Yoga, the ancient science that originated in our country is a treasure trove of amazing secrets that would bring mind, body and soul into harmony. It is in fact a culmination of physical, mental and emotional practices for achieving perfect health and true happiness in life.
Unfortunately, yoga is often considered as just asanas but it in fact is a great science that can help in awakening the seven chakras of ‘nadi mandala’ or the nervous system within the body by stimulating different areas of the brain. While many of us know about the meditation, Suryanamaskaras and other popular practices, we may not be aware of the importance of Yoga mudras or certain Yogic symbols, gestures made with palms and fingers towards achieving optimal health.
According to Ayurveda, the human body is dominated by 3 vital Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. An imbalance in these doshas ultimately leads to different health anomalies. And to curb these conditions, and promote a healthier lifestyle, here comes Yoga Mudras, an ancient form of practice that brings your redemption. Also Checkout: International Yoga Day: Practice Asanas Daily For A Healthy Life- Infographic
Origin Of Mudras
Since thousands of years, Mudras have been in practice and were originally performed by rishis or sages during rituals, for relaxations, meditation and to restore and maintain health. Even idols and pictures of several Gods and Goddesses are found restored in some kind of mudras. It is said that even Sri Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu was said to be in the ‘Gyan Mudra’ pose while imparting the ultimate knowledge of Bhagavad Gita to the hero Arjuna during the war of Mahabharata.
What Exactly Is Mudra?
The word ‘Mudra’ is a Sanskrit term that means ‘signs or seal’ and consists of two different words, where ‘mud’ means “joy” and ‘ra’ means “produce.” Hence, mudra signifies gestures or signs that produce joy and happiness. When the Yoga Mudras are done in conjunction with the various yoga poses, pranayama techniques or meditation practices, a sort of link is developed with the patterns in the brain that influences the subconscious reflexes in the different areas. This connection balances the internal energy i.e. ‘Prana’ and regulates their flow, into the various channels within the body, creating an impact on the sensory organs, tendons, glands and veins, thereby banishing different forms of health anomalies.
General Principle Of Mudra
Our body is made up of 5 different elements or ‘Pancha Tatvas’, i.e. Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air), Jala (Water), Akasha (Ether), and Bhumi (Earth). And each of these elements is represented by the five fingers of each palm. Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas
Let's know what each of the five fingers on our palm signifies:
The first finger of the palm represents the Fire element (i.e. Agni Tatva) and is related to the stomach and signifies the emotion worry.
The second finger represents the element Air or wind (i.e. Vayu Tatva). It is associated with the lungs and the large intestine and signifies the emotions sadness, depression, and grief.
The third finger represents the element Space or ether (i.e. Akash Tatva). It is linked to the heart, small intestine, respiratory and circulatory systems of the body and associates with the emotions restlessness and impulsiveness.
The fourth finger represents the Earth element (i.e. Prithvi Tatva). It is related to the organs liver, gall bladder, and the nervous system and signifies the emotion anger.
The last or fifth finger on our palm represents the Water element (i.e. Jala Tatva). It is associated with the kidneys and represents the emotion fear.
An imbalance of these five elements within the body brings about a form of disparity in the Doshas which ultimately disrupts the immune system and is the root cause of most health anomalies. Hence the five elements should always be in harmony to promote healthy well-being.
Working Principle Of The Mudras
Well, you might have noticed that while performing an asana or a pranayama pose, the fingers are either open or closed or kept in a particular way. Since these five fingers represent the five-governing elements of the body, the way they are kept during the asana signifies the increase or decrease of the particular element within the physical body.
To Balance an Element:
The tip of the corresponding finger is joined together with the tip of the thumb.
To Elevate an Element:
Press the ‘Thumb’ at the base of the corresponding finger.
To Diminish an Element:
Fold the corresponding finger at the base of the thumb and press the back of the corresponding finger with the thumb.
Duration To Practice A Mudra
Any mudra or gesture takes about 30 seconds to get triggered to create the electromagnetic circuit within the body that allows the passage of energy. It should at least be held for 2 minutes or as long as possible. Ideally, if yoga mudras are practiced for 45 minutes in a 24-hour period including morning, afternoon and evening, it brings about peace, harmony and helps in balancing the various Doshas. These mudras can be done anywhere, be it home, office, or while waiting somewhere.
Types Of Mudras
There an innumerable number of mudras that help in uplifting the general emotional well-being. But the five main types of mudras are:
- Hasta Mudra (i.e. hand gestures)
- Mana Mudra (i.e. head gestures)
- Kaya Mudra (i.e. postural gestures)
- Bandha Mudra (i.e. lock gesture)
- Adhara Mudra (i.e. perineal gestures)
The following vital mudras are further subdivided into several more. Out of those, some selective ones that improve physical and emotional well-being are:
- Physical Wellbeing: Gyan Mudra, Vayu Mudra, Surya (Agni) Mudra, Prana Mudra, Prithvi Mudra, Varun Mudra, Linga Mudra, Shunya Mudra, Apan Mudra, Apana Vayu Mudra, Rudra Mudra, Ganesha Mudra
- Emotional Wellbeing: Varada Mudra, Pushan Mudra, Adi Mudra, Ksepana Mudra, Samana Mudra
Here are two simple yoga mudras for better physical fitness and mental wellness, that will help accomplish the goal of holistic health.
Prithvi Mudra For Enhanced Stamina
First, sit comfortably in the sukhasana pose with legs crossed comfortably over one another and palms placed flat facing upwards on each knee. Bend the ring finger inwards such that it touches the tip of the thumb. Keep the other three fingers pointed away and stretched out completely. Hold this prithvi mudra for 60 – 90 seconds, breathing in and out in a synchronized manner, then release the pose.
Prithvi mudra helps beat fatigue, reduce body weakness, exhaustion and instils ample energy, endurance for better productivity, physical health.
Mushti Mudra For Stress Relief
Be seated on a flat even surface in any convenient pose – sukhasana, vajrasana, padmasana. Rest both the palms, one on each knee, making sure to turn the inner part of the hand upwards and loosening all pressure from the area. Now inhale deeply and bring in all the five fingers of both hands together, grasping them in a clenched fist position. Maintain this stance for 30 – 60 seconds, with normal breathing, then gradually open up the palms again.
Mushti mudra works wonders in dispelling built-up tension, nervousness, stress in the mind, banishes all negative emotions of fear, anger and infuses calmness and peace for mental wellbeing.
Mudras can be described as emotional, psychic, devotional and aesthetic gestures or attitudes that help in healing the mind and body when practiced in compliance with yoga asanas, pranayamas or simple meditation techniques. In combination with these subtle physical movements which alter mood, attitude and perception, Mudras can bring about an ultimate rejuvenation of the entire body.