What are mudras?
Mudras are hand gestures, energy locks used in yoga to influence the flow of Prana, lifeforce. Mudras can be used to balance the energies within us. In life our hands connect us to the outer world, not only do they enable us to reach out, touch, heal, express play, work, cultivate, hold & share. Like the words we speak, our hands have the power to bring into manifestation our thoughts and actions. They are an extention of anahata, our heart centre energy, which is associated with air, vayu element. This element is:
- Felt by the skin (one of the 5 organs of perception known as jñānendriya)
- Activated by the hands (one of the 5 organs of action known as karmendriya)
- Sensed by touch (sparśa)
Air (vayu) brings balance to the physical, energetic, mental & spiritual realms, to our masculine & feminine aspects, to our ability to stay grounded yet connected to divine source, to being able to give and receive in equal measure and to all of our relationships and interactions.
Hidden meanings in our hands
Our hands have so many hidden meanings for example the universe is made up of five elements and each of the fingers/thumb represents one of these elements:
- The thumb represents fire (agni) also Universal Consciousness
- The forefinger represents air (vayu) also Individual Consciousness.
- The middle finger represents ether or space (akasha)
- The ring finger represents earth (prithvi)
- The little finger represents water (jala or varun)
The above three fingers also represent the 3 gunas. All that can be known in the world is a manifestation of these 3 energies:
- Sattva (Creation)
- Raja (Destruction)
- Tamas (Preservation)
mudras (hand gestures) are one way in which we can balance all of these energies within us and become the observer of these energies at play rather than being caught up in them. mudras are energy seals or locks & whilst they look very beautiful in our yoga practice this is not their only purpose, they are instruments with which we influence or divert the flow of Prana.
Prana (Lifeforce) would normally move around the body via the nadi’s (energy lines) that branch off of the junction points of energy known as the chakras. Eventually that energy dissipates out through the fingers, the exit points of our body’s nadis.
So, in order to stop the energy from dissipating and to instead divert it to cultivate a particular rasa or bhava (flavour, sentiment, emotional or mental state) we adopt hasta (hand) mudras.
Let’s take chin mudra as an example. This particular mudra is one of the most commonly seen/used hand gestures in meditation where we connect the forefinger to the thumb. The energy that would normally exit through the forefinger derives from the vortex of energy known as ajna (guru or third eye chakra). This energy is with regards to:
- Ability to see life’s bigger picture
- Inner Peace
So, we connect the forefinger to the thumb to create a circuit whereby the energy is no longer dissipating but re-diverted back to the vortex of energy at the third eye (brow centre) in order to cultivate all of the qualities listed above.
Off the mat
mudras doesn’t have to be limited to a practice on the mat.
- Recovering from a difficult situation? – adopt prithvi mudra in order to reground yourself
- Needing to be more adaptable? – adopt varun mudra in order to be more water like in your thinking and being
To find out more about the many mudras used in the yogic tradition to support our well-being and to understand how to awaken various bhavas (mental/emotional states) through these hand gestures join us in our weekly yoga classes at Same Star Yoga.