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what are mudras?

what are mudras?

by kara rane kara rane
Practice Yoga | Types | Mudras


the power of healing at your fingertips



"What is" Series video created by Brett Larkin for Yogi Times


Mudras are elaborate hand and finger gestures which have symbolic meaning as visual language. As physical postures, their energetic powers can be directed to heal our bodies.  The word ‘mudra’ in Sanskrit means “sealing in the energy”.

As visual language, mudras signify specific meditative practices, particular deities, and cultural rituals, such as dance, painting and sculpture. Each subtle physical movement conveys meaning to the viewer and to the practitioner.  The non-verbal communication retains the efficacy of the spoken word, relating such concepts as the ‘Good Law’, courage, adoration, and knowledge. These symbols point the way toward the goal of attaining Enlightenment.

My own deepening experience with mudras began with my will to heal - and in this case it was my hand!  While living on a tiny, remote Caribbean island one of my fingers was broken.  Due to an impending hurricane, it would be 10 days before I could get to the "main island" and see a doctor.  When I finally arrived at the hospital, I was told there was nothing that could be done for a broken finger, the nurse put it in a brace and told me that in 6 weeks it would be fine.

When the brace was removed, my finger would not bend.  The joint looked odd, and I had zero mobility.  My finger and hand ached to be fluid again, yet it was locked straight. The x-rays revealed my finger joint was obstructed by chipped bone, now mended wrong.  The doctor informed me I would be "crippled, and to deal with it."  I actually did for a moment, and then in the next I resolved that this would not be.

As a healing modality, the fingers are understood as electrical circuits, re-directing the free flow of energy (prana) that is present in these discharge points.  When focused back into the body with intention, specific results can be obtained to achieve balance within.  Each finger is characteristic of an element: the thumb is fire (agni), the index finger is air (vayu), the middle finger is ether (akash), the ring finger earth (prithvi), and the little finger is water (jal).  In accordance with the oldest healing science of Ayurveda, life (ayus)+knowledge (veda), we are composed of these elements or building blocks.  All disease is due to an imbalance in the body caused by lack or excess of any of these elements, and once balanced the body can then heal itself.  Thus, Yog Tatva Mudra Vigyan is a science based on the principle of Ayurveda, and is an entirely distinct, independent branch of supreme Yoga.

Modern science has confirmed that there are concentrations of free electrons surrounding the tips of every finger.  When tension is applied to the fingers and parts of the palms, the energy is directed through the body along specified nerve conduit channels (nadis), radiates from central nerve locations (chakras), and flows back up to the brain.  This balancing and re-direction of the internal energy effects change to occur in the veins, tendons, glands and sensory organs, allowing the body to be returned to a state of wellness.  Mudra Vigyan, therefore, is also a neural science as it relates directly to the nerves.

There was only one hand surgeon in the entire Puerto Rican territory that might be able to repair my finger. Overcome with obstacles, it became apparent the only solution was to get medical attention in the United States.  It was a year and a half before the bone was re-broken again in order to heal correctly.  The hand specialist had yet to see someone who had endured a stuck straight finger for such a length of time and was not certain the operation would be succesful.  I had dreams of bending my finger, of releasing the blocked energy that had no place in which to express itself. 

The number of different mudras are count-less, many are esoteric and others newly created.  Mudras have been in use for millenniums, evidence of their practice being found on every continent, by all religious people and even among those professing no religion.  They are natural to the body, and many unconsciously apply this practice simply by touching their hands and fingertips in an instinctual way.

The profound transformation that occurs in the body and mind upon practicing or viewing the mudras generates various personal qualities such as clarity, contentment, self-confidence, fortitude, and happiness.  The accomplishment of  siddhi (perfection in fulfillment) of a skill, capability, or faculty can also be achieved through mudras.  This is to be known through the results of physical, mental and spiritual balance, but can lend itself to super natural abilities such as clairvoyance, levitation, bilocation, and psychic intuition.

My journey to recovery with mudras has lead to a healing of not only my hand and finger, but my relationship with the world.  I experienced the crippling effect of the body, but worse than that was the despair one feels when they have been injured by another human being.  When hurt physically in any way, there are also psychological injuries that need to be tended to.  By practicing many of these ancient postures, I was able to feel a force greater than myself, to be above the chaos of right and wrong, to encounter expansive peace, a freedom beyond suffering, and forgiveness in Love.

Mudras connect ourselves to a higher understanding, a knowing of our own being, and an experience of One~ness that can be realized as God.  This is a focus in life, to awaken the spirituality that lies within and allow our radiance to shine outward in perfect harmony.  It is unity with the divine we seek to attain, a sealing of energy emanating in wholeness.  Mudras are an art and science perfected through wisdom, they imbue tranquility, balance, and serenity for You and all the Universe.





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