Mudra in ancient Sanskrit means gesture. Mudras are hand positions used for healing. Mudras can be used to cultivate a greater sense of awareness of energetic fields within your body, they can calm you and detoxify your body.
Mudras activate parts of the brain and body in a way similar to reflexology. When we position our fingers and thumbs in a mudra hand gesture, it creates a loop that allows the energy in the hands to be sustained and moulded in certain ways. The energy in the loop is directed in various ways depending on the mudra that we use, and that same energy journeys back into the body to create various health benefits. Mudras have numerous physical health benefits and are also used as remedies for physical sickness and disease. They create an energetic seal within the body, by closing a circuit of energy existing between two or more points in the body.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, our hands hold the endpoints of energetic pathways carrying prana, life force energy, through our body. These energy pathways are called meridians, the same meridians used in acupuncture and reflexology. Modern medicine has shown that our hands contain hundreds of thousands of nerve endings. These nerves originate in the brain, circulate the body, along with blood vessels, and end as highly sensitive and receptive points in the hands and fingertips.
Our hands are full of our karmic energy, while our fingers are like plugs that help exchange energy between our pranic life energy and the universal cosmic energy. Hand gestures, thus, can influence the pranic energy – further branching out into emotional, mental, physical and spiritual energies. Different areas of the hand stimulate specific areas of the brain. By applying light pressure to these areas of the hand, we activate the corresponding region of the brain, similar to reflexology.
Any living body is made of five distinct elements: Fire, wind, ether, earth and water. These are the five building blocks that go into the formation of any living body. Several ancient health systems are based on the concept of the balance of these five elements. According to Ayurveda, distortion, or impairment of the 5 elements creates outer disturbance and inner sickness in the body. The five fingers of the hands represent these five elements. The thumb symbolizes fire, the forefinger symbolizes wind, the middle finger aether, the ring finger earth and the little or small finger symbolizes water.
The origin of mudras is still unknown, though we associate them with Asia, they are actually found in all cultures all over the world. The image with hand mudras below, is a 12th century Japanese scroll (courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Although the word “mudra'' is Hindu, hand positions are ubiquitous and have been used long before religions existed. Mudras are a direct form of body language.
How you can practice mudras:
You can use mudras in meditation, during Pranayama or during yoga asanas.
The most vital element of practicing mudras is to be present and mindful. Practice mudras with intention.
Simply follow these steps to perform the mudra correctly.
As many people practice meditation and/or Pranayama in the morning, it is good to practice your mudras during this time also. A mudra should be held at least for 15 minutes for it to have the desired effect. If you can add another 2 more times of 15 minutes in a day, would create a stronger healing effect. There are many mudras that can be practiced even whilst travelling and you can practice mudras whilst waiting somewhere.
Sit in a meditation position, Sukhasana, Padmasana or Siddhasana.
Gently close your eyes and begin to breathe through your nose. Take a few relaxing breaths to calm the mind and develop your concentration. When you inhale you add a slight pressure on the touching fingers and when exhaling you release the pressure. The fingers that are not engaged in the mudra remain relaxed.
How to practice Apan Mudra:
Apan Mudra helps with inner peace and healing.
Round your middle-finger and ring-finger inwards towards the palm and place the tips of these fingers on the tip of your thumb, curl your index finger. The thumb should be lightly curled inward.
The rest of your fingers should be held straight but relaxed. With both of your hands in the position described above, place your hands on your knees with the palms facing up.
Maintain this position while you meditate.
There a over 100 different mudras you can practice all having amazing benefits. Start adding mudras to your meditation!
Here you can find some more useful informations:
Source of this blog post:
Thank you to Franco Antonio Giovanelli for the main image
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York for 12th century Japanese scroll