We often see the Buddha represented with this gesture. It is beautifully simple and brings you into deeper, more profound concentration. It is the traditional mudra to aid qualities of tranquillity and inner peace.
Method: To do the Dhyana mudra, simply sit with your hands facing upward, right hand resting on top of your left palm. The right hand, representing enlightenment and higher spiritual faculties, rests over the left hand, representing the world of maya, or illusion.
I like to visualise the hands as a little basket. Sometimes there are flowers in the basket and sometimes there is a little fire burning. The space within the hands is empty and you can see that space as freedom and a way to empty the mind. You can do whatever works for you – it’s a soft embrace and the fingers could be holding a dove… allow your imagination to roam and find something that works for you.
This mudra is from the card set by Gertrud Hirschi – a wonderful gift for a loved one (or even yourself).
Mudras redirect the energy lines which flow around, through and outwards from our body. By placing the fingers (and sometimes other body parts) in different ways we send the energy to parts that we feel need it. With the friendship mudra the thumbs tips are connected over to the base of the little fingers, ring finger and middle finger are curled on top of the thumbs and the forefinger tips connect with the little fingers hooked together.
This shaping redirects the energy lines to the heart, lungs and kidneys.
Gertrud says –
‘Good friendships make life pleasanter, more enjoyable – and longer. There are the spice of one’s life. With this mudra you not only do your friends good, but also yourself, because everything with you send out with it comes back to your own benefit. In your imagination you send your friends and family a loving and cheering smile. Wait and see how the recipients return the gesture!’
May a thousand hands carry you,
A thousand kisses touch you,
A thousand hearts reach out to you,
And millions of stars shine upon you.
Pushan mudra is a symbolic gesture designed to fill you with energy to give and receive joy. With the right hand bring the tips of the index and middle fingers to touch the tip of the thumb. With the left hand bring the tips of your middle and ring fingers to touch the tip of the thumb. Stretch out the fingers that don’t touch the thumbs. Hold for 5 minutes twice a day – or as and when required.
This mudra is for accepting as well as giving – you will feel the energy in the hands, it is quite a work out for your fingers. Benefits of this mudra include aiding digestion, can help with nausea and seasickness.
The term Pushan means to prosper, to grow and to thrive. Enjoy working with this mudra!
Garuda the mystical bird, is the carrier of lord Vishnu. Garuda is the king of birds, sky and air. Birds generally have sharp eyes, a distinct sense of orientation, and strong survival instincts. Garuda mudra is a powerful mudra to add to your daily yoga and meditation practice. Garuda mudra is useful in balancing energy in the body. It is very beneficial for the circulatory systems and should be used for about 4 minutes 3 times a day.
Sit in a meditation position of your choice and place the right hand on top of the left, spread the fingers and gently hook the thumbs. Place the hands horizontally in the lap. Whilst in position imagine living your life as a big bird of prey – you sail elegantly and lightly through the air and see the ground below clearly. You see the landscape all around you for what it is – the mountains are challenges but are not too high for you to fly over. Breathe deeply. Use your clear vision to ascertain what is significant in your life and what is unimportant.
Anjali mudra or prayer position, is an age-old means of helping human beings to remember the precious gift that life is, and to remind us to use it wisely. It is used in many traditions, cultures and religions around the globe. It helps us to align our mind (awareness), feelings (heart), and actions (body) with one simple gesture. This pose brings the layers of being together – which is the essence of yoga – ‘to yoke’
Anjali mudra, pronounced AHN-jah-lee MOO-dra, translates to mean ‘slutation’ ‘seal’. Anjali mudra is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one’s heart, whether you are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. It represents a meeting of the hearts. As you bring your hands together at your centre, you are literally connecting the right and left hemispheres of your brain, your outer and inner worlds. This is the yogic process of unification, the yoking of our active and receptive natures.
If you would like to take a simple meditation – bring the hands to the heart and repeat the mantra yam, yam, yam. This will have a calming effect and place you in touch with your true self.
When we sit either to calm ourselves at the beginning of practice or to rest in between asana, I often suggest a mudra for your hands. The term mudra means gesture or attitude and besides those using the hands there are also whole body, mouth and eye mudras.
Mudras are part of the subtle body of yoga practices, they are lesser known than the physical asana (postures) and are based on the principles of Ayurveda which is a healing practice often considered yoga’s sister. I find it helps to consider the body in the Eastern mindset – thinking about what we call alternative health practices such as acupuncture or reflexology. With these practices the energy pathways are massaged or redirected and mudras work in the same way – holding the fingers in a variety of ways to enliven or redirect the flow of energy around the body. Relating directly to the ‘pranic flow’ and the nervous system, mudras create a subtle connection with the patters in our brains to influence the unconscious reflexes in the desired areas. Our internal energy is in turn balanced and redirected to affect a change in the sensory organs, glands, veins and tendons.
You do need to be ‘tuned’ in to your body which requires a year or two of consistent yoga practice and also the ability to sit still or hold postures so that you can add this extra dimension of subtlety to your yoga practice.
Here are 2 practices involving mudra for you to try. Sit in a 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. You can accompany this mudra with the affirmation – “Divine knowledge makes my life richer and easier; divine wisdom gladdens my heart and shows me the path.”
Apan Vayu Mudra – pictured below, is said to affect the heart. Here the middle finger and ring finger lightly connect to the thumb, with the index finger folded inwards and the little finger stretched outwards. You can accompany this mudra with the following affirmation – “I have the time and the leisure to see beauty and enjoy the silence”.
A mudra is a seal to hold or direct prana (energy). The heart mudra (Hridaya Mudra) is made with the fingers by bending the first finger into the root of the thumb and then bringing the tips of the 2nd and 3rd fingers to touch the tip of the thumb. See the picture above.
This hand gesture is said to divert energy flow from the hands to the heart area, helping to address and release pent-up emotion. Sit with the spine up straight and the backs of your hands on your thighs. Take the mudra and focus your breath in the heart space. Meditate for as long as is comfortable.
Simhasana is a meditative posture. The weight of the body is evenly spread on the shins and the hands. The spine is straight and there is a feeling of extension in the spinal column. The abdomen is soft and relaxed and the pressure on the palms of the hands and wrists relieves stress and tension.
Closing the eyes and focusing the gaze on the eyebrow centre is called Shambhavi Mudra. This produces a profound calming effect on the brain waves and helps us move towards meditation.
In class this term we are shining a light on the often overlooked workhorse of the body – the digestive system.
This mudra (hand gesture or seal) is the ‘gesture of unshakable trust’ – we hold it in front of the heart and repeat a mantra. The one I have selected to end our practice is:
“I am a creation of the greatest omnipotence,
whose strength and power lovingly support
me at all times”
By learning to read our ‘gut instincts’ we can bring about harmony in our body and in our life.
On a simple level, if some foods don’t agree with you, then it is probably best not to eat them (ie if you wake up with a hangover following several glasses of wine try to cut down or cut it out). If you are not really hungry then it is best not to eat and so on. Follow the simple principles of nature and have faith that the digestive system will work as it was designed to.
As we are all aware, the feelings within the digestive system are capable of telling us much more than if we are hungry or not – anxiety, anger and fear all manifest as emotions within the ‘gut’. Through listening to, and tuning in with this feedback from our body we can live much more in tune with ourselves and our world. This is how yoga begins to unite the body and the mind.