Did you know that your hands hold an innate healing power that has been used for centuries for healing various ailments?
You may have seen hands and fingers take an interesting shape or form during yoga practice or meditation. The likes of hands in prayer position before Surya Namaskar or connecting the thumb and index fingers of both hands in meditation? Well, these positions of the hands and fingers are sacred gestures called mudras. Like other practices in yoga, they have purpose and significance.
In this blog, we’ll explore what mudras are, their importance in yoga and meditation, as well as a few of the best mudras for chakra balancing and everyday practice.
What are mudras in yoga?
A mudra is a gesture or seal used in yoga. The practice of these gestures and seals channel the flow of prana life force. There are many mudras. They are categorized as hand hasta mudras, body (kaya) and consciousness (citta) mudras. We commonly use hand mudras.
AYURVEDA AND MUDRAS
Ayurveda explains the body as being made up of five elements; fire, air, space, earth and water. A healthy body has a balance of these elements. Conversely, a dominating or weakening element would cause an imbalance in the body and have a negative impact on one’s health. This would express as illness or disease.
There are five elements and five fingers. Each finger represents an according element. In yoga philosophy, it is said that through each finger, runs the prana for each element. By manipulating the pranas we can increase or decrease the prana to a specific part of the body. That is why a mudra is also referred to as a seal. We are sealing or locking the pranas for a specific purpose.
When a specific mudra is used for a specific purpose, it can help restore the balance of the five elements of the body using prana.
The fingers represent, accordingly, each element:
- The Thumb- represents the fire element
- The Index finger- represents the air element
- The Middle finger- represents the space element
- The Ring finger- represents the earth element
- The Pinky finger- represents the water element
Mudras function as a unifying force to bring together and balance the body through the hands. As we have two hands, so too do we have two sides of the body; solar energy on the right side and lunar energy on the left side. The Gyana Mudra, for example, connects the right solar prana via the Pingala Nadi to the left lunar energy via the Ida Nadi. Mudras work to singularly stimulate solar or lunar energy too.
Apart from balancing energies in the body, mudras are also used in meditation and yoga practice to enhance focus and help direct our awareness inwards. There are many mudras for meditation and yoga, each with its own unique purpose and benefit for the mind, body and spirit. Some of the most widely practiced hand mudras for meditation and yoga include Namaskar Mudra, Chin Mudra, Gyana Mudra and Vayu Mudra. Below, we explore these yoga and meditation mudras in more detail.
‘Mudra’, a Sanskrit word, means a symbolic hand gesture that has the power of producing joy and happiness. It has been proved that regular practice of mudras not only contribute to one’s overall good health but can be used as a preventive measure as well. Our hands define our karma and fingers being the power points, are a link between individual Pranic force and universal cosmic energy.
The position of our hands has the ability to influence energy of our physical, emotional and spiritual body. Mudras help to link the brain to the body, soothe pain, stimulate endorphins, change the mood and increase our vitality.
Mudras have been an integral part of many Hindu and Buddhist rituals. They are used extensively in Yoga, meditation and dance. Across various disciplines it is said that there exist close to 399 mudras. Let’s have a look at the key mudras and how they can benefit us.
GYAN MUDRA: THE GESTURE OF KNOWLEDGE OR WISDOM
To perform this mudra, gently join the tip of thumb and the index finger, while the other three fingers are simply stretched out or free & slightly bent.
You can practice this mudra anytime during the day or while you are performing yoga postures or during meditation.
Gyan mudra helps to increase concentration, memory, reduces sleep disorders, helps to release stress and anger, eases depression and headache.
This mudra has been used extensively for thousands of years by yogis as it brings peace, calm, and spiritual progress.
PRITHVI MUDRA: THE GESTURE OF THE EARTH
Earth element is a vital component of bones, cartilage, skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, internal organs, etc. Practice of Prithvi mudra builds and invigorates these tissues and strengthens the bones. It produces stability, confidence and strength
To practice this mudra, sit down in lotus pose or easy pose to perform this mudra. Gently touch the tip of ring finger and thumb, while the other three are stretched or free.
This, if done 30-45 minutes every day (together or in 3 parts during the day), helps reduce stress, weakness, helps in weight gain, increases blood circulation & Kapha, boosts self-esteem & confidence. Also, it increases determination and directs individuals towards spirituality. It improves digestive power, develops vitality and removes deficiency of vitamins.
PRANA MUDRA: THE GESTURE OF LIFE
To perform this mudra, place the ring finger and little finger at the tip of the thumb gently and keep the other two fingers stretched.
Prana mudra can be used whenever you feel drained or tired, and need an extra boost of energy. This mudra cleanses our aura due to its innate ability to control the subtle energies of our aura. It is considered beneficial or all types of diseases and is also said to impart special power to the eyes. Prana mudra is said to help activate the dormant energy in the body (chi or qui).
SURAYA MUDRA: THE FIRE HAND GESTURE
The fire element is associated with body-temperature and metabolism. Practice of Surya mudra helps to maintain the body-temperature and keeps the metabolism going. It is a very powerful mudra with significant healing capacity. It increases the fire element in the body and reduces the earth element.
It is advised that this mudra should be practiced only in a sitting position and on an empty stomach every day. Fold the ring finger and touch the tip at the base of the thumb while the tip of the thumb presses the second phalanx bone of the ring finger.
If practiced 20 minutes every day, it helps dissolve excess fat in the body, reduce cholesterol, quickens digestion, boosts metabolism & immune system, controls low BP and regulates the thyroid gland.
VARUN MUDRA: THE GESTURE FOR WATER
Water is the biggest element of the human body and that is what this mudra works on. It prevents all diseases which come due to the lack of water or any kind of dryness.
To perform this mudra, sit in an easy pose or simply lie down and slightly touch the tip of the thumb with the little finger. The rest of the fingers can be left freely without any stress.
This mudra when performed anytime during the day helps balance the elements related to the tongue and taste. It eliminates skin diseases, increases blood flow, and reduces muscle aches.
VAYU MUDRA: THE GESTURE OF AIR
This mudra relates to the air element. It is great for the Vata body types and reduces any constrictions in the body due to excess air in the body.
To perform this mudra just fold the index finger, and press the second phalanx bone with the tip of the thumb, and the tip of the index finger should touch the base of the thumb.
When practiced regularly this mudra helps eliminate excess gas/air related problems like gout, flatulence, constipation. It helps in diseases like arthritis, neck pain, trembling in Parkinson’s disease, paralysis and cervical spondylotic.
The above give us an idea of how we have use our hands to control the 5 key elements of our body namely air, water, earth, fire and space. Try these during your practice (where it feels comfortable and easeful to do so), and in mediations, and see the benefit.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. (FAQs)
- What is a mudra?
The term Mudra is derived from two words “mud” and “ra” means to rejoice or to be happy and to give, thus is action which offers delight or extreme joy. This is an indication that the practice of Mudra is concerned with sensory aspect.
- How does it work?
Mudras are a set of subtle physical movements that can change one's mood, attitude, or perspective. And which help to increase concentration and alertness. A mudra can be a simple hand position or it can encompass the entire body in a combination of Asana, Pranayama, Bandha, and visualization methods.
- What is the purpose of a mudra?
Mudras help to link the brain to the body, soothe pain, stimulate endorphins, change the mood and increase our vitality. Mudras have been an integral part of many Hindu and Buddhist rituals. They are used extensively in Yoga, meditation and dance.
- What are the 5 elements of mudras?
The mudra poses for this deck were specifically chosen to awaken and activate the energy of the five elements within us: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space.
- Is there science behind mudras?
Mudras, typically hand gestures used throughout various yoga practices, are effective in ways that go beyond spiritual. Over the past few years, there has been scientific evidence that these energy-channeling movements actually help to increase physical functions of the body.
- Are mudras powerful?
Regular practice of Mudras contributes to the overall good health of an individual. It is a powerful tool for self-care. Each finger contains an individual pranic force that creates a link to the universal cosmic energy.
- How long do you hold mudras?
- Can mudras cure diseases?
Practicing mudras regularly can cure sleeplessness, arthritis, memory loss, heart problems, incurable infections, blood pressure, diabetes and many other ailments. Mudras are universal and can be performed anywhere, anytime and by anybody.
In yoga, mudras are widely used as part of a spiritual practice to awaken particular spiritual states and qualities. One mudra or a combination of mudras can be used as part of a ritual to help us enter meditative state and connect to something greater than ourselves._______________