For centuries we have used our hands as a means of communicate with each another as well as to perform gestures. With the help of specific mystic hand positions, we can communicate with our higher selves.
Ancient Indian texts and literature like the Vedas, Puranas, Upanishads include special references about the significance of mudras. Mudras have immediate benefits like harmonizing the five elements, managing the tridoshas – Vata, Pitta, Kapha – and creating a synchronized Prana system.
In continuation to the previous article, Mudras: The Healing Power in your Hands, which speaks about beginner mudras, this article will discuss the advanced mudras which everyone can practice.
Ashwini or horse is one of the most powerful, sturdy, and magnificent animals out there. According to Yogis, the horse taps into this innate power and speed by contracting the sphincter immediately after emptying the bowels.
Apana Vayu (the downward and outward movement of breath, which results in elimination of the toxins from the body) is regulated with the help of Ashwini Mudra, which is connected to digestion, erection, excretion, menstruation, childbirth, etc.
Method: This mudra involves the contraction and relaxation of the buttock muscles, sphincter, perineum, and the entire pelvic region. To begin with, be seated in a comfortable position and become aware of your breath, and then move it to anal and your sphincter muscles.
Contract the sphincter muscles gently and hold it for a few seconds before releasing it. Initially, contract softly without any pressure and as you become more comfortable, increase the number of contractions and practice for as long as possible.
Benefits: An excess flow of the downward energy of the Apana Vayu results in depletion of the body’s energy.
With the help of Ashwini Mudra, we can transform the downward flow of energy into creative energy, as the contraction motion pushes the energy upwards to the spine through the main nadi, Sushumna. Also, the upward flow of the Prana increases youthfulness, stimulates the abdomen area including digestive organs, improves vitality, and allows good health to manifest. It is also beneficial for constipation, hemorrhoids, and other anus related issues.
Pregnant women are usually advised to practice this mudra as it prepares them for childbirth. Relaxation of the vaginal muscles becomes easier and it helps them to cope with pain and fatigue. (Pregnant women are advised to consult the doctor before practicing it.) Also, women with uterus problems should perform the mudras under guidance only.
Shankha or conch holds deep significance in Indian mythology and wisdom. Priests often blow a conch in the morning before opening temple gates to the masses, as a symbol of a new day, new opportunities, bring positivity, and much more.
Method: Be seated in a comfortable position and after gathering your breath for a minute or two, bring your hands closer.
Encircle the left thumb with the fingers of the right hand and place the left hand fingers at the back of the fingers of the right hand. Right thumb will extend further up to meet the middle finger of the left hand. The shape of the hand resembles a conch.
Benefits: Shankha mudra works on the throat chakra, as the left hand thumb presses gently on the point of the throat in the right hand palm. It also balances the thyroxine secretion from the thyroid gland. It also relieves speech-related issues like stammering.
Shiva Linga Mudra
Lord Shiva holds a deep significance in Indian mythology. This mudra is a representation of the form of Shiva lingam worshiped in temples. The folded hand represents Shiva and the stretched hand at the base represents Shakti. This mudra is used for many purposes, but the shape represents the union of two energies.
Method: Be seated in a comfortable posture, keeping the back upright and in line with the neck and head. Gather your breath and bring the left hand closer to the abdomen.
Keep the fingers stretched out and held closely together. The right hand is seated on the left hand palm, the fingers are wrapped in the form of a fist, whereas the thumb of the right hand is extended upwards, pointing towards the ceiling.
Benefits: Shiva Linga Mudra is practiced to overcome everyday ailments like cold and cough. It is also practiced in cold weather conditions, as the heat generated from this mudra keeps the body warm. The mudra heals the entire body (irrespective of the region), balances the Prana system, tones the nervous system, and calms the mind.
Matangi stands for one of the many forms of Goddess Parvati. It refers to inner harmony and regular practice of Matangi mudra connects the practitioner with the energies of the solar plexus chakra. It brings about peace with oneself and the environment.
Method: Be seated in a comfortable position and direct your focus to your breathing. After a few minutes of deep breathing, bring both the hands closer to the solar plexus chakra and lock all the fingers, forming a fist with two hands.
The middle finger of both the hands is kept straight and extended forward. As you stay here, imagine Agni or the sacred fire washing away all the fears, impurities, self-doubts, etc.
Benefits: Matangi mudra is useful to calm an overactive mind, relieve stress and anxiety. It balances the element of fire, strengthens the digestive organs like gall bladder, pancreas, liver, intestines, etc and also enhances the functioning of the hypothalamus.
A well known Yoga textbook, Hatha Yoga Pradipika states, “The Vedas and the Śâstras are like ordinary public women. Śâmhhavî mudrâ is the one, which is secluded like a respectable lady.”
Shambhavi mudra is a highly regarded practice in yogic and tantric texts, as one can experience higher stages of consciousness. This mudra is named after Shambhavi or Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva.
Shambhavi symbolizes Shakti, the divine energy, that lies dormant at the base of the spine in the root chakra. When it is awakened it activates all the chakras until it unites with the third eye chakra, which is the seat of Shiva.
Method: Be seated in a comfortable, meditative posture like Sukhasana (Easy Pose) or Padamasana (Lotus Pose) and bring the mind inward. Sit with a slightly upturn face, as in this position there is a natural focus between your eye brows, maintain this natural & casual focus between the eyebrows and just be. Continue in this position for 3 to 6 mins, and slowly open your eyes.
With practice one will be able to see the meeting point of the eyebrows, ‘V’. Concentrate on the lower dips of the V region. It is best practiced under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher.
Benefits: Shambhavi mudra can be practiced daily during meditation to bring about a profound inner transformation. It activates and balances the third eye chakra. Apart from this, it strengthens the eye muscles and increases vision, both physically and metaphysically, and helps gain control over one’s wandering mind. Shambhavi mudra increases the alpha brain waves, boosting creativity and concentration.
Yogic science enlists multiple ways to tap into the energy flow of the body, and the different mudras is just one of the many. Practice these five mudras based on your preferences to witness their benefits over a period of time.