Mudras for Your Health
How does a mudra fit into your health and fitness routine and for that matter, just what is a mudra anyway? Mudra is a Sanskrit (ancient Indian text) word that means mud (“joy”) and ra (“to give”). It is a hand gesture that seals the energy of the universe into the body, leading to a higher state of consciousness. We could call a mudra a hand gesture for good health.
We are all familiar with hand gestures. Some, like a wave or outstretched hand signify welcoming and warmth while a raised fist may signify anger or defiance. Gestures are considered a form of non-verbal communication. Most often the communication we participate in is non-verbal. It ranges from facial expressions, body movements and appearances, to touching, voice intonation, environment and gestures.
Although we are all familiar with gestures, it is important to remember that not all human gestures have universal understanding. Depending upon the culture different meanings are attached to different gestures. For example offering food with the left hand is considered a grievous insult in India where the left hand is reserved for cleansing the body and not to be used as an offering. The A-OK gesture is another gesture that is considered poor taste and insulting in some countries such as Brazil.
Mudras are mystical hand gestures or a symbolic language whereby the eight fingers and the two thumbs represent the ten life currents that ascend and descend up and down the spinal column bringing energy to your body-mind. The fingers have one of the highest concentrations of nerve endings in the body. When we take the fingers and bring them into a mudra, we are creating a closed circuit, bringing the life current back into the spine and into the chakras or energy centers. This is called a regenerative system, as in electronics, where we take a small amount of energy and regenerate it back into the system.
The meaning behind the mudras is the symbolic energy we regenerate back into our body-mind. It is a non-verbal communication between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. They are like powerful affirmations, but so much more.
In yoga, when the conscious and the subconscious mind are in harmony, we create peace and this peaceful state creates perfect balance within the body, mind and soul. When the energy of the body-mind is in perfect balance we create perfect health. Think about it for a moment. Perfect balanced energy creates a state of homeostasis and homeostasis creates perfect health.
A mudra and the manner in which it is formed, communicates a specific message. When we hold a specific mudra, we are communicating to the subconscious mind a message, which if repeated, will embed deep within the subconscious and thus manifest into our being.
My favorite mudra and the one we do in my yoga classes is the Chalice. The chalice is a cup. The purpose is to fill it. We sit in hero’s pose or easy cross legged pose and build the cup by placing the right hand on top of the left hand and then press the tips of the thumbs together. To build the cup we draw the left hand in reminding ourselves to be at peace with our life just as it is. The right hand is then drawn in and placed on top of the left as a symbol of contentment. The thumbs are then joined to symbolize the cup being full because when we are at peace and content our cup is always full. Closing our eyes we take three deep breathes. This brings the body, the mind and the soul to a moment of quiet peaceful contentment. It only takes three deep breathes to fill your cup.
Mudras are an important part of yoga and unless you are performing them you are not really practicing yoga. Yoga is about directing energy in the body, the mind and the soul. Using gestures (mudra) we generate and regenerate a deeper sense of meaning and this brings to our being the joy (mud) of giving (ra). And what better thing to give than the joy of good health?!