The term mudra Means gesture or seal. Most Mudras use the hands but there are also Mudras for the whole body, mouth and eyes. When we sit still in class, either to calm ourselves at the beginning of practice or to rest in between asana (postures), I often suggest a Mudra for your hands.
Mudras work on our energy or subtle body and are lesser known than the physical asana (postures). They are based on the principles of Ayurveda which is often thought of as yoga’s sister. To understand Mudra, it’s best to consider the body with the Eastern mindset – thinking about what we call alternative health treatments such as acupuncture or reflexology. In these treatments the energy pathways are redirected and Mudras work in the same way. By holding the fingers in a variety of shapes you can improve or redirect the flow of energy around the body. These energy pathways relate to the nervous system and through this Mudras create a connection with the patterns in our brains. It sounds like magic – but the pressure on our fingers and thumbs influences these energetic pathways in an subconscious way.
It takes a year or two of regular yoga to become ‘tuned’ in to your subtle body. Also you need to be able to to sit still or hold postures so that you can add this extra dimension of subtlety to your yoga.
Here are 2 practical exercises involving Mudra for you to try. Sit in any comfortable posture and hold the Mudra for 5 -15 minutes. Can you notice any changes in your body or mind? Can you tell the difference between these 2 mudra?
Chin Mudra – pictured above is known as the “psychic gesture”. Here the thumb and index fingers lightly touch with the other 3 fingers stretched straight out. The thumb representing the cosmic energy and the index finger representing the individual. This mudra is said to help ailments of the back. Accompany this mudra with the following affirmation: –
“Divine knowledge makes my life richer and easier; divine wisdom gladdens my heart and shows me the path.”
Apan Vayu Mudra
Apan Vayu Mudra – pictured below – affects the heart. The middle and ring fingers lightly touch the thumb with the index finger folded in and the little finger stretched out. Accompany this mudra with the following affirmation –
“I have the time and the leisure to see beauty and enjoy the silence”
You can find out more about the fascinating topic in this article at the Bihar School of Yoga website.