What Are Mudras?
A mudra is an energetic seal. Often when people say 'mudra' they are referring to hasta mudras (hand seals); mudras are folding and connecting shapes made with parts of the body to redirect the flow of energy for a specific purpose.
One mudra you might be familiar with is Gyan Mudra (aka Jnana Mudra). Recall the image of someone sitting cross legged meditating, hands resting on knees with palms turned upwards, index fingers and thumbs connected. A classic meditative position, Gyan Mudra invites focus and invites existing energy to flow smoothly within the body. This is known as the gesture of consciousness or the gesture of knowledge.
When this seal is made with the palms facing downward, it is called Chin Mudra. Chin mudra helps one to breath into the lower lobes of the lungs.
Speaking of the lungs...
In Vibhaga Pranayama (sectional breathing), one uses hasta mudras to direct the breath into one or more of the three sections of the lungs. As mentioned above, use Chin Mudra to breath into the lowermost portion of the lungs.
To direct the breath into the middle lobe of the lungs, use Chinmaya Mudra: Index fingers and thumbs stay as they are in Chin Mudra, and the remaining three fingers of each hand are curled in towards the palm, palms facing down. Hold the hands right at the hip crease.
To breath into the upper lungs, find Adhi Mudra. Simply make fists with the thumb inside, palms facing down, at the hip crease, and notice the breath travel into the upper lobe of the lungs.
Hakini Mudra is another popular hand seal. This is where all the tips of the fingers are connecting.
This mudra brings clarity of mind, helps memory recall, improves concentration and circulation of oxygen to the brain.
For these reasons, Hakini mudra has been brought into elementary schools in recent years - the teachers teaching the students to practice this mudra to calm down and focus in the classroom.
This is a favourite of mine that I often use during balance postures. Try this hand position next time you practice Tree Pose.
Another favourite of mine is Bhu Mudra. One is seated on the floor or ground and reaches index and middle fingers down to touch the earth. This has a very grounding effect. Imagine yourself 'plugging in' to the earth's grounding energy.
What else would you like to know about Mudras? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram.