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What are mudras and why are they used?

What are mudras and why are they used?

Mudra is a symbolic or ritual gesture performed by the hands. Most mudras are performed with the hands and fingers in combination with movements of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders; some involve the whole body. Hundreds of mudras are used in ceremonies, dance, sculptural and pictorial iconography (in Buddhism). In yoga and spiritual practices, of Indian religions and traditions such as dharma and Taoism, mudras have been used for thousands of years to aid meditation and/or healing.

In the practice of yoga, mudras are hand gestures used in conjunction with pranayama (yogic breathing exercises). Mudras act to stimulate the different parts of the body involved in breathing and affect the flow of energy in the body. 

Specific hand gestures and positions act as “locks” to direct energy flows and reflexes to the brain. By touching, crossing, and stretching the fingers, and hands we can manage the body-mind connection as each area of the hand corresponds to a specific part of the mind or body. There are mudras that are performed with the whole body as well, incorporating the breath. 

On a more spiritual level, the practice of specific mudras is an outward representation of inner intentions. There are many different mudras and it is said that meditating on a particular mudra can help you manifest certain hopes, energies, or desires in your life. Mudras are a way to represent what you want to be, what you need most. When your hands go into a mudra, it allows a physical connection to an intangible desire.

How to make a mudra

The most famous mudras are easy to do and are performed during meditation in the lotus position or sitting on a straight-backed chair. Begin each Mudra session by “washing” your hands (rub your hands over each other about 10 times, keep your hands in front of your navel chakra), this will help the energy flow into your hands.

  • To perform Dhyani Mudra, place both hands like bowls in your lap, with your left hand on top, and touch the tips of your thumbs 
  • Placing the palms together in a greeting gesture “Namaste”, where the hands are held in front of the chest and the palms touch, is the Atmanjali Mudra. 

In each mudra, apply enough pressure to feel the flow of energy, but not so much as to whiten the fingertips. To use a mudra effectively, hold it for at least two minutes. You can do mudras during the day, but you could also make them part of your meditation. Some mudras are simple enough that you can even do them with your hands in your pockets without attracting attention.

During the breathing practices, you can safely hold your hands in mudra. 

You can find a lot of information about mudras, but you should keep in mind that any mudra that is performed for a specific purpose should be done for a minimum of 15-20 minutes a day to have a full effect on your body. 



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