Mudra is a Sanskrit word for gesture, symbol, or expression. A Mudra in yoga is usually made by the positioning of our fingers and thumb. This creates certain neuronal connections, to impact the flow of subtle energies and balance out the elements within us. Mudras are also used in Indian classical dances to represent and project particular moods, attitudes and feelings. Hasta Mudra (hand gestures/hand yoga) is meant to ensure that health “remains in our hands” !
Minute pressure on the pulse centres of different parts of our hands, triggering multiple healing processes within the body part associated with it. The Hasta Mudra channelizes pranic energy in a way that the waves of the ocean generate tidal energy or a short circuit that is used to boost electrical impulses. Nadis and chakras radiate Pranic energy.
Mudras help the practitioner to redirect energy within and also create barriers to prevent the escape of prana. Hasta Mudras stimulate the brain stem and influence unconscious reflexes to tap the potential of our mind, body, and prana.
The human hand has as many as 100,000 nerves. Each fingertip has 3,000 nerve receptors. Each part of the hand is linked to different parts of the brain. When we apply pressure through Hasta Mudras, pressure points are activated. This leads to changes in brain patterns and unleashes the dynamic potential of the body-mind-energy circuit.
The physical body (and the universe) consists of 5 elements- Fire, Air, Ether or Sky, Earth, and Water. A Mudra connects the brain to the body and as a consequence, life force energy or prana begins to flow through. The four fingers and the single thumb represent these building blocks of the universe known as the “Panchamahabhutas.” Reflexes can be stimulated by actions like pressing the hand, curling, touching and pointing different fingers. According to the philosophy of Hasta Mudra, diseases are blockages or limitations in the balance of the 5 elements. The four fingers and the thumb correspond to each of these elements:
Some fundamental Mudras are discussed below.
This is the Mudra of wisdom and knowledge. The individual consciousness (microcosm or Atman) is represented by the first finger, while the thumb symbolizes higher consciousness (macrocosm/Brahman). The ultimate goal of a practitioner, the union of the self with the cosmic supreme being, is embodied in this mudra.
For better results, it is advisable to do the Prana Mudra after doing the Gyan Mudra.
This is one of the most common mudras used in meditation. It is exactly like the Gyan Mudra except that the palms are facing upwards. Chin Mudra clears the mind and calms the senses.
It also promotes concentration and eases mental tension. It can be used to cure insomnia, high blood pressure, and depression.
This is a common hand gesture used to alternate breathing through the nostrils. It is used for Nadi Shodhana pranayama. (also called Anuloma Viloma or Alternate Nostril Breathing. )
This balances the water element in the body. It also prevents diseases due to lack of water. It has no specific time duration and can be practised as per your convenience. But those with asthma or respiratory disease should do this mudra only for a short while.
This Mudra is excellent for activating the thyroid gland. It should be practiced twice in a day for 5-15 minutes.
This Mudra can be practiced for 20-30 minutes daily. It is perfect for increasing heat in the body. Raise your intake of milk, water, fruit and fruit juices as well as clarified butter if performing this Hasta Mudra regularly.
This hand posture is commonly used during the opening and closing practice of yoga and other postures as well. Anjali, in Sanskrit means, “to offer” or “to salute”, and the term mudra means “seal”.
This mudra is also famously known as the Aakash-vardhak mudra. The Aakash mudra increases the Aakash element (space) within the body.
Ensure that the tip of the middle finger touches the top of the thumb and the remaining fingers are kept at ease, but straight.
Clasp the hands in front of your chest and apply pressure as you pull on both hands outwards.
Kali represents purification and transformation.
Through the practice of this Mudra, air-related diseases like Sciatica and Gout are eliminated.
Use this Mudra to regain bodily stability and combat obesity and body weakness.
Mudras are a subtle but powerful practice. Utilize this ancient wisdom and choose mudras which address your physical concerns and do them regularly for a length of time with concentration and faith and then assess if they are benefitting you.
Good luck with your practice, as you stay on your yogic path.