A mudra is an energy seal. It is a gesture or posture that allows us to control the flow of our energy or life force (prana). There are 25 mudras in Hatha Yoga. Mudras are not restricted to hand gestures, but can be done with the eyes, body postures or take the form of cleansing rituals. The gestures themselves are symbolic of various states of consciousness. However, certain gestures can lead to the state of consciousness that they represent. So, practising a mudra can alter your state of consciousness.
Most people know about chakras these days. They are fashionable! Chakras are energy centres in the body – much like the electricity sub-stations found scattered around any city.
However, everybody has 72000 nadis. These are electric or pranic currents that run from the crown of the head to the toes of the feet and the tips of the fingers. One could compare the nadis to the power lines that supply our houses with electricity. (The major crossings of the nadis form the chakras).
Mudras have an intense effect on the nadis. Each finger represents an element, a chakra, a planet, a body organ and an emotion. Each finger is also the ending of a meridian. Mudras can be enhanced with breathing exercises, meditation, mantras, colour, affirmations and music.
Mudras work their miracles by tapping and tweaking the biological map in our brains (called homonculus man), reaching deep within our nervous system through the external switches of our fingers.
Hand Mudras (to seal and direct energy flow)
Our body is composed of five elements - Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether/Space. The five fingers of our hand represent these five basic elements with each one relating to a particular element.
Modern science agrees that different kinds of electromagnetic waves are transmitted from our five different fingertips.
Ancient Rishis and sages discovered Mudra knowledge and they found when certain points are pressed, by touching or folding fingers in a particular way, or
pressing some points in the hands, we can balance the disharmony between the five
elements that make up our body.
With the help of our fingers, we can keep the five elements in proper proportion, any disturbance in them (excess or scarce) can be balanced so that our body becomes healthy.
The thumb is associated with the fire element, the lung meridian and the planet Mars and represents willpower and logic.
The index finger is associated with the air element, the stomach meridian and the planet Jupiter. It represents the mind, the power of thought.
The middle finger is associated with the ether element, the circulation and gallbladder meridians and the planet Saturn. It represents our spiritual path. Hindus call it the ‘heavenly finger’.
The ring finger is associated with the earth element, the liver meridian and the Sun. It represents vitality and health.
The little finger is associated with the water element, the heart meridian and the planet Mercury. It represents communication, sexuality and personal relationships.
Our hands are important!
Our body can rejuvenate itself when we position the fingers on both hands for a period of time.
Mudra of Emptiness (Shunya Mudra) -
Bend the middle finger and place it at the ball of the thumb – then press down with the thumb. The rest of the fingers are left extended. For optimum results, this Mudra is held for 45 minutes at a stretch. It reduces dullness in our body. Shunya Mudra has a connotation of sky, which is joined together with the highest forces.
Precaution: Do not do this Mudra while having food or walking.
Benefits: Relieves an earache within 4 or 5 minutes, useful for the deaf and mentally challenged, reduces the dullness in our body, beneficial for heart patients, strengthens the gums, improves the voice of the speech-impaired and is good with thyroid problems. It brings relaxation to sudden senselessness of body brought on by sudden shock.
Mudra for Ether (Akash Mudra) -
Join the tip of the middle finger with the tip of the thumb, keeping the rest of the three fingers straight. This mudra is a combination of the ether element, with the sun, and pertains to any ailment involving sound.
Benefits: This mudra is excellent for increasing the sensitivity to hear sounds and it activates
the calcium and phosphorus absorption and formation from food, which makes it a very good mudra for those with weak bones, osteoporosis. Due to its inherent ability to release tension, it keeps the mind calm and serene and can be used during meditation. It can release lock-jaw, mental tension, or over-exertion. Regular practice calms and clarifies the thought process.
Mudra of Air (Vayu Mudra) -
Bring the index finger to the base of the thumb, and press the back of the second phalange with the thumb. Keep the other three fingers straight to prevent any dis-ease due to an imbalance of the air element. Practicing this Mudra for 45 minutes can reduce the severity of any discomfort within a day.
For best results, practice it regularly for two months.
Benefits: This Mudra helps with rheumatic pains, arthritis, gout, paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, chest pain, back pain, neck pain, any pain associated with excess wind in the body. It releases aches and pains and acts as first aid.
Mudra of Sun (Surya/Agni Mudra) -
Bend the ring finger and press it with the thumb. This one sharpens the centre in the thyroid gland. Precaution: If you feel weak avoid this Mudra. It produces heat in the body so best not to do in very hot weather.
Benefits: Balances the body, reduces cholesterol levels. It is good for diabetes and liver trouble. It reduces anxiety, corrects indigestion problems and strengthens the body.
Mudra of Water (Varun Mudra) -
Join the little fingertip with the tip of the thumb, keeping the rest of the fingers stretched out. This Mudra is associated with and balances the Water element in the body. Varun helps you to retain clarity and prevents all diseases of the blood, which come due to dehydration.
Precaution: Do not press the tip of the little finger near the nail, as it dehydrates further, rather than hydrating the system. Those with respiratory problems should avoid this Mudra.
Benefits: Great for skin disorders, skin infections, wrinkles and dryness. It activates the circulation of fluids in the body, prevents muscle shrinkage, purifies blood and heals blood disorders bringing a healthy glow. It also cures constipation. It activates the salivary glands to quench thirst and relieves kidney malfunction and stomach infection by promoting urination.
Mudra of Earth (Prithvi Mudra) -
Touch the tip of the thumb and the tip of the ring finger together, keeping the other three fingers straight. Since this Mudra is an association of the Earth element with the powerful Sun, it brings solidity to the body.
Benefits: Regular practice of this Mudra assists in weight gain if underweight. It helps restore the equilibrium of the body and wards off weakness, fatigue and dullness, increasing Prana in the body. The position of the fingers intensifies the sense of smell and is also effective for nail, skin, hair, and bones. It brightens the aura, activates the thinking power, and helps to broaden conservative thinking patterns. It compensates for lack of Rajasic Guna (passion).
I hope you enjoyed reading about the mudras, pick the one that you are drawn to and try it with your meditation or pranayama practise and let me know how you find it?