You have most likely used Mudras yourself in your yoga class or during your last meditation, and you don’t even know it - they are the hand or finger gestures that you use during these activities to direct your body’s energy. Mudras have been used for thousands of years, particularly in Buddhism, and you can clearly see the significance of them when looking at the various Buddhist statues – they often have their hands in certain positions. But they are also prevalent in other religions as well. In Christianity, crossing of the fingers for prayer is a Mudra, as well as the “Namaste” Indian greeting gesture, where the hands are held in front of the chest with the palms touching. Mudras have been, and still are, used as a spiritual practice and are believed to be a way to connect to a higher understanding.
The ancient sages believed that the human body is made up of 5 elements, and each of these elements is represented by one of the five fingers: Fire (thumb), Air (index), Space (middle), Earth (ring), and Water (little). Our fingers are believed to hold energetic points for these elements and Mudras start electromagnetic currents that keep these elements in balance. And when any element is out of balance, practicing a Mudra can bring it back to a balanced state. For example, the fire element is responsible for body temperature and metabolism. It works on the alimentary system - causing thirst, hunger, and aids in the digestion of food. Disorders like loss of appetite, indigestion and obesity can be helped by the manipulation and reinforcement of the fire element.
There are hundreds of Mudras and each creates a type of “energy circuit” using your fingers and hands. But how is it that the energy flow created by one Mudra is different from the other? Think of your fingers as colored electrical wires -and like electrical wires, each finger gives off a type of energy that connects to a specific part of your body and mind.
Though there are many Mudras, there are 10 that are more commonly used today for their efficiency in providing health and empowerment. The most popular being the Chin (Gyana) Mudra used in yoga – we all have probably seen this one. The tips of the thumb and index finger come together, while keeping the other three fingers together, lightly stretched – it looks like an O formation. This symbolizes the unity of fire and air as well as the unity of universal and individual consciousness. It also increases concentration, creativity, and is a gesture of knowledge.
We know hand signs can be a powerful way to communicate – just show someone a thumbs-up gesture and you are signaling approval, but turn that thumb upside down and that message changes instantly. Mudras are similar, except that we are not communicating with another person, it is more of a wordless communication with our body and deep consciousness. Recent research on the functions of the brain has shown that hand gestures activate the same region of the brain as spoken or written words, so Mudras can play a vital role in our everyday lives.
1.) What is a Mudra?
A. The Spanish word for mother
B. Hand or finger gesture used in yoga
C. A religious chant used in Buddhism
D. The Sanskrit word meaning energy
E. A common yoga position
2.) Mudras are only found in Buddhism:
3.) The human body is made up of how many elements?
4.) The fire element is responsible for what?
A. Body temperature and metabolism
B. Skin complexion
C. Eye and hair color
D. Kidney function
E. Mental stability
5.) The most commonly used Mudra is called:
A. Mushu Gai Pan
B. Aloha Ha
C. Shuni Pi
E. Prada Om