Welcome to Mudra Monday!
To begin this series I thought it was best to learn some background. I know you may be anxious to start learning and using mudras, but it is important to understand some history before you dive right in. Let’s get started!
What are mudras?
Mudra is a Sanskit word that has been translated to mean gesture, attitude or signature. More specifically the movements (gestures) induce psychological and spiritual attitudes that carry specific qualities (signature). Mudra is a combination of the root words mud and rati. Mud has been translated to mean delight or pleasure. Rati translates “to bring forth.” The practice of mudra help us awaken the inherent delight that is within us and waiting to be brought forth.
Although in this series we use the Sanskrit name for mudras and identify with the Indian spiritual traditions, many cultures globally use and practice mudras. In fact we use mudras (gestures) in our everyday body language. Crossed arms, clenched fist or open arms are non-verbal language to communicate moods and attitudes.
Mudras are in several categories, not just hand gestures. They can also be facial and even full body gestures. However hand gestures are the most common for a variety of reasons:
Regular use of the hands support the health of the hands overall and may aid in prevention of conditions such as arthritis
The fingers and hands contain many sensory nerve endings that trace back directly back to the brain and other parts of the body
Hands and fingers are very dexterous allowing for a large number of combinations to awaken psychological and spiritual qualities
Each finger corresponds to an element further contributing to the wide possibilities for balancing elements and health
Thumb - Fire
Index - Air
Middle - Space
Ring - Earth
Pinky - Water
How do Mudras work for us?
Mudras include inherent positive qualities that we refer to as core qualities. These are a part of our spirit that mudras help us to bring to the forefront. Mudras are a gateway to revealing our true being and supporting our mental and physical journey.
Mudras allow one to explore various facets of Yoga philosophy and psychology. They allow for a near direct and immediate benefit for those who use them. Another facet of mudras is the breath. Practice of mudras are in tandem with the practice of optimal breathing. The breath also serves to help balance our subtle bodies.We can channel our “prana” or life force energy to certain areas of our body to invigorate or help alleviate blockages.
How do we begin?
This first week is about getting used to bringing the practice into the forefront of your mind. It is ideal to practice mudras several times a day up to 5 minutes each session. For this week the goals is to practice breathing and sitting still at least 3 times a day. When you wake up before you get out of bed and right before you get into bed are two easy times to remember. That leaves at least one additional time for you to identify where you can consistently sit still for a few moments. Once you identify your times you can complete the following steps:
Sit upright with legs uncrossed OR lay flat on your back with legs and arms uncrossed.
Place one hand on your chest just below your collar bone
Place the other hand just below your rib cage and above your belly
Ensure that your mouth is closed and jaws un-clenched
Breathe in slowly through your nose to a count of three. You should feel the hand beneath your rib cage rise as your abdomen expands. Hold the breath for three counts.
Exhale through your nose to a count of three. You should feel your stomach muscles contract inwards to your body. Hold the breath for three counts.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 one more time.
Repeat steps 5 and 6, but eliminate holding your breath only breathing in and out for three cycles.
You’ve now completed a five breath cycle. Let this be the start of your mudra practice this week. Take time out at least 2-3 times a day, each day to breath with intention and focus.
A special thanks to Arti Datta and https://themudrafoundation.org for allowing me to use photos from their website to help share knowledge and benefit of mudras.
Page, J. L., & Page, L. L. (2014). Mudras for Healing and Transformation (2nd ed.). Integrative Yoga Therapy.