Mudras: Yoga for your hands
“Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm; as you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.”
What is a mudra?
It’s not uncommon to see Indian dancers using specific hand positions that are also found on old temple reliefs and by people practicing meditation. These are known as mudras, which signify a gesture, a mystical position of the hand, a seal, or a symbol. Chances are that if you are a religious person, you are likely doing a mudra without even knowing it, because prayer hands are indeed one kind of mudra. They are found in old Pagan practices, Christian prayers, and of course, India and China.
But unique to those from India, there are also subtleties found in eye and body posture—which is very much in line with yoga! In fact, 25 mudra positions alone are practiced in Hatha Yoga, and in Kundalini Yoga, they are utilized while in posture to enhance the effect of both the posture and the mudra.
You should do mudras because..
..mudras engage certain areas of the brain and they also correspond to meridians (pathways for prana or qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine), yielding special health benefits for physical, mental, and emotional issues. You can find ways to evoke the feeling of giving yourself a hug to helping yourself remember things, generating sexual vitality, or detoxifying and much more.
When practicing any mudra, a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 45 minutes is encouraged. These can be done while seated, standing, lying down, or walking. As always, focus on totality and remain present while doing the mudra, since the intent of the mind guides the energy, and the mudras help channel that flow better.
A Couple of Mudras to Start
To get you started, we have three positions for you to try out. The Kundalini form (see main article photo), located at the top, is used for Tantric purposes and awakening and channeling sexual energy. Following the image, form a loose fist with both hands, extend your left index finger and stick it into the right fist from below. Place the pad of your right thumb on the left fingertip. Hold the mudra as low as possible in front of your abdomen.
Next, the Shankh form is good for your throat, and especially effective when humming “Om” as you do it. Encircle your thumb with the four fingers of your right hand. Touch the right thumb to the extended index and middle finger of your left hand. Together, your two hands look like a conch shell, and should be at your sternum. If you hold this around your heart comfortable as well, many swear that it feels like they are hugging themselves.
For more information on mudras, you can check out Gertrud Hirschi’s Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands. A great compilation of mudra positions and applications, it’s the go-to book for people who are curious to learn a little or master a lot.
Yogasync Me! What will you do with your hands?
Try these Mudras now: