Mudras in yoga are hand gestures that can help to control the flow of prana (vital life force energy) to the body. They can be used in various ways while meditating, during physical asana practice and during breathing/pranayama techniques. Mudras can offer both physical and mental benefits as well as preparing the mind for mediation.
Mudras for Modern Life by Swami Saradananda is a lovely book that I have been practising and reading from that offers over seventy mudras. The chapters of the book focus on mudras connected to each of the five fingers and the palm. Each finger is said to connect to one of the five elements of Indian Philosophy: fire, air, ether, earth, water, and the palm relates to the mind.
Whilst looking at the root chakra last month in class, we practiced the Prithivi Mudra, which is also known as the Earth gesture. In the Warrior I pose we added this variation with the hands and finished off with this gesture in the closing seated pose.
How to practice
Resting the back of the hands on the knees, join the tips of the thumbs to the pad of the ring fingers of the same hands with a gentle pressure. The other fingers are then extended but relaxed.
- Nourishes the solid elements of the body muscles, bones and hair
- Helps to strengthen the body and reduce fatigue
- Enhances stability and balance
- Can encourage you to feel content and enthusiastic
- Can improve self confidence
Practicing mudras can be simple and anyone can do to it, so give it a try!
Unlike yoga postures and breathing exercises, which are best learned from a teacher, mudras are easy to pick up and totally safe to practice by yourself. Absolutely anyone can benefit, from children with learning disabilities to older people with limited movement. If you have little spare time, mudras make the perfect form of exercise: you can practice while waiting for a bus, taking a break from the computer or watching TV.