by Swami Saradananda
I would like to begin this article on ‘mudras’ by greeting you with the most common Indian gesture, which might be familiar to you if you attend yoga classes. By joining your palms together with all of your fingers straight up, you are bringing your hands into the mudra known as ‘namaste’, which means: ‘my essence greets your essence’.
By practicing ‘namaste’ and other mudras, you knowingly or unknowingly seal your subtle energy into specific positive channels, which yogis refer to as ‘nadis’ – acupuncture and shiatsu people call these channels ‘meridians’.
Although you use your hands constantly, you probably overlook their potential power. Most of the major energy channels in your body either start or finish in your hands or feet. One way you can optimise your energy is by consciously bringing your hands into specific mudras.
Mudras are hand and arm positions and essential in the practice of yoga, and also in Indian dance, art and ritual. Most of them are easy to do, but so powerful that regular practice could transform your life. They are simple, yet intense practices that can aid you in the purification and strengthening of your physical, mental and psychic bodies.
Mudras can assist you in rebalancing your energy, enhancing your well-being and transforming your life in a wide range of ways. They can prove to be useful tools in deepening your yoga and meditation practice, and they can aid you in finding inner peace. One of the best things about practicing mudras is that all you need is your own hands and a place to sit.
Introduction to mudras
Before the use of spoken language, human beings probably gestured with hands and bodies to communicate. Although in modern life speaking with hands is frequently seen as undignified, no part of the body, aside from the face, expresses emotions as well. Your hands, with their ability to make a wide range of gestures and subtle movements, help you to convey your thoughts and feelings.
The way fingers move and touch each other influence the flow of subtle energy within the body. Modern science proved that the way we move our hands and fingers determines which portions of the brain are activated.
For thousands of years, yogis have researched and practised hand and finger gestures, known as mudras, to channel prana (subtle energy). They found that many of these movements promoted physical and mental healing; others helped them to expand consciousness.
Mudra is the Sanskrit word for ‘seal’. By working with these hand gestures, you are sealing and focusing your subtle energy. There are probably thousands of different mudras; many are extremely functional, simple to perform, safe and effective. Although the shape and flexibility of your fingers might influence how easily you can come into a mudra, with practice the increased flexibility that you gain will overcome the starting obstacles.
When performing a mudra, a light contact between your thumb and other finger(s) is sufficient; strong pressure is not really required. Unless otherwise specified, it is usually best to do mudras with both hands simultaneously
Mudras stimulate your subtle energy and help you to achieve harmony on both an individual and universal level. Many of their benefits are enhanced by doing them in conjunction with other exercises, such as meditation, visualization, pranayama, mantra chanting and asana practice.
I hope that this article will inspire you to start practising mudras and experience how this ancient practice can help you to live a more peaceful and happy life.
In just 2 weeks, my new book Mudras for Modern Life will be available. I’d like to finish this article with one gesture that is not included in my book, but it is even more well-known than Namaste: may you ‘Live Long and Prosper’.
About the author: Swami Saradananda, an internationally-renowned yoga-meditation teacher who inspires you to want to practice. She is the author of number of books, including Chakra Meditation, Power of Breath, Yoga Mind and Body, Relax and Unwind with Yoga, Essential Guide to Chakras and Mudras for Modern Life. After working with Sivananda Yoga Centres for many years, she did intensive personal practice in the Himalayas. Now based in London, she teaches workshops and courses worldwide. She may be reached through her website: www.FlyingMountainYoga.org
Mudras for Modern Life: Boost your health, re-energize your life, enhance your yoga and deepen your meditation
Available from Watkins Publishing
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