What Is A Mudra?
Mudra is a Sanskrit word that means 'gesture' or 'seal' and is said to intensify the effect of yoga, meditation or pranayama, they also enhance the flow of energy around the body. Depending on the mudra you use, you will bring a different energy into your body.
There are many different types of Mudras, the ones we will focus on today are Hasta Mudras, meaning hand gestures.
Essentially, mudras are a non-verbal way of communication and self-expression. They purify, energise and divinize similarly to how a Mantra would work, the difference being the mode of communication.
The purpose of a mudra is to activate and create a circuit of prana in the body. This circuit channels the prana in a specific way to create subtle effects and positive changes in different parts of the body and mind. Prana is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘constant motion’. It is referred to as the universal or original life force and has been described as the energy responsible for the body’s life, heat and maintenance.
Origins + Uses
Mudras have been around for thousands of years appearing in many religions and traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Tantric rituals, Roman art, Asian martial arts, Taoism. However, the specific origins are unknown.
Depending on the tradition, the purpose of mudras vary. Mudras can be used to illustrate the meaning of a ritual, give meaning to a sculptural image, a dance movement, or a meditative pose, intensifying their potency. In its highest form, it is a magical art of symbolic gestures. It is believed that the sequence itself of such ritual hand postures may have contributed to the development of the mudras of Indian classical dance.
In yoga, we often use mudras whilst holding an asana (posture), practising pranayama (yoga breathing technique) or during meditation. Holding a mudra is said to stimulate the flow of prana (life force) in our body. It can also be a tool for quieting a busy mind, as we instead focus our attention on the sensations of our hands touching.
Each finger plays a role in hand mudras, they act as an electrical circuit and using mudras balances the energy within your body. Each finger has an associated element that you can tap into and utilise it's power.
The thumb - fire (agni)
The index finger - air (vayu)
The middle finger - space (akasha)
The ring finger - earth (prithvi)
The little finger - water (jala)
5 Hasta Mudras
This is the most common and recognised mudra. To do this you can sit, stand or lie down but you must make sure your back is straight. Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger while the other fingers are stretched out but relaxed. While doing this, focus on your breath.
This Mudra increases concentration, knowledge and memory.
This mudra is about prana, the Sanskrit word for our life force energy.
To do this, touch the tip of your thumb with the tips of your ring finger and little finger while you stretch out the other two fingers.
This mudra concentrates on your energy connecting you to prana. It can also improve eye health and help with fatigue and insomnia.
This mudra helps you connect with the Earth - prithvi. To do this, touch the tip of your thumb with the tip of your ring finger and extend the other fingers.
It helps you to achieve a balanced and fulfilling life by strengthening your body, reducing fatigue. It is also grounding by freeing you from irrational thought.
This mudra helps regulate air flow as it uses the index finger associated with the air element. To do this mudras, tuck your index finger under your thumb. The other three fingers should be stretched out.
This mudra helps relieve aches and pains, as well as shortness of breath. It is particularly effective for pain in the joints, and can even bring relief to people suffering from arthritis.
This mudra helps regulate the of heat in your body. To do this, fold your ring finger so that its tip touches the base of your thumb. Gently apply pressure with the thumb on the second digit of the ring finger. The other fingers should be stretched out.
This mudra helps to boost metabolism, assisting with weight loss and improving eyesight, relieving constipation, indigestion, immunity and other metabolism-related problems.
What Mudras do you use in your practice? Let us know in the comments below!
By: Katrina Scales