ENLIGHTENMENT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS: Unlocking the Power of Sacred Hand Gestures
Ever notice how Hindu and Buddhist deities are often shown holding eloquent hand gestures as they radiate bliss? These divinities are tapped into the power of mudras, meaning “seal” in Sanskrit and are affectionately known as “yoga for the fingers”. Mudras are ancient, sacred hand postures used in spiritual practices like yoga and meditation to achieve specific beneficial results.
How Mudras Work
With over 4000 nerve endings at the tips, our fingers are ripe pressure points that connect to parts of the physical body (brain, organs, glands, veins, tendons) and energetic body (chakras, nadis, aura). By connecting the tips of the fingers to other parts of the hands, energy is channeled through the physical and etheric pathways to create certain effects.
The ancient spiritual texts of India, known as the Vedas, further explain that mudras work by affecting the five basic elements of the human body: fire, air, ether, earth and water. As each finger corresponds with an element, pressing them together in specific gestures harmonizes the elements to create physical, mental and spiritual wellness. The fingersrepresentthe elementsas follows:
- Thumb Fire
- Index Air
- Middle Ether
- Ring Earth
- Little Water
By directing energy on both the physical and etheric level, mudras become powerful tools in achieving wellness inside and out. Practiced regularly, they can help you with anything from clearing skin problems to achieving nirvana.
How to Use Mudras
Although it’s ideal to practice mudras during meditation, yoga or when you are able to sit and relax, you can enjoy the benefits of mudras whenever your hands are free. It usually takes about three minutes to experience the flow of energy from the gestures, but you can do them for as little or as long as you feel good.
Whether your goal is to balance the elements within you, heal a physical ailment, or experience peace and a higher state of consciousness, there is very likely a mudra that can help you.
Five Mudras to Get You Started:
1. Gyan Mudra: Perhaps the most popular mudra, the Gyan gesture is a great stress buster as it clears the mind and brings calm, while also imparting wisdom and increasing memory and I.Q.
How to: Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger, and leave the middle, ring and little fingers relaxed, slightly curved.
2. Prayer Mudra: Another favourite in yoga classes, this gesture balances the yin-yang energies, centers and calms, enlists the help of your higher self, and is also used as a greeting to connect to the Divine within others and yourself.
How to: Gently bring your hands together in front your heart center/chest, palms facing flat and fingers pointed up.
3. Prana Mudra: As the life force mudra, this gesture helps activate dormant energy. Use it to get a boost of energy anytime you feel lackluster. It’s also great to do in the morning to start your day.
How to: Touch the tips of your ring and little fingersto the tip of your thumb, while keeping the middle and index fingers pointed out.
4. Apaan Mudra: Helps to purify and detoxify the body, regulates menstruation and eases menstrual pain, eases constipation and helps with child delivery (pregnant women should only practice in the ninth month, close to delivery).
How to: Touch the tip of the thumb with the tips of the middle and ring fingers, leaving the index and little fingers pointing out and straight.
5. Surya Mudra: Add this to your weight loss regime and you might be surprised at the results! This gesture speeds up the metabolism, reduces cholesterol and even helps fight colds.
How to: Tuck the top of your ring finger under the mound of your thumb, keeping your little, index and middle fingers straight out.
Learning More About Mantras
While this handful of postures can help you enjoy some great mind-body benefits, there are hundreds of mudras available. If you want to learn from a teacher, try a yoga or meditation class in your area that has a more spiritual focus, like Kundalini yoga. The internet also has some basic sources on mudras, but a book like “Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands” by Gertrud Hirschi provides a much more comprehensive yet practical approach to this ancient tool for transformation.
For now, it’s a relief to know that you don’t have to travel to the far east or dedicate your life to spiritual pursuits to experience the various and wondrous gifts you have right at your fingertips!
Feature image by Lynn, BlueBrightly