“Sleep is the world’s upholder and nurse,” writes Dr Robert Svoboda in his book Ayurveda Life Health and Longevity. When we sleep well our body and mind are naturally restored and rejuvenated. In fact, even a single night of good sleep can help enhance our cognitive abilities, sharpen our memory and help balance our mood.
Unfortunately, most of us today do not experience deep sleep daily and that has a significant impact on our everyday lives. From the blue light emitted by our mobile phones to stress and anxiety – many factors come together to create this lack of proper sleep. This is why we need to develop rituals and routines that can help us sleep better. One such routine can be adopting the practice of Yoga hand mudras or gestures.
Yoga hand mudras symbolise a certain state of mind. And when practiced regularly and mindfully, they can help one achieve that state of mind. In her book Yoga in Your Hands, Gertrud Hirschi explains how, in Hatha Yoga, certain gestures can positively impact the psyche and the practice of these hand mudras can help us imbibe the state of mind they symbolise. For example, Shakti mudra can help calm our mind after a tiring day and when our mind is calm, we can achieve truly restorative sleep.
Here are three simple hand mudras that can help you enhance your quality of sleep.
Chin mudra represents the unification of the atman (individual) with the brahman (universe). But Chin mudra also has physical benefits - it helps treat insomnia, depression, releases tension and helps achieve a clear mind. This mudra can be practiced as needed.
Shakti Mudra: Fold your thumbs, placing them on your palm. Join the little finger and ring finger of both your hands together, folding the rest of the fingers loosely over your thumbs. Inhale and then slowly exhale, focusing on your pelvic area. Practice this mudra three times a day for 12 minutes or as needed. Shakti mudra calms your mind and helps you fall asleep easily. It also strengthens your pelvic area and offers help with menstrual cramps.
Caution: Holding this mudra for too long or practicing it too often can cause lethargy.
Chin Mudra: Chin mudra is also known as the consciousness mudra. With your palms facing downwards, place your hands gently on your thighs or knees, naturally drooping downwards. Now join the tips of your thumb with the tips of your index finger while extending the other fingers outwards. Chin mudra, along with its variation Jnana mudra (where your hands rest gently on the thighs or knees with palms facing upwards and the thumb and the index finger are joined with the rest of the fingers extending outwards), are the two most well-known mudras in Hatha Yoga. Chin mudra represents the unification of the atman (individual) with the brahman (universe). But Chin mudra also has physical benefits - it helps treat insomnia, depression, releases tension and helps achieve a clear mind. This mudra can be practiced as needed.
Matangi Mudra: Matangi mudra strengthens the solar plexus and this strengthening reduces mental tension and brings clarity to our mind which in turn helps us sleep better. Bring hands in front of the stomach. Clasp both hands together, pointing upwards, with your fingers intertwined so the tips of all the five fingers rest against the back of the opposite hand. Place your hands near your stomach. Then extend both the middle fingers, pointing them upwards. This mudra should be practiced 3 times a day for 4 minutes or as needed. Matangi mudra calms us and allows us to relax and unwind.
Sleeping well can have a significant impact on our daily mood and efficiency. Yoga hand mudras, when practiced mindfully, can help us achieve this restful sleep. These mudras can be practiced at any time and any place which makes them both convenient and effective. Practicing mudras daily can improve sleep patterns, rejuvenate us physically and mentally and enhance our wellbeing.