Mudras are hand positions that are often used in combination with yoga poses and breathing exercises to affect the flow of prana, or life energy, throughout your body. An increase in prana flow is said to prevent the imbalance of the five elements of the body, which are air, water, fire, earth and ether, which refers to space and the essence of emptiness. The mudras are meant to help increase prana flow by stimulating various parts of the body that are related to breathing. There are numerous mudras, but among the basic ones are the Chin Mudra, Chinmaya Mudra and Adi Mudra.
Significance of Mudras
According to Ayurveda, a discipline of natural healing originating from the Vedic culture of India, a lack or excess of any of the five elements of the body leads to disease. Each of the five fingers represents one of the elements. The thumb represents fire. The index finger represents air. The middle finger represents ether. The ring finger represents earth, and the pinky finger represents water. During a mudra, a particular finger is brought into contact with the thumb, and as a result, currents that are found throughout the body bring that element into balance and help to maintain and restore health.
The Chin Mudra, or Gyan Mudra, is designed to raise the element of air and reduce anxiety, alleviate headaches and improve sleep patterns. In turn, it helps to bring happiness, develop intellect and improve memory. To perform it, sit in vajrasana, and with each hand, hold the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your index fingers together lightly. Extend the three remaining fingers of each hand so that they're as straight as possible. You don’t need to firmly press the tips of your thumb and finger together; they only need to touch. Rest your hands on your thighs with your palms up and focus on achieving rhythmic breathing for two to three minutes.
The Chinmaya Mudra is meant to reduce stress and blood pressure and create a sense of grounding. Sit in vajrasana, and with each hand, hold the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your index fingers. Curl the three remaining fingers of each hand into your palms. Set your hands on your thighs with your palms facing upward and breathe deeply for two to three minutes.
The Adi Mudra, also referred to as Adhi Mudra, is designed to calm the nervous system and combat anxiety. To perform the mudra, sit in vajrasana and fold your thumbs into your palms so that each touches the base of its respective pinky finger. Fold the remaining three fingers of each hand over the top of the thumb to create a fist. This time rest your hands on your thighs with your palms facing down and breath deeply for two to three minutes.