What is Mudra in Yoga?
According to the Vedic culture of ancient India, our entire world is made of ‘the five elements’ called The Panch-Maha-Bhuta. The five elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Space/Vacuum. They are also called the earth element, water element, fire element, wind element, and space element.
These five elements constitute the human body – the nutrients from the soil (earth) are absorbed by the plants which we consume (thus we survive on the earth element), the blood flowing through our own veins represents the water element, the body heat represents the fire element, the oxygen we inhale and the carbon dioxide we exhale represents the wind element and the sinuses we have in our nose and skull represent the space element. As long as these five elements in our body are balanced and maintain appropriate levels we remain healthy. An imbalance of these elements in the human body leads to deteriorated health and diseases.
Now understand this, the command and control center of all these five elements lies in our fingers. So literally, our health lies at our fingertips. The Mudra healing method that I am going to teach you depends on our fingers.
The finger-element relationship:
Thumb – Fire element.
Index finger – Wind element.
Middle finger – Space/Vacuum element.
Third finger – Earth element.
Small finger – Water element.
When the fingers are brought together in a specific pattern and are touched to each other, or slightly pressed against each other, the formation is called a ‘Mudra’. Mudra is a term with many meanings. It is used to signify a gesture, a mystic position of the hands, a seal, or even a symbol. However, there are eye positions, body postures, and breathing techniques that are called mudras.
What is the importance of Mudra?
After your face, no part of your body is quite as expressive as your hands. With the flexibility to make a wide range of gestures and subtle movements, your hands can convey complicated thoughts and profound feelings, helping you to communicate and connect with other people. Modern scientific research has established that moving different parts of your hands activates different areas of your brain. Since ancient times, Indian philosophy has taught that how the fingers move and touch each other influences the flow of prana, the life-giving energy within the body, and yogis have used precise hand and finger gestures – mudras – to channel prana for physical and mental healing and spiritual enlightenment.
In India, mudras are an established component of all religious activities. The various mudras and hastas (arm poses) are significant in the depiction of Hindu gods. In addition to body postures and attributes, they also represent the distinguishing characteristics of various deities. The person at prayer sees a special power, capability, and strength of character in these mystical hand poses.
9 BENEFITS OF MUDRAS in Yoga
- Ensures prana (subtle energy) moves freely to keep your body and mind well balanced and healthy
- Increase flexibility and mobility of your hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders
- Improve technique if you play an instrument or hand-intensive sport
- Boost mental acuity and concentration
- Ease symptoms of common ailments
- Overcome emotional difficulties, from anger to grief
- Purge your subconscious mind of negativity
- Develop a regular meditation practice
- Encourage inner peace and a sense of oneness with the universe.
HOW TO PRACTICE TATTVA MUDRA TO BALANCE FIVE ELEMENTS IN YOUR BODY
AGNI MUDRA-Fire Gesture
HOW TO PRACTISE
Come into a sitting position.
Each hand does something different:
Right hand – make a fist with the thumb pointing straight up.
Left hand – open your hand, with the palm facing up. Place your right fist on your left palm and, maintaining this position, rest both hands in your lap. Hold as you sit quietly or meditate. Repeat daily.
HOW IT WORKS By freeing your thumbs from the other fingers, you free the fire element from the influence of the four other elements. This strengthens the nourishing fiery energy yogis call Samana Vayu.
Holding Agni Mudra can increase your sensations of vitality and energy.
VAYU MUDRA-Air Gesture
Come into a sitting or kneeling position.
Bring the tips of both index fingers to the base of their respective thumbs, then press your thumbs down onto the top knuckles of the index fingers. Hold for 15 minutes twice daily. For chronic joint pain, practice for up to 30 minutes three times a day.
HOW IT WORKS By pressing down on the index finger, you reduce and control the element this finger is associated with – air. This removes excess wind and dryness in the body and restores balance to your vital energy.
AKASHA MUDRA-Touching the Void Gesture
HOW TO PRACTISE Kneel on your heels. Using both hands, join the tip of each thumb with the pad of the middle finger of the same hand. Allow your other fingers to relax as you rest the backs of your hands on their respective knees or thighs with palms facing upward. Practice for 3–5 minutes daily, especially after meals or before starting a major clear-out.
HOW IT WORKS
By joining the thumb (fire element) to the middle finger, you stimulate the ether or space element, creating more space in your life.
PRITHVI MUDRA-Earth Gesture
HOW TO PRACTISE
Come into a sitting or kneeling position. Using both hands, gently join the tips of your thumbs to the pad of the ring fingers of the same hand. Extend your other fingers, but keep the same hand. Extend your other fingers, but keep them relaxed. To meditate with this mudra, rest the inner parts of the wrists on their respective thighs so your fingers point down. Hold for as long as feels comfortable and repeat as required.
HOW IT WORKS
When you make a circle by joining your thumb (the fire element) and ring finger (earth), you channel prana to move around the circuit. This stimulates the Muladhara chakra and creates an energetic ‘spark’, like lightning striking the earth.
VARUNA MUDRA-Water-balancing Gesture
HOW TO PRACTISE
Come into a sitting position. Join the tips of your little fingers and thumbs on each hand. Keep the three other fingers extended, but relaxed. Rest your hand’s backs on your thighs. Hold for as long as feels comfortable; repeat as required.
HOW IT WORKS
Bringing the tip of the thumb (fire element) to meet the tip of your little finger (water) intensifies the water element, restoring moisture to the body. This also symbolizes the joining of opposites, countering rigid structures.
There are many other different kinds of mudras as well but to begin your mudra journey in yoga one must learn about the tattva mudra and then move on to other advanced mudras.
Hope you would practice these mudras, and let us know if you want to know anything else about mudras.
What are the different Types of Mudras in Yoga?
- Worship Mudras
- Gayatri Mudras
- Yajana Mudras
- Healing Mudras
- Vayu Mudras
- Yogic/Spiritual Mudras
- Gyan Mudras
- Dhyan mudras
- Yoga Mudra
- Vipareeta Karani Mudra and many more.
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