of each class. Anyway, the main tip is: practice regularly, hone your skills and remember that experience is the best teacher. When you are in the position of a practitioner, you understand the student’s universe better.”

How to build a base of Yoga students?

Another challenge at the beginning of a Yoga teacher’s career is to consolidate their student base. Therefore, it is necessary to act on different fronts, such as marketing, partnerships and social media. “I believe that when we are living our Dharma, magic happens. In my life, everything happened through word of mouth, because when I graduated, social media on the internet didn’t exist yet. And while the times have changed dramatically, and social media is everywhere, I believe that word of mouth is still the strongest marketing”, jokes teacher Amália.

Tips: Invest time in personal marketing, promoting yourself on social media, handing out flyers, and even offering free classes to gain visibility. Take every opportunity to share your knowledge and show your passion for yoga. Remember that your students are your biggest business card. If they are happy and satisfied with their classes, they will certainly invite others to try it out.

Can being a Yoga teacher be financially sustainable?

The financial aspect can also be a challenge. It’s important to establish a fair pricing structure that reflects your experience level and the demands of the local market, considering offering class packages or discounts to attract more students. Teacher for 20 years, Amália believes that by aligning herself with the philosophy of Yoga, the paths open to financial prosperity. “I always generated income with Yoga, but when Yoga really became my life, not just as a profession, but as a path and journey, abundance came to me naturally.”

New yoga teacher Bárbara began her career in a completely different environment, post-COVID, with a completely different set of challenges. Almost from the beginning of her Yoga teacher career, she had to learn to give classes online, involving different fears and different challenges, but her persistence has paid ooo. “Today my income is divided into Yoga and other services. I feel that living 100% from Yoga is challenging, but it is very possible! It takes great dedication, as in everything in life, and online is a great tool for that, being able to connect with people who are in different places”, she says.

Material tips to prepare your Yoga class

Indicated by the instructors, we list here the best materials to prepare your Yoga class, gathering knowledge at the physical, subtle, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.

Yoga Toolbox for Teachers and Students

“I was blown away by the depth of the material. The Yoga Toolbox is a precious, valuable material, with an absurd amount of knowledge”, says Amália.

Asana and Mudra  Card Decks

“In the beginning, I used decks a lot. I took the cards to class to help me remember the sequences. I began planning my classes using the Yoga Toolbox and then moved on to the decks. Today, I use the Toolbox a lot for specific questions, about variations, a muscle group or some benefit or contraindication of an asana”, says Barbara.


The History of Yoga – Part III

Joseph Le Page is one of the Yoga Therapists in the online Summit How Yoga Heals by Soma Yoga Institute

The Use of Hand Gestures, Mudras, in Yoga Therapy is the workshop Joseph Le Page is presenting at the FREE Virtual Yoga Summit and CE series, How Yoga Heals on February 3 at 9:30am-11:00am PST  (California) /12:30pm-2:00pm (New York) / 5:30pm -7:00pm (London).

“This workshop will present and practice mudras for a wide range of therapeutic applications including mudras for specific health conditions, mudras for directing the breath to specific areas of the body for healing, mudras for balancing the autonomic nervous system, mudras for cultivating healing qualities and mudras for spiritual healing. All participants will receive a ten-page handout with detailed information on the material presented.”

About Joseph Le Page

Joseph Le Page is the founder of Integrative Yoga and Integrative Yoga Therapy, a pioneer in the field of Yoga therapy training programs since 1993. He is co-founder and director of the Enchanted Mountain Yoga Center in Santa Catarina, Brazil, one of the largest Yoga retreat centers in South America. He is the co-author of the book Yoga Toolbox for Teacher and Students, one of the most widely used materials in teacher training programs in the US and in Brazil, published by Integrative Yoga. He is also co-author of the book Mudras for Healing and Transformation, also published by Integrative Yoga. Joseph’s upcoming book, together with Karin Silberberg, is Pranayama for Healing and Transformation. Joseph is currently on the faculty of Inner Peace Yoga Therapy.

How Yoga Heals

To get to know more and join the FREE Virtual Yoga Summit and CE series, How Yoga Heals, featuring an incredible lineup of C-IAYT Yoga Therapists and Yoga Professionals, click here!

Open to anyone interested in yoga, including students, teachers and wellness professionals from all disciplines.

This content-rich event includes transformational perspectives, real-life stories, practices, and cutting-edge research, all of which are designed to benefit yoga teachers, medical professionals, mental health advocates, and anyone looking to learn more about the healing power of yoga.

Yoga teachers get 16 hours of FREE Continuing Education credits available through Yoga Alliance.

Join us from February 2-14, 2023, each day from 9:30am-11:00am PST (California) | 12:30pm-2:00pm EST (New York) | 5:30pm-7:00pm (London). Recordings will also be available for those who are unable to attend live.


Samkhya - Integrative Yoga Therapy

The History of Yoga – part II

Continued on the History of Yoga. Follow below.

  • Samkhya – A philosophy originating approximately 3,000 years ago that influenced all other Yoga traditions that came after. Jnana Yoga.

Spiritual path as a science of describing the nature of the universe and mind

  • This philosophy sees itself as the mother of science;
  • The concepts of avidya, hope and suffering and kaivalya, enlightenment as salvation appear for the first time;
    The aim was to describe all components of the Universe with spirit as the most fundamental;
  • The original Samkhya makes no reference to God because the aim is scientific and not religious investigation;
  • Samkhya declares that the Universe is a school where we can discover our true nature with spirit;
  • Pure spirit, purusha, is seen as distinct from matter, prakriti;
  • Every Yoga that came after is based on this philosophy in one way or another;
  • The methodology of Samkhya is contemplation on the spirit and discernment between matter and spirit.

What keeps a person attached to matter is the activity of the three gunas – rajas, tamas and sattva.

Recognition of the real Being as the purpose of life / The personality as a matrix of conditioning that produces suffering / reincarnation as the destiny of those who do not recognize the real being

  • Within samkhya philosophy, the world exists as a school for recognizing the Real Self;
  • Personality, and all the likes and dislikes associated with it, are considered conditionings that do not reflect the real Self;
  • Suffering serves to warn us that we are moving away from our true nature;
  • Experiences, peace and harmony that bloom from the inside out, indicate to us that we are approaching the real Being;
  • As long as the purusha is not recognized, we continue in a cycle of endless births.


The Nature of the world under the influence of the gunas

  • Because of the polarity of the gunas, the material world by itself does not offer happiness, but creates suffering and limitation.
  • Rajas is an energy of desire and expansion related to the search for happiness and satisfaction in the present and future;
  • Rajas have value when channeled to the spiritual path;
  • Tamas is an energy of inertia, conservatism and stagnation that tends to focus on the past;
  • Tamas energy is needed to create ground for the spiritual journey;
  • Sattva is an energy of balance that focuses on the present moment. Associated with positive emotions such as love and compassion, lightness and openness of heart, Sattva is a gateway to the experience of enlightenment;
  • Because it’s a rollercoaster of ups and downs, the only way to avoid getting sick is to get out of the game of trying to find happiness in matter and find it within yourself.

The Art and Science of Yoga Therapy and the Five Koshas

On February 26th, Joseph Le Page will be presenting the twelve-week course, the Art and Science of Yoga Therapy, for Inner Peace Yoga Therapy.

“Within this course, we use the model of the Five Koshas, the five dimensions of our being as a framework for the theory and practice of Yoga Therapy. The objective of the model of the Five Koshas is essentially spiritual; to provide a clear path to union with our true Being.

Along this journey however, as we traverse each of the koshas, we gain an in-depth awareness of each of the dimensions of our being, allowing us to cultivate integration and harmony which supports our overall health and the process of healing. Along this journey of awareness, we also cultivate health and healing which both support our journey and reflect our growing approximation to the source and essence of health.

Through an in depth understanding of the model of the Five Koshas, we create a foundation for the Art and Science of Yoga Therapy, serving three main functions:

  • The Koshas form a framework for healing at each level of our being; each facet of our lives requires consciousness, care, and evolution cultivated through Yoga practices specifically designed for each person’s individual needs.
  • Secondly, the koshas function as a framework for developing competencies at each level of being, allowing the Yoga Therapist to master an understanding of health at physical, energetic, psycho-emotional, intuitive, and spiritual levels.
  • The third function of the koshas is to remind that that the purpose of all of Yoga, including Yoga Therapy is the recognition of our true Being, whose very nature is wholeness and peace, and that health and healing are ultimately reflections of our union with the one source energy.

On the video, we review each of the koshas briefly and meditate on them!

Get to know more about the Art and Science of Yogatherapy!


A Yoga New Year’s Resolution

Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1.1 is “atha yoga anuśāsanam”

Therefore, (when the student is prepared), instruction in Yoga (begins).

The decision to begin the Yoga journey is a crossroads where we choose consciously between ways of doing and being that cause limitation and suffering and the journey of Yoga that leads to greater joy, equanimity and clarity.

Along this journey, we also open to receive enhanced levels of health and vitality that are an essential support for our journey.

This crossroads is even more important as we enter the New Year which is traditionally a time for affirmations, resolutions and new beginnings.

In order to create positive affirmations for the new year, you will explore four different facets of daily living.

Within each one, you will reflect on your attitudes and tendencies before you begin practicing Yoga, and how they have evolved since Yoga practice began.

With this clarity, you will then create an intention for further growth and transformation in the new year.

Watch the video and let’s meditate together! 

Happy 2023!

Joseph Le Page and Integrative Yoga Therapy Team

Let’s Meditate!