Do you incorporate mudras into your personal yoga practice? Or are you a tad bit unfamiliar as to what they even are?
If you know they have something to do with your hands, but beyond that they remain a mystery—this article is for you!
I love mudras. Sometimes, I place my hands in anjali (prayer) mudra in front of my heart throughout the day just to check in with myself and get quiet. It immediately centers me and reminds me that all of life—even the most mundane (or perhaps especially the most mundane)—is sacred.
It also ushers in sensations of self-love, which I need from time to time—especially if I’ve been sleep deprived or had some kind of hiccup in my mind and heart.
Other times, when I’m sitting cross-legged while meditating, I put my hands into gyan mudra, which invites an element of calm into my being that further quiets the mind, making me feel more centered and grounded to meditate with greater ease. It also helps me focus and concentrate on the meditation practice at hand.
There are more than 100 mudras within the pantheon of yoga, and they’ve been created over the course of thousands of years by sage yogis. As such, the power of mudras is very real. (Learn more in Top 10 Mudras for Your Yoga Practice.)
Let’s take a look at how mudras have a powerful effect on the mind, body, and spirit.
Why are Mudras so Powerful?
According to yoga, like asana, mudras help get life force energy flowing within the subtle body. They can help balance this life force energy, also known as prana. (Learn more in 3 Ways to Control Prana With More Than the Traditional Breath.)
They can also help release blocked energy—to get it flowing fluidly where it may have been stuck.
During our meditation practice while we’re sitting, rather than doing physical yoga postures, these mudras (hand gestures) work like asana do. In this way, they’re the perfect complement to sitting meditation practice.
Do Mudras Impact the Brain?
It’s also believed that the power of mudras lies in their ability to positively impact our brains. Different mudras stimulate different parts of the brain.
That’s why we need to study each, individual mudra if we’d like to intentionally affect a particular part of the brain that might need attention.
Linking Mudra and Pranayama
Yet another way power of mudras is their synergistic effect when we combine them with breathing techniques (pranayama). Yoga and yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, believe that to further stimulate the flow of balanced prana throughout the subtle body, we can practice different pranayama techniques in conjunction with different mudras.
Depending upon what kind of healing needs to be done, we’ll choose a particular pranayama practice, along with a mudra that complements our breathing.
Mudras Enhance the Journey to Enlightenment
The end goal of the yogic journey is enlightenment. And, it’s a journey of a lifetime, if not many lifetimes.
Mudras are said to speed up that process because of their power to help transform our state of consciousness.
Consider how your consciousness changes after placing your hands in front of your heart in anjali mudra. There’s almost an immediate change in my state of being when I make the gesture—and a positive change at that.
Imagine how mudras might have the potential to further impact states of awareness the deeper you go with them. There are mudras out there than you’ve never even seen or practiced. Like asana, the possibilities to go deeper down the path with mudras are endless!
Mudras Help Awaken our Spiritual Nature
Take the example of prayer (anjali) mudra again. When we take this posture, we tap into our spiritual nature—in the same way we do when we say namaste to someone and mean it.
There’s something profound about practicing these sacred hand gestures that naturally brings out our sacred nature within. (Learn more in Connect With Yourself: 5 Mudras for the Heart.)
Mudras Span Spiritual Traditions
Not only do spiritual seekers practice mudras within the yoga tradition. Buddhist meditators and martial artists also use mudras to enhance their spiritual journey to enlightenment. This further supports the power of mudras.
They’ve been used for thousands of years amongst many spiritual traditions.
The Hands are Powerful Energy Centers
When you consider just how many nerve endings are contained within the hands, it makes sense that they would be powerful energy centers for the subtle energy body. Science tells us there are thousands of nerve endings in our hands.
That’s powerful in and of itself.
Ayurveda tells us that it’s within our hands that we find the endpoints of our energetic pathways (nadis). Consider Chinese medicine, which uses reflexology for healing. Reflexology, which has been practiced for thousands of years, uses acupressure points in the hands and feet to balance energy within the rest of the body.
Find Your Power
As you can see, the hands are powerful, and so are mudras! I encourage all of you to become curious about mudras.
Explore them further and implement them into your yoga, pranayama, and meditation practice. Delight in what you discover!