8 Powerful Mudras to rejuvenate the body, heal disease and awaken the power of your Divine Self
In the practice of Yoga, you are encouraged to use your body in many ways, but ultimately with the intention of drawing yourself inward. Mudras, or hand gestures, are powerful tools for accomplishing this because they help recenter the mind and redirect your body’s energy flow.
“Life is a series of endless miracles which keep happening in our lives almost all the time. They happen so effortlessly and without warning that they often pass by unrecognised. They visit the humblest as well as the most powerful, without prejudice or favour, and defy all logic and rational explanation.” Rajendar Menen
Yoga, although promoted as such sometimes, is not about performing acrobatic-looking poses and twisting your body into seemingly impossible shapes. Above all, it’s about regulating the breath — and more importantly controlling the intake and direction of prana, or life force, that rides on the breath – meditation and simple mudras or gestures that rapidly increase your awareness.
There are more than 100 known mudras that have been developed over the centuries! Here, I’d like to share a few of these important hand mudras that can act as a powerful therapy when combined with Presence (or Mindfulness). Most of them can be performed any time of the day as a part of your yoga practice or when you’re on the go and don’t have much time to spare.
Masters use them all the time, discreetly, in full view of everyone, but you might not even realise it.
What are Mudras?
You often hear that your health is in your hands. Well, it literally is!
Mudras are hand (and finger) gestures that we can adopt during meditation or pranayama (breathing exercises). They are considered to be ritual gestures, and you can often see them depicted in ancient scripts and Hindu and Buddhist images. However, mudras can also involve the whole body.
According to ancient yoga teachings, mudras direct the flow of energy to the body and stimulate different areas of the brain. They help to maintain health and can improve various ailments.
In the esoteric context, each finger corresponds to one natural element, namely air, water, earth, fire and ether (space).
Mudras for Better Health
1. Gyan Mudra – Improve Memory and Concentration
This is probably the most familiar mudra today – many meditators are often seen pairing this mudra with their practice. The intention of the Gyan mudra is to improve your concentration and sharpen your memory. This is a great mudra to use when seeking to gain knowledge. Try holding this mudra while meditating for insight into your life or a specific issue.
You can do this mudra any time of the day, but morning is perhaps the most beneficial.
Method: This mudra is performed by touching your index fingertip to the tip of your thumb, while holding your other three fingers straight.
2. Vayu – Heal Abdominal Pain, Gas, Joint Pain etc.
The Vayu mudra is good for diseases related to air imbalances, such as gas-related pain, flatulence, joint pain (e.g. arthritis), bloating, and abdominal discomfort. This mudra can also be beneficial for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, paralysis and cervical spondylitis.
Method: At first glance, this mudra may seem very similar to the Gyan mudra. The difference is the Vayu has you connect the thumb to the knuckle of the index finger, as opposed to the fingertip in Gyan. Press down on the index finger to your level of comfort; this gesture is intended to relax not strain the joint. For optimal results, do your Pranayama exercises while holding this mudra.
3. Prana Mudra – Awaken Your Life Force
The Prana mudra is said to be one of the most important mudras due to its ability to activate the Prana or vital life force within the body – it is in all living things.
Benefits include an increase in the life force, improvement in eyesight, blood circulation and immune function. It can also be used for insomnia, problems with eyesight and when fasting as it reduces hunger pangs.
Method: Perform this mudra by touching your ring and pinky fingers to the tip of your thumb, while keeping the other two fingers straight.
4. Akash Mudra – Improve Intuition, alertness & sensory powers
This gesture is used to improve intuition, alertness, and sensory powers. It also purifies your emotions and thoughts. This posture is also useful for people with teeth and ear problems and can help with an earache.
Method: This mudra is performed by touching the tip of the middle finger to the thumb tip, while keeping the other three fingers straight and relaxed.
Alternative method: Bend your middle finger. Place your thumb over it and press the distal phalanx (the bone close to the tip of the finger) of your middle finger with the base of the thumb. The rest of the digits are kept as straight as possible.
5. Dhyana Mudra – Deep Concentration
It is commonly believed that Dhyana mudra was practiced by Sakyamuni during his meditation under a Bodhi tree before he achieved enlightenment.
In Buddhism, this mudra is displayed with the tips of the thumbs touching. This shape of a triangle represents the “three jewels” of Buddhism: Buddha(wisdom), sangha (community) and dharma (teachings). The connection of the thumbs also represents the union of the inner male and inner female – subtles energies present in every human being.
This mudra represents the gesture of total balance. The person using this mudra during meditation is transported into unbounded space, completely untouched by the outside world. The right hand usually symbolises wisdom and awareness and the left one usually symbolises the illusion of existence (maya).
In Buddhism, the dhyana mudra is also performed with one hand only where only the left hand is placed in the lap, this time representing the female principle of sense and wisdom. (Clue: your intention matters!)
Method: To do the Dhyanamudra, simply sit with your hands facing upward, right hand resting on top of your left palm. The right hand rests over the left hand.
6. Surya Mudra – Improve Metabolism and Digestion
The Surya mudra is intended to increase the solar/fire element in the body and improve metabolism and digestion. It is also useful in reducing heaviness in the body and to help ward off colds, since it increases core body temperature.
Method: Perform this mudra by bending your ring finger to the base of your thumb so that your thumb touches the ring finger’s knuckle. Stretch your other three fingers straight without stressing the hand.
7. Apana Mudra – Mental & Physical Digestion
The Apana mudra is good for mental or physical digestion and for eliminating waste material from the body. This gesture may also be a form of aiding in mental and emotional digestion (and elimination!) of information that is continually received from external sources/stimuli.
Method: To do this posture, bring your second and third fingers to your thumb. Rest the two fingers just slightly behind the tip of the thumb.
8. Ganesha Mudra – Remove Obstacles
The Ganesha mudra is widely used and is named after the Hindu God Ganesh.
Ganesha is said to be a remover of obstacles. Similarly, this mudra is great for relieving yourself of all types of obstructions in your life; it can help you regain positivity and courage when dealing with hard times.
By performing this mudra, you bring your attention and energy into the heart center (anahata).
Aside from the psycho-spiritual benefits on your heart chakra, the pulling motion is also beneficial to your cardiac muscles and good for tension in this area of the body.
Method: Place your left hand in front of your chest with your palm facing outward and left thumb down. Next, place your right hand in front of your left with your right palm facing toward you and your left palm. Lock your fingers together, holding them in a half-bent position like a claw.
During your meditation, inhale deep, holding your hands in this gesture, then pull outwardly on your hands as you exhale without unlocking your fingers. Concentrate on eliminating the obstacles in your own heart. (See energisation principles)
Repeat this motion up to six times, then reverse the gesture (i.e., put your right hand in front of your chest facing outward with the thumb down). Be sure to perform this mudra the same number of times in each direction to maintain the balance of the pulling act.
A few closing thoughts
In closing, the benefits with using mudras often comes with time, patience – and persistence! Most of all, do not try to force any result, simply witness what is going on inside of you.
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