Yoga Science of Hand Gestures – Hasta Mudra Vigyan
‘Mudra‘ means a seal! In Yoga, one can make mudras with hands, eyes, whole body etc. All these mudras work in harmony with other healing methods and, done regularly, can have wonderful healing effects. Therapy with mudras offers very effective results. It works through the energy system of the body – nadis, chakras, marmas. Hasta Mudras are the gestures made with hands.
Our hands gestures express our inner feelings and deeper consciousness.We see mudra used, though in a crude form of common hand gestures, every day: we make an ‘o’ when things are OK, or give a ‘thumbs up’ sign, and we express peace by raising the index and middle fingers, which can express the opposite if the hand is reversed! This is one of the greatest secrets in yoga, right at the tips of your fingers! You can take your yoga practice and even your health to a completely new level by touching your finger-tips in some particular way. These particular finger positions are called ‘hasta mudras’, or hand gestures, or energy seals.
Hasta Mudras or hand gestures allow you to direct the developed awareness of the vital energy (prana) within your body. By using mudras in your yoga and meditation practice, you can facilitate healing, balance your energy levels, focus your mind, and deepen your meditation. Holding a mudra, or hand position, during an asana practice brings a powerful and profound steadiness and focus to your practice. You can even control your breath through mudras. Mudras can generate a strong psychic effect upon the inner being and facilitate spiritual advancement.
The hand and finger positions of mudras or hand gestures make important connections in the nervous system and stimulate specific energy pathways (nadis). It is also said that mudras increase energy and blood circulation to different parts of the brain, to important nerve junctions and glands.
Early yogis mapped out the hand areas and their associated reflexes which relate to the different areas of the body and brain. These areas of the hands and fingers also affect emotions and behaviors. By curling, stretching, crossing and touching fingers to other fingers and areas of the hand we can effectively communicate with the body and mind.
Certain mudras in yoga control the involuntary physiological processes and the breathing. Mudras accomplish this by uniting various marma points in the fingers that in turn activate different areas of the brain as well as the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
One example is when you join your hands together palm-to-palm in Namaste or Anjali mudra; this brings marmas together and nerve circuits in the head and the upper part of the body in the vagus nerve system are united together. This produces a physiological response that induces calmness and a deeper breath.
Your hands are essentially an energy map of consciousness. Each finger has a quality that it represents and stimulates. In traditional yoga,
- the little finger represents tamas (inertia)
- the fourth or ring finger represents rajas (activity, action, passion);
- the middle finger represents satva (purity, peace)
- the index finger represents the atma or individual soul; and
- the thumb represents the Parmatama or Supreme soul.
The fingers also affect the elements of the body, the chakras, the major organs, and even planetary energies.
Perhaps the most basic mudra in yoga is accomplished by touching the thumb and the index finger together to form Gyan Mudra, or the seal of wisdom. You can also say that this mudra symbolizes the union of the individual soul (index finger) with the Supreme soul (thumb).
There are hundreds of mudras in yoga, yet mudras are rarely taught extensively in yoga classes. You can facilitate healing, expand your consciousness, relax your mind, and improve psychological conditions by simply touching your fingers and hands together. Mudras are easy to perform at any time, although sitting in the lotus position and focusing on the healing is desirable. Although mudras can be used for healing certain ailments, regular practise of mudras will contribute to your overall good health and can be used as a preventive measure. Continuous practice of the mudras will produce changes in your body using pulse centres on parts of your hands, which trigger certain healing processes.
Mudras are performed with both hands at the same time, unless otherwise specified. ingers should remain comfortable during the procedure and not held stiffly or tight.
The science of Mudra Vigyan is amazing. Mudras can be quite effective in some illnesses like: Shunya Mudra for ear ache, Apan Mudra for urinary infections, Mritsanjiveni Mudra for heart attack are some of the examples.
Our body is composed of five elements – earth, water, air, fire and ether (space). These five elements also form cosmos. These five elements have assigned functions in our body to keep it healthy. After intensive research, Indian sages found that Hastamudras (hand gestures) are very important, for keeping a balance in the energy the flow among the five elements. All five fingers regulate the five elements of body.
These are as follows–
(a) Thumb – Fire element
(b) Index finger – Air element
(c) Middle finger – Space or ether element
(d) Ring finger – Earth element
(e) Little finger – Water element
Fingers in Vedic Astrology
According to Vedic Astrology, the Jupiter (index) finger, when long, indicates a love of power and command over others; when short, it denotes a dislike of responsibility and lack of ambition.
The Saturn (middle) finger, when long, indicates prudence, love of solitude and a reserved, studious disposition; when short, it denotes frivolousness and a general lack of seriousness in all things.
The Sun (ring) finger, when long, indicates a love of the beautiful, a desire for celebrity status and fame; when excessively long, the tendency towards notoriety, speculative risk-taking, the love of money and gambling; when short, it denotes a dislike for all these things.
The Mercury (little) finger, when long, indicates mental power, a grasp of languages, and the power of expression, especially in speech; when short, it denotes difficulty in speaking and expression of thoughts; when crooked, with an irregular Head Line, it denotes a handicapped mentality.
Hasta mudras are helpful in maintaining good health and getting relief from diseases. Joining the tips of the fingers or pressing by thumb, regulate and balance respective elements in the body. Its daily practice can keep oneself healthy for life. It has tremendous healing power and if practiced properly, even major diseases can be cured. It also offers happiness and spiritual attainments.
How to perform hand mudras
Mudras in general are actions of hands and fingers that can be performed at any time in any way, like sitting, standing, walking or travelling though maximum benefit can be derived by doing them in sitting posture: especially in sukhasana (easy pose), vajrasana, or padmasana. If you have time constraints, you can even perform them in installments.
Timing and duration for mudras
Initially, mudras should be performed for at least 10 minutes and then can be extended to 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Here are some guidelines for performing Mudras:
- Balance, Decrease, Increase :
- Touching the Tip of the Finger and Thumb Balances the Element represented by the Finger.
- Touching the Finger Tip at the base of the Thumb Decreases the Element.
- Touching the Thumb Tip to the base of the Finger Increases the Element.
- A light contact between the tips of the thumb and the fingers is sufficient, you need not apply pressure.
- Fingers not actively involved in the Mudra should be straight.
- Whenever possible, perform the Mudra with both hands. Mudra can be performed with one hand when there is problem on opposite side.
- Mudras can be Practised anytime, anywhere.
- Mudras can be performed by anybody, facing any Direction. Mudras are universal.
- Chanting of Mantras [eg: Aum, Gayatri, Om Namah Shivaya] with Mudras gives better results.
- Suitable dietary advice can reinforce the benefits of Mudras.
- For therapy, the specific Mudras are to be practised for 50 minutes, followed by Prana Mudra.
- Prana , Apana , Prithvi and Gyana Mudra can be practised for unlimted time . Other Mudras must be practised till the problem persists.
Here are some representative Hasta Mudras or Yogic Hand Gestures:
Gyan Mudra or Mudra of Knowledge
Join tips of index fingers and thumb and keep three fingers straight. Keep your hand at your folded knee, remember to keep palm facing up. Put a little pressure on joined tips and rest of the hand would be in relaxed position.
Mudra of knowledge – it connects you with universal knowledge. The tip of thumb correlates to the pituitary and endocrine glands. When you press these centers with the index finger the two glands work actively.
Practice it for 20-30 minutes every day.
Enhances memory, sharpens intellect, enhances concentration and prevents insomnia. When practiced regularly, it will relieve psychological disorders like hysteria, anger, depression etc. It also prevents headache, loss of sleep, tension, anxiety, depression and fears. It helps in spiritual attainments.
Prithvi Mudra or Mudra of Earth
Tip of the ring finger touches the tip of the thumb with the other three fingers stretched out.
Reduces all physical weaknesses.
Has no particular time duration. You can practice it any time you want.
- Helps to increase weight for weak life-force people
- Improves the complexion of skin and makes the skin glow
- Promotes body functionality
Varuna Mudra or Mudra of Water
Tip of little finger touches the tip of thumb with the other three fingers stretched out.
Balances the water content and prevents all diseases which come due to lack of water.
Has no specific time duration. Can be practiced according to convenience.
- Retains clarity in blood by balancing water content in the body
- Prevents the pain of Gastroenteritis and Muscle Shrinkage
Vayu Mudra or Mudra of Air
Keep the index finger on the base of the thumb and press with the thumb keeping the other three fingers straight.
Prevents diseases that occur due to imbalances in the air.
The practice of this mudra for 45 minutes reduces the severity of disease in 12 to 24 hours. For better results practice for 40-60 days.
- Relieves Rheumatism, Arthritis, Gout, Parkinson’s disease and paralysis without any medicine
- Useful for Cervical Spondilytis, paralysis of the face, and pressure on nerves in neck
- Relieves gas pressure in the stomach
Shunya Mudra or Mudra of Emptiness
Keep the middle finger at the mount of Venus and press with the thumb.
Reduces the dullness in the body.
One can practice this for 40 to 60 minutes daily until relieved.
- Relieves an earache within 4 or 5 minutes
Useful for the deaf and mentally challenged
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Note : You should check with your health care professional before starting this or any new exercise program or breathing routine. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, migraines or heart or lung ailments. Women who are pregnant or think they might be pregnant should consult their physician before performing any of the breathing or physical exercises.
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