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All about Mudras

May 2, 2011

MUDRAS

Yoga is about self-control and awareness of yourself, your body and your surroundings. Hatha yoga consists of postures, breathing, energy locks and energy seals. A mudra is an energy seal. It is a gesture or posture that allows us to control the flow of our energy or life force (prana). There are 25 mudras in Hatha Yoga. Mudras are not restricted to hand gestures, but can be done with the eyes, body postures or take the form of cleansing rituals. The gestures themselves are symbolic of various states of consciousness. However, certain gestures can lead to the state of consciousness that they represent. So, practising a mudra can alter your state of consciousness.

Mudras are not confined to yoga. Some of them are international signs. Consider the ubiquitous handshake. What does it say? ‘Hello, pleased to meet you’. It is a physical touch with someone else, and in the old days it said ‘Look, I carry no weapon’. In ancient times the gods were called by raising both arms to the sky. As Christianity became powerful this gesture was prohibited and was then partially integrated into the Christian teachings during Mass. Hand gestures are prevalent in our lives today. When a friend goes for an interview we ‘hold thumbs’ for them. We clap at the theatre to show our appreciation. One of the first gestures and words that a small child learns to use together is to wave and say ‘bye bye’. We hold hands with our loved ones and some of us stick our middle finger into the air when another driver cuts us off. These gestures are understood by all and they carry certain energies.

Most of us enjoy watching Indian dancing but we have no idea that an intricate story is being woven by the dancer. All those hand an eye gestures are mudras and are recognised and interpreted by those that know what they mean.
Our hands, like our feet, are made up of reflex zones and are very sensitive. Our hands and feet contain more nerves and endocrine glands than any other part of our bodies. When we practice a hand mudra and connect the fingertips, palms and hands in certain ways we activate, redirect and recharge the energy of our entire being and the body’s energy is magnified. Everybody knows about chakras these days. They are very fashionable! They are energy centres in the body – much like the electricity substations found scattered around any city. However, every body also has 72 000 nadis. These are electric or pranic currents that run from the crown of the head to the toes of the feet and the tips of the fingers. One could compare the nadis to the power lines that supply our houses with electricity. (The major crossings of the nadis form the chakras). Mudras have an intense effect on the nadis. Each finger represents an element, a chakra, a planet, a body organ and an emotion. Each finger is also the ending of a meridian. Mudras can be enhanced with breathing exercises, mediation, mantras, colour, affirmations and music. The thumb is associated with the fire element, the lung meridian and the planet Mars and represents willpower and logic. The index finger is associated with the air element, the stomach meridian and the planet Jupiter. It represents the mind and the power of thought. The middle finger (not to be held up in the traffic) is associated with the ether element, the circulation and gallbladder meridians and the planet Saturn. It represents our spiritual path. Hindus call it the ‘heavenly finger’. The ring finger is associated with the earth element, the liver meridian and the sun (or Apollo, the sun god). It represents vitality and health. The little finger is associated with the water element, the heart meridian and the planet Mercury. It represents communication, sexuality and personal relationships. Our hands are important.

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Amber Land completed her yoga teacher’s training at Ananda Kutir Yoga Centre in Cape Town in 1992 and has been teaching yoga ever since. She is trained and teaches in the Sivananda Integral Yoga Style, incorporating what she considers the best aspects of other schools into her teaching. amberland@vodamail.co.za | www.hathayoga.co.za

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