Our emotions are often expressed through our hands. Clenching fists in anticipation or anger, nervous movement of hands before an interview or even blowing a kiss to a loved one are ways of expressing emotions. However, in certain situations the emotion we experience might not be the emotion we want to experience. For example, we want to feel confident before an important interview, but we usually feel nervous instead. And this emotional state is interlinked with our mind. Mudras can offer a simple and easy way to change our state of mind from agitation to calm.
The word Mudra is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘mudr’ which means ‘joyous or glad’. But mudra has many different meanings. Typically, it is used to denote a ‘seal’ or ‘mark’. But the word also signifies hand gestures which are sometimes combined with asanas or pranayama in Yoga. Mudras help seal our energy into specific nadis (channels) of our body and heal and stabilise the body and mind from within.
Yoga hand mudras or gestures, when done mindfully, help bridge the gap between the emotion we are experiencing and the way we would like to feel. Mudras impact our internal and external energies, directing our prana (energy) through the various nadis (channels) in our body. This changes our state of mind and facilitates emotional healing. Hirschi writes, “Practicing mudras can be called pure brain training. There is a positive influence on the brain waves, particularly when the fingertips touch each other. When we visualize inner images at the same time, this requires a great deal of ability from the brain and promotes the power of imagination. This power is one of the preconditions for mental alertness and clear thinking.”
Like the mind, which is never static, the yoga mudras that focus on the mind also are a series of movements instead of being static. To experience their full benefits you need to practice the mudras mindfully, with each movement flowing into the other seamlessly. Practicing them daily brings clarity and stability to the mind and this in turn, encourages emotional wellbeing. There is no prescribed number of minutes or hours for the practice of these mudras. Some people might experience the benefits in the first sitting while others might have to practice the mudras for 7-30 minutes every day for several weeks before they perceive any change.
Dhyani Mudra: Place both your hands in your lap with the left hand on top of the right hand. Join the tip of both the thumbs, forming a triangle with the tip of your thumbs and the base of both your hands. This is a good mudra to practice while meditating. Perform the mudra and focus on your breath. With this mudra practice you express the desire to be free mentally and emotionally. Practicing this mudra involves clearing your mind till you reach quietude in your mind.
Dhyani mudra: the mudra of contemplation.
Mudra of the Inner Self: Sit in a cross-legged position and place the balls of your hands together, joining the tips of your index, middle, ring and little finger. Your thumbs should be placed next to each other. It is almost like joining your hands for namaste, but with your knuckles pushing outwards. As the name suggests, this mudra focusses on the inner nature of a human being. There will be a tiny opening right above the tip of your littlest fingers. Hold your hands in this mudra near your forehead and look through this opening for as long as you can, without blinking. Post that bring your hands, in the same position, below your chin. The tips of your finger should not be touching your chin. It is believed that when you hold this mudra under your chin, it invariably stays at the spot where your soul lies. When practicing this mudra during meditation you will notice that there are different triangles formed by different body parts. There is one triangle right above the tip of your littlest fingers; there is another triangle formed by your arms and the position of your legs also forms a triangle each. In Hatha Yoga the triangle is seen as the symbol of the Divine. The practice of this mudra involves consciously forming triangles with your hands and observing the triangles formed by your body.
Mudra of the Inner Self.
Lotus Mudra: Join the edges of both your hands in front of your chest so that it looks like a flower bud. Align the tips of your fingers and thumbs of one hand with the other hand. Keep the edges of your thumbs and little fingers joined while extending the other fingers outwards, opening up the bud. Take four deep breaths and close your hands again. Now bend your fingers, curling them inwards towards the palms, and bring together the fingernails of both your hands against each other. Then, in a slow downward motion invert your hands until the backs of both hands rest against each other as do the fingers. Hold this position and then, once again, reverse your hands slowly, letting your fingertips remain in contact with each other as you bring your hands back to the closed bud position. Repeat the cycle by opening the bud once again. This is a good mudra to practice when you are feeling lonely or misunderstood. Lotus mudra works on the energy of the Heart chakra and is a symbol of purity.
Lotus mudra works upon the energy of the heart chakra.
It is quite impossible to seclude ourselves from sorrow and pain in life. Unfortunately, anxiety, stress, fear and other such negative emotions are a part of our daily lives. And they all begin in our mind. Navigating through these emotions can be challenging. But when we focus on clearing and stabilizing our mind we experience more control over our emotions. These mudras, when practiced mindfully, bring us mental and emotional balance that helps us bring stability to our daily lives and perhaps even reach a higher consciousness.