Eastern healing practices blend breathing awareness, body posture, and vocalization to balance the chi – essential life force. Many westerners are familiar with yoga, but do you know what a mudra is?
Pronounced MOO-dra, this Hindi word means pose, stance, or posture. Mudras are done with the hands. Take a close look at Indian temple statuary and you can see that many subjects in meditation or yoga poses have certain fingers pressed against the palm.
The eight mudra hand gestures come from India and are thought to stimulate different parts of the mind and body, bringing relief from aches and pains.
The ancient Hindu sages recognized intuitively five elements in the human body: space, air, fire, water, and earth. The hands are believed to have energetic points that correspond with the elements. Bending the fingers and holding the positions activates and manipulates the elements to restore the flow of natural energy, clear blockages, and allow healing to happen.
Each finger relates to one of the elements:
- Thumb: Space
- First (index) finger: Air
- Second (middle) finger: Fire
- Third (ring) finger: Water
- Fourth (pinky) finger: Earth
At first, your fingers may be stiff and unused to bending into these positions. Soon, they will get more flexible and the mudras will feel very natural.
If a mudra is tricky for you to get into, feel free to use your other hand until you become accustomed to working these muscles. Hold the positions for as long as you like.
Once you get used to them, mudras are easy to do – and you can do them anywhere and everywhere. But don’t take my word on it. Try them out yourself and leave a comment below.
- Gyan Mudra increases the air element and brings you up when you feel down. Doing this pose makes you enthusiastic about life, more creative, and less lazy. It improves memory, increases knowledge, and helps you concentrate. Press the thumb and first (index) finger together so the tips touch. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Vaayu Mudra decreases the air element to reduce anxiety. Who doesn’t need some stress relief? Holding this position releases excess air from the stomach. Fold the first (index) finger straight down and anchor it with the thumb. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Aakash Mudra increases the space element to cure the blues and chase away fear, rage and nasal problems like congestion. Press the thumb and second (middle) finger together so the tips touch. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Shunya Mudra reduces the space element to relieve ear pain. Also known as Mudra of Emptiness, it helps hearing problems. The position is similar to Aakash Mudra, but here the second (middle) finger bends to touch the palm at the base of the thumb which covers and holds it in place. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Prithvi Mudra increases the earth element and reduces the fire element to fight fatigue and sore muscles. It improves blood circulation, reduces weakness and boosts metabolism. Press the thumb and third (ring) finger together so the tips touch. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Surya Mudra decreases the earth element and increases the fire element to help thyroid problems. Also called Agni Mudra, this hand posture aids digestion and weight problems, and calms anxiety. Bend the third (ring) finger to touch the palm at the base of the thumb which covers and holds it in place. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Varun Mudra increases the water element to ease cramps, achy joints and arthritis. It regulates fluids in the body and is good for the skin and complexion. Press the thumb and fourth (pinky) finger together so the tips touch. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Jal Shaamak Mudra reduces the water element to dry watery eyes, a runny nose, or excessive perspiration (sweating). Bend the fourth (pinky) finger to touch the palm at the base of the thumb which covers and holds it in place. The other three fingers remain outstretched.
- Prana Mudra is also called Mudra of Life. This hand pose boosts the immune system, refreshes the body, and balances the body’s energy (chi). Bend the ring and pinky fingers to touch the palm and cover the ring finger with your thumb between the first and second knuckle. The other two fingers remain outstretched.
- Apana Mudra stimulates the heart chakra and strengthens the heart. It is excellent for anyone who has had a heart attack. It is also good for mental as well as physical digestion and to eliminate body wastes. Bend the second (middle) and third (ring) fingers to touch the tip of the thumb. The first (index) and fourth (pinky) fingers remain outstretched.
If you find mudra hand positions beneficial, spread the word to your family, friends and neighbors. Feel better, more confident, happier, and pain free.