by Bill O’Connor
Mudra is a Sanskrit term meaning lock or seal. In yoga, mudras are the actions of the body, mind and spirit to seal the individual purpose of the action into a result.
All yoga asana, bandhas and hand motions are a mudra.
In the case of hand mudras, consider the hand and foot have over 2000 nerve endings.
If we can configure the fingers to touch the appropriate nerve ending of the sympathetic nerves then we can stimulate various parts of the body, mind and spirit.
Or so say the ancients.
Hand Mudras were explored and developed at the same time as yoga postures, asanas. Mudras, positions of the hand, became an integral part of asana and ritual dance in India as well as Tibet, China and Japan. In fact hand mudras or hand symbols have been a powerful aspect of human existence; consider the hand symbol for halt or submission. Even now realize the power of the raised middle finger in Western society. Powerful indeed.
In Yoga there are very common and recognized hand mudras.
The most common is called prayer, anjali mudra. This is a greeting and an honorific to the receiver. It is the most common way of saying hello in the East. Try it the next time you order Indian take out, but be prepared. This mudra will balance the right and the left side of your mind and body. For this reason, it’s also a great mudra to practice after any balance poses.
Another common Mudra is simply called chin mudra. By touching the thumb and the fore finger one can align with universes. Cool or what??? The index finger symbolizes the individual and the thumb symbolizes the universe of possibilities. Lightly touching pointer and thumb while softly extending the other three fingers can create a universal flow in the body and mind, carrying meaning and well being.
This is a common mudra for meditation.
Limiting studies to yoga hand mudras, there are over 100 or more to be explored. Each is powerful and distinct for the body, mind and spirit. Generally 2 or 3 are practiced in the morning for five minutes each with a mental affirmation to bind the mind with the intention. It’s a self actualization kind of thing.
We invite you to add hand mudras to your asana practice to create more powerful and enriching aseptic to your consciousness, to be increasingly aware of the position of your body and hands.