Mudras are beautiful. These past few months I've had some wonderful experiences of the energetic power of hand mudras. During the vinyasa sequence on Mark Whitwell's dvd, we put just our fingertips together at the heart, like in prayer. I simply loved that tingly feeling-so lovely.
This past May I had my adult Bat Mitzvah, and at the end of the service, we received the ancient priestly blessing from our Rabbis. They held both hands over our class like this as they chanted the blessing "may the Lord bless you and keep you...". What a profound experience it was to receive this ancient blessing of sound and gesture! By the way, for you Trekkies out there,Leonard Nimoy, who is Jewish, reportedly borrowed the Vulcan salute from this gesture!
Mudra means "seal". These hand positions are used to lock in consciousness states. Mudras really can be done anywhere or anytime you need to focus and concentrate, and they're also integral to meditative practices. Of course many Yoga postures include mudras to enhance and intensify asana practice. Hand gestures permeate every Eastern and Western cultural and religious tradition. Hindu deities, Buddhist statues; we've all seen the peaceful beauty of the mudra. In Christianity, many images of Christ show hand gestures.
Standard advice for beginning mudra practice is to pick one or two on which to focus. Then when you feel comfortable with those, you begin practicing the next one or two. Here's a few to get you started:
Hakini. This mudra is said to benefit the brain, third eye, and lungs. It balances the right and left sides of the brain and creates cooperation between them. It's used to increase concentration and stimulate ideas. Place all of your fingers together. Place the tip of your tongue on your teeth when inhaling, and let if fall when exhaling.
Uttarabodhi. Both hands are held at the level of the chest, the two raised index fingers touch one another, the remaining fingers are crossed and folded down, the thumbs touch each other at the tips or are also crossed and folded. This mudra can be used to stimulate ideas. In Sanskrit, this is the mudra of extreme enlightenment.
Jhana Mudra. Place the tip of the thumb on your index fingertip and extend your other fingers. You can lay both hands on your thighs in a relaxed way. This is the famous hand position of hatha Yoga. In regular practice over time, it can help sharpen memory, mental concentration and thinking.
There are some wonderful books and websites about mudras. I've had a great time learning more and practicing, in fact a small group of Yogalilians have named ourselves Mudra Mavens. Let us know more of your Mudra stories! Books I Like: Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands by Gertrude Hirschi, Healing Mudras: Yoga for Your Hands by Sabrina Mesko. And here are a couple of websites to learn more: