Hand and fingers have been known to have healing powers for thousands of years. As yogis use their hands and fingers to practice specific mudras to heal and balance their energies, so do energy workers, healers, massage therapists, reiki healers use their hands to heal and balance the energy of the people they are healing.
Sadhguru, the Indian spiritual master, says the hands are the control panel to everything. He says, “Hands are capable of many things apart from eating and doing physical work. You can make these hands in such a way that if you move it here, you can make something happen somewhere else and pinpoint it wherever you want it because these hands are the instrument to everything. This is like the control panel to everything.”
It’s all about energy, and our hands and fingers are one of the main energy vortexes in the body where a large amount of prana and spiritual energy can be accessed and moved. For example, in Qi gong, hands and fingers are used to move Qi (life force) throughout the body.
Similarly, Mudras are used to move energy around throughout the body with certain gestures performed by the fingers and hands. For this reason, the art and science of mudras is known as finger yoga.
This article will take you on an in-depth journey and guide you through the universe of yoga mudras and shine a light on their healing benefits and the immense spiritual transformation they bring when practiced accurately and sincerely.
What is mudra?
Let’s start with the basics. A mudra is a gesture performed by the hands, mainly the fingers to guide the energy flow to a specific part of the body for healing, rejuvenation, and spiritual transformation. A mudra is a seal that aids in the flow of prana throughout the body with the help of gestures performed by the fingers.
Each yoga mudra has a specific name, a unique energy signature, and a function. Different mudras are associated with different body parts and help cleanse and balance the energy in that specific body part.
Mudras are a tool, just like meditation and yoga. The way we move our bodies with various yogic asanas for our healing and spiritual awakening, the same way we move our fingers for healing, balancing the energy flow and spiritual transformation.
Mudras are used by yogis and are usually practiced in combination with their meditation and pranayama practice. Mudras are also Buddhist hand symbols used by Buddhist practitioners in their meditation practices.
Apart from being a vital part of yoga, hand mudras are an essential part of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam. The beauty and use of various mudras have been mentioned in multiple ancient religious texts which reflect the rich and golden history of mudras.
For example, the Dhyana mudra has been mentioned in ancient Hindu, Buddhist, Pali, Marathi, and Sanskrit texts describing in great detail the function and beauty of Dhyana mudra, which is essentially a hand seal and gesture to deepen the meditation (Dhyana) practice.
Ancient yogic texts and various religious scriptures shed light on how mudras are used to balance the five elements in the body. Yogic and religious texts both describe the correlation between the five fingers and five elements of the body:
- Thumb Fire
- Little finger Water
- Ring finger Earth
- Middle finger Sky
- Index finger Air
When there is an imbalance in our body, these essential five elements and our bodies are not working in harmony with one another, which causes sickness, anxiety, stress, and other diseases.
When mudras for healing are exercised with yogic practices like asanas, pranayama, meditation, they bring balance to the imbalances within the five elements, which leads to the restoration of health and spiritual transformation.
Types of Mudras with pictures
There are hundreds of mudras practiced for thousands of years. There are mudras for sleep, for health and healing, for well-being, weight loss, spiritual awakening, and so much more. In ancient yogic and religious texts, for every aspect of life, there is an asana, a meditation practice, a breathing practice, mudras for chakras to help human beings to become their best selves.
Gyan in Sanskrit means knowledge. Gyan mudra is one of the most practiced and common meditation hand mudras in the world. It is a simple mudra that helps us gain knowledge and insight. Yogis and meditation practitioners use this mudra to gain insight and knowledge of themselves and the world during their meditation practices.
This elegantly simple mudra helps sharpen the focus and concentration, giving the mind more in-depth insight into the topic you are meditating upon.
Technique: Gyan mudra is performed by touching the tip of your index finger to the thumb. The remaining three fingers are held straight while the tip of the index finger and thumb are touching each other. The elements of fire (thumb) and (air) are the focus of this mudra.
The Dhyana mudra is gracefully seen on many Buddha statues and paintings. Dhyana is the seventh limb of Ashtanga yoga and means concentration and meditation. Dhyana mudra helps us develop deeper meditational states by helping us access more profound states of concentration.
The Buddha often used this yoga mudra in his meditation practices, which took him deeper into his meditation (Dhyana) and helped him achieve deeper states of inner tranquillity and peace.
Technique: To practice the Dhyana Mudra, simply rest your right-hand fingers and palms facing upwards on your left palm. The left palm gently holds the right palm while the thumbs of both hands gently touch one another.
The right side of the body holds the masculine energy, and the left holds the feminine energy. This mudra helps to bring a sublime balance to the feminine and masculine energies within us.
Prana in Sanskrit means breath. Our breath is our divine life force that makes life possible. Breath is our life force, which makes the world come around. This divine prana is within us and all around us. The prana mudra helps in purifying our life force and activates dormant life force and energies.
This mudra is one of the most potent mudras as it is directly connected to the very thing that keeps us alive. When we don’t regulate our breath, the energy in our body becomes stagnant, leading to lethargy and sickness.
The prana mudra, when practiced with pranayama practices and meditation, helps with regulation and cleansing of our life force and energy systems. This mudra helps us feel active, energized, and filled with energy.
Technique: To practice this mudra, touch the tip of your thumb to the little finger and ring finger while the middle finger and index finger remain straight. Notice how lock between the thumb and the little finger and ring finger, creates a seal, known as mudra, which regulates the prana in the body.
At first glance, it is easy to confuse Vayu mudra with Gyan mudra as the same fingers are used. But the effect Vayu mudra differs from Gyan mudra, and the way the fingers are placed is vastly different.
Vayu means the air in Sanskrit. This mudra helps to heal diseases that are associated with the element of air like gas problems, bloating, joint pain, and abdominal pain. It also helps with problems related to the air element on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level.
For example, overthinking is an imbalance of the air element in our energetic body. Vayu mudra helps calm the racing mind and gives a sense of peace and calm, healing the imbalance of overthinking. This is also an excellent mudra for sleep and will help you sleep like a baby.
Technique: To practice the Vayu mudra, press the thumb of the knuckle of the index finger as opposed to the tip of the thumb in Gyan mudra. As you gently press your thumb on the index finger’s knuckle, keep in mind that this mudra is meant to relax, so do not press to the point of stress, only to the point of comfort.
Rudra mudra is associated with Shiva as Rudra translates to the word ‘lord’ in Sanskrit. Rudra mudra helps us activate the inner Shiva, the inner masculine. It energetically impacts the solar plexus chakra, the chakra of power, and it helps activate our transformative abilities.
This mudra helps heal our issues with power, often related to the solar plexus chakra. It helps purify and cleanse the energies of fire (thumb), air (index finger), and earth (ring finger) in our energetic bodies.
Rudra mudra helps to heal dizziness, exhaustion, and tension in the body by energizing the body with the fire of the solar plexus. You can use the Rudra mudra to help you reach your highest potential as it also brings about clarity of thought and concentration.
Rudra mudra is an excellent mudra for weight loss as it helps burn fat while activating the energies of fire within and removing impurities from the body.
Technique: To practice the Rudra mudra, place the tip of your thumb on the tip of the index finger and the ring finger while your middle finger and the little finger remain straight.
Benefits of mudras
Each mudra is unique and holds its own energy signature. Every mudra has its unique function and the way it is performed with its own healing power and benefits.
Stress and anxiety-relieving
The number one problem faced by most of the human population is stress and anxiety. Mudras, whether practiced in isolation or combined with a meditation and pranayama practice, help relieve stress and anxiety from the energetic and physical body.
Uttarabodhi mudra, Gyan mudra, and Vayu mudra are some of the best yoga mudras to heal stress and anxiety within.
(Here we can insert an infographic of various chakras and the mudra for each chakra)
The human body has primarily seven main chakras located on various parts of the body from head to toe. When our chakras are working in harmony, we experience clarity of thought and peace of mind.
Each chakra can be healed and harmonized with a mudra. For example, the sacral chakra is the chakra of sensuality and sexuality. The Shakti mudra helps in purifying, cleansing, and healing the sacral chakra’s energies, thus bringing more profound harmony into the individual’s energy.
As mentioned above, Rudra mudra helps heal and balance the energies of the solar plexus chakra. The Padma mudra helps heal the heart chakra and open the heart energies so that our actions are guided by love and compassion. There are various mudras of chakras that help heal, balance, and transform our life.
Mudras are multi-dimensional in nature, i.e., they affect not only the physical body but also the mental, emotional, and spiritual level. When accurately and sincerely practiced, Mudras bring about the healing of our mind, body, and soul.
They bring emotional healing by helping us release stuck emotions in the body. They bring mental healing by clearing the mind of unwanted and excessive thoughts. Along with healing physical ailments, mudras also bring a profound spiritual transformation by helping us activate the dormant spiritual energies within.
Not only do mudras help us achieve a sharper focus and concentration, they activate higher spiritual energies within us, which bring about a profound spiritual awakening within us. This is why mudras are not to be played with and taken lightly.
They need to be practiced with respect and sincerity. Incorrectly practicing the mudras can lead to further imbalances in the body. It is essential to understand the mudras correctly and practice them with reverence and sincerity.
Mudras are magical tools which work only when we put in the hard work and efforts. They work for people who practice with devotion and dedication. The human body is a marvelous tool that contains in-depth spiritual knowledge about healing and spiritual awakening.
This knowledge can be accessed by ancient tools like mudras, which help move and heal energy through hands, palms, and fingers.
As Sadhguru, a wise Indian spiritual leader, rightly says, “Mudras are a subtle science of arranging your body in a certain way. The way your systems function can be altered just by changing the positions of your palm. This is a whole science by itself which essentially involves the geometry and circuitry of the body. By holding a certain mudra, the energies tend to move in a particular way. In yoga, there are systems where you can regulate your breath in a certain way, with certain counts and proportions. By doing this, you can pinpoint your energy to any cell in the body if you want.”