mudras: healing gestures
by Megan Padilla, Licensed Esthetician and Certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor
Mudrās are gestures made with your hands, facial expressions, and body postures as a way to send messages throughout your being. Essentially, it is a form expression which carries a flow of energy that may be felt spiritually or therapeutically. They can be empowering, soothing, grounding, healing, and overall promote well-being.
Mudrās are said to be as old as human civilization and that there are “as many mudrās as living beings on earth, including human and other life forms.” Mudrās are a non-verbal form of interpersonal, intrapersonal, and transpersonal communication and self-expression. They have the power to radiate harmony throughout and can also be therapeutic by bringing the five elements within us back into balance. Therapeutically, this would be communication at intracellular and intercellular levels.
Mudrās can translate to a “seal, gesture, or symbol.” When formulating them, they literally act as if they are sealing the energy and sending it throughout your entire body. While mudrās can be performed a few ways, hand mudrās are most popular and are quite easy to incorporate throughout your day when needed, or as part of your daily routine.
Each finger correlates with the five elements; thumb with fire, index with air, middle with ether/space, ring with earth, and little finger with water. Uniting the fingers and the thumb is what ignites the energy to flow. The outcomes vary depending on which gestures your thumb and fingers are making as each placement gives off a different effect. This is because each element carries it’s own energetic qualities.
If you squeeze or press the sides of your fingers, it may have an emotional effect while also and affecting the organ which corresponds to the finger. You can balance an element by touching the thumb to your fingertip(s). You can increase or cleanse an element by touching the thumb at the base of your finger(s). To decrease an element, you would curl your finger(s) into the center of the palm while pressing your thumb on top of the finger(s). To neutralize an element, you would curl your finger(s) at the base of the thumb.
Mudrās are most beneficial to practice during times of transition throughout the day; morning, afternoon, and evening. As those are the times where cosmic energy is said to be at its peak. It is also recommended to practice in the same setting (daily) unless you need the mudrā for any specific reason, you can absolutely practice whenever and whenever is necessary based on your needs.
It is also important to practice on an empty stomach, specifically therapeutic mudrās. You will want to practice your mudrās for about 2 to 5 minutes, however once feeling confident in your practice you may choose to go up to 45 minutes which can be split into smaller portions throughout your day. Although you can practice mudrās anywhere at anytime, with the exception of eating and working, it’s important to make sure that you have a clear mind to enable yourself to drift into a meditative state. This will help to deepen your mudrā practice and provide you with optimal benefits.
If you are able to carve out some time during your day to practice, practicing in any seated pose is great to enhance relaxation. Some recommended seated poses being adept pose, diamond pose, and lotus pose. You may also do this in friendly pose, seated in a chair. Being comfortably seated is really to honor the power of the mudrā and to dedicate your entire attention as a whole; mind, body, and spirit. It will allow you to be present and able to receive the gifts that mudrās are capable of giving.
Please note that if you are physically unable to be in a seated position, lying down is just fine for practicing.
Keep your awareness on the mudrā and allow yourself to stay present with each breath. As you connect be sure to observe any changes that you may experience; pattern of your breath, body temperature, even the taste in your mouth. The sweet taste represents the earth element which symbolizes repair in the body. Any other taste that may be experienced should result in tongue rotation exercises. To do this exercise, rotate your tongue over your teeth while under your lips clockwise until the sweet taste is present.
Feeling pulsations between your fingers and palms is completely normal and actually signifies that there is a positive flow of energy taking place for you. It is important to note that if it any point you feel any discomfort, dizziness, nausea, or notice a dramatic change in body temperature you should stop practicing the mudrā. The goal is to have a positive experience and you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
When performing mudrās you may choose to say affirmations and/or visualize an intention which fits best with the specific goal of the mudrā. Your affirmations can be done out loud or silently and what you visualize is ultimately your choice. For example, I like to visualize a cleansing white light entering my aura. You can also visualize a sense of releasing, clearing, cleansing in whichever form resonates with you.
The entire world is undergoing a huge shift with so many changes taking place and a lot of fear subsiding from this global pandemic. Everyone is experiencing this in their own way, but we must not forget that we are all in this together. Not only has this brought fear forth, but also worry, anxiety, anger, confusion, denial. It’s completely normal and even healthy to feel all of these as we all process what is taking place. However it’s crucial we balance out those emotions by taking the courage to tap into ourselves with a reminder that we are strong and will rise above. Within the many mudrās, there are handfuls that can help bring you back down to earth to claim your power and uplift your spirits. Below I have included a few mudrās that are easy enough for the beginner to practice that will help ease the mind and give you courage, ignite hope and instill trust, and uplift your spirits through balance.
Information sourced from Mudrā The Sacred Secret written by Indu Arora
To seal intention and reclaim your power
This mudrā is also referred to as the “mudrā of resolve” and influences you to be in the present moment. While being present, this allows you to also acknowledge the past and the future within the infinite space that holds it all together. This mudrā helps you reclaim your courage and self-confidence while instilling emotional and mental clarity and balancing all five elements.
Not only is it important have a vision of your goal(s), but to also have a vividly strong intention to reach them. Start by having your finger tips touch while leaving an open space in your palm. Then allow your thumbs to rest next to each other above the open space. Visualize your intention or goal in the center of your palms. Keep the mudrā at heart level yet slightly away from the body with your elbows comfortably bent. This can also be practiced with your palms facing one another on top of each other, wrapping your top hand’s fingers down around the bottom hand’s thumb, and bottom hand’s fingers wrapped upwards on the top hand’s little finger side. Sankalpa Mudrā also has a relaxing affect.
Supreme enlightenment gesture
This is one of the ten most important Buddhist mudrās around. Uttara which translates to “realization” and Bodhi is the expression of “to be an enlightened one.” It also symbolizes the connection within, union, and balance. You may choose to chant a mantra or practice this mudrā silently.
Interlace your middle, ring and little fingers and touch your index fingers together at their tips while extending your thumbs up and connected at their tips. There are two ways to perform this. The first version you would interlace your thumbs and hold this at your solar plexus, parallel to the floor. The second version you would keep your thumbs pointed together at the tips but moving your hand’s position so your thumbs are pointing to the earth while your index fingers are pointing towards the sky, this symbolizes union and transcendence of polarities. Uttarabodhi Mudrā is very uplifting and energizing whichever way practiced.
Vajra means “diamond” and “lightning bolt” and also “thunderbolt” which all represent indestructible, illuminating power. Along with such bold characteristics, it also pertains to the true self which holds those meanings. Pradama is the “confidence” and “trust.” With such strong energy attached to the root words, this is where the “unshakable” trust comes from, being supported by the inner strength that comes forth.
With your palms facing upwards, begin by interlacing your fingers in front of your chest. Keep your hands open while gently stretching your fingers. This symbolizes a web in front of the heart center which ultimately represents acknowledgment of being connected to all that exists while instilling a sense of compassion for ourselves and others. Vajrapradama Mudrā helps to let go of doubt while also giving you a strong sense of hope with the obstacles you may be facing.
A cornerstone of an Ayurvedic lifestyle, self-massage calms the nervous system, improves sleep, increases the production of oxytocin, or the “loving” hormone.