Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Leslie Schipper3
Mudras: Yoga of the Hands
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class or practiced meditation, you’ve probably been asked to practice a Mudra. In Sanskrit, Mudra means “seal” and is a sacred hand gesture (or body position) practiced to help cultivate a specific state of mind. There are thousands of Mudras, all representing a certain quality like compassion, vitality, concentration, or confidence. It is believed that by practicing these hand gestures, you awaken the seeds of these states within you.
According to Vedic tradition, the fingers represent the 5 basic elements that make up the human body. It is believed that when we position the fingers in various postures known as mudras, we regulate the flow of vital elements in the body, promoting mind-body balance. Here are three mudras you can experiment with in your own yoga practice or meditation. Tune into how and if they affect your state.
Anjali Mudra: Anjali is one of the most commonly practiced and revered mudra. Bringing your hands together at the center of your heart connects the left and right brain hemisphere and represents the coming together of the dualities of nature- (sun and moon, masculine and feminine etc) where these natures come into balance. It symbolizes composure, centering our energy, offering and opening to our awareness, and coming back to our hearts and true nature. Anjali positions us at the core of our being, and is a timeless and universal gesture of honoring and celebrating your relationship with the divine.
Prana Mudra: Prana mudra is performed by gently joining your thumb with your little finger and ring, while keeping the middle and fourth fingers apart and extended. This mudra promotes the flow of vital energy (prana) throughout the body. It is believed to increase vitality, invigorate the immune system and even slow the aging process! This mudra helps to activate the dormant energy in the body. Think of this practice as a recharge for the body! Try this mudra when you are feeling fatigue and tired.
Gyan Mudra: Gyan comes from the sanksrit word, “jnana” which means pure knowledge or wisdom. Many depictions of the Buddha have him resting with his hands in gyan mudra, which is said to sharpen clarity, concentration and the ability to grasp new concepts. This mudra is used in yogic meditation and raises the element of vayu or air in the body. The idea behind raising the air element is to increase lightness, or sattva (light, bliss, goodness) and make it easier to connect to the higher levels of consciousness and reach spiritual enlightenment.
The great thing about mudras is they can be performed anywhere. Whether you are sitting at your desk at work, reading a book or taking a yoga class, implementing mudras into your day is simple and easy. Practice different mudras and observe their effect. Do you already practice a particular mudra? Has one been beneficial to your practice? Share your thoughts and experiences!