Mudras are a natural activity
- Literal meaning of ‘Mudra’ is gesture. Mudras are an integral part of human life.
- Observe a person who is caught in the emotional turbulence. His or her fists will be clenched.
- Two index fingers of a man are joined together, when a person is in deep thoughts.
- When a person intends to show respect both the hands join together.
- When a person wants to plead, both the hands will take the shape of a begging bowl.
- When an individual wishes to dare a person, his index finger shoots forward.
- When someone is astonished or amazed, he expresses his thoughts by joining the tip of his forefinger with the tip of the thumb resembling a zero.
- When a person intends to shower blessings on somebody, his hand will open up like a blossom .
- Humans, irrespective of the language they speak and the places they live, expression of inner feelings through gestures or mudras are same anywhere in the world.
Gestures are the language of the heart
When a school boy is thirsty. He folds all the fingers of his hand in to his palm and points his thumb towards his mouth. This is enough for the teacher to understand that the boy is thirsty.
The point to be noted here is, the thumb according to scriptures of yoga symbolizes Agni or fire. In order to douse the fire, water is needed.
Similarly, if the boy shows his raised small finger, it denotes that the boy wants to go to loo. Again the point to be noted here is according to scriptures of yoga, small finger signifies water.
Gestures are the basis for Mudras in Yog Shastra
A variety of Mudras mentioned in Yog Shastra are said to be the curatives for a plethora of mental ailments. The scriptures add that these Mudras are the controlling points of ‘Prana Shakti’ or life energy.
The five elements in the nature
The creator is a great artist. He can an elaborate painting on a tiny mustard seed. He can convert the endless sky in to a vast canvas. The tiniest thing in the creation and the universe are alike when it comes to the constituents. Five elements namely Air, Earth, Fire, Water and sky are the constituents in the creation. The man, considered as the tiniest molecule compared to the vastness of the creation too is made of the Five elements. If there is an imbalance in the constituents of the creation, there will be chaos. The same chaos will take place whenever there is an imbalance of Five elements present in the humans.
There are seven power centres in human body. They are Moolaadhara, Swadhishthana, Manipuraka, Anahata, Visuddha, Aajna, Sahasrara Chakras. They represent different glands in the human body.
Tri Doshas or three body humors in the human body are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata whose function is to mobilize the nervous system, Pitta is responsible for the functioning of the metabolism of the body and Kapha is responsible for the lubrication smooth carrying of nutrients in to the arterial system. All the three Doshas as long as they are in the prescribed composition humans will remain hale and healthy. Any imbalance will lead to all kinds of sufferings.
So, it is revealed in the ancient scriptures that all the five elements or Pancha Bhutas, seven Power centres and Tri Doshas or three body humors are closely inter connected with human fingers. The thumb is related with the Agni. The index finger is related with Air. Middle finger with sky. Ring finger with bhuta. Small finger with water.
Among all the five elements Agni or fire is believed to be the chief element. And as said above, Agni or fire is related with the thumb. Without thumb no primary Mudra or gesture can be formed. From the formation of a particular Mudra, the power flows in that direction. The entire body is activated. Mind becomes tranquil and peaceful.
Mudras are like switches
If one switch is on, drawing room is filled with light. Another switch lights the bedroom. Akin to this, Mudras activate a system in the body.
Mudras are as old as Vedas
A reference about Mudras can be found in Atharva veda. Hathayoga Pradipika ,Hatha Ratnavali and many ancient scriptures discussed the importance of Mudras. There are similarities between Mudras and Chinese Acupressure. With little variations Mudras are being practiced in Japan and Tibet. During the peak period of Buddhism, Buddhist monks from India might have propagated these Mudras in those countries. Historians say that the Egyptian Mummies were laid in the pyramids in a type of Mudra postures.
Classification of Mudras
Chin mudra, Chinmaya mudra, Adi mudra, Merudanda mudra, Brahma mudra are known as Basic mudras.
Dhyana mudra, Akasa mudra, Prithvi mudra, Jala mudra, Prithvi mudra, Vayu mudra, Sunya mudra, Agni mudra and Varuna mudra are known as Tanmatra mudras.
There are mudras related with tri Doshas , Vata, Pitta and kapha like Pranopana and vyonodanasamana are there. At one time it was believed that there existed more than one thousand mudras. Presently, there are only 108 mudras in vogue.
Unfortunately these mudras were kept as closely guarded secrets by the Yogis and Gurus of yore. Owing to this reason mudras did not get due exposure to the world. These mudras remained undisclosed for a long time.
Today, the world is turning towards Yoga
Owing to the fast paced life of modern times and the failure of mainstream medical system like Allopathy in providing effective cure for the ailments without side effects and for many such other reasons, people world over started turning towards the traditional and ancient medical systems. Prominent among them is Yoga. Along with Yoga, Mudras which are an integral part of Yoga gained prominence all over the world. A new type of tourism, known as ‘Medical tourism’ has come up in a big way in India. Foreigners from different countries are queuing up to come to India to get Yoga therapy from states like Kerala. This itself speaks volumes about the effectiveness of Yoga.
How yoga and other alternative medicines are different from mainstream medical systems?
Yoga is Holistic
What does it mean? Yoga treats the person as a single unit. It takes in to consideration mental, physical and social factors in to account. Not just physical factors. To put it simply, in Yoga therapy physical factors or the symptoms of a person are just a part of the treatment. Where as in western medical treatments it is the only factor taken in to consideration.
Owing to this reason Yoga goes to the roots of the ailment and treats in such a way that the ailment doesn’t recur. In the mainstream treatment there is every chance of recurrence of the ailment. And the most dreadful part is it brings in a plethora of side effects. Yoga is non invasive sans side effects.
Yoga is confirming its veracity
Yoga has been dismissed as a mere quack therapy in the beginning by the western medical systems only to maintain the monopoly. With the time, and with the interest evinced by Indian and western scientists, Yoga proved its veracity.
Mudras impart mental strength. In a study conducted by National academy of science confirmed that a feeling of achievement or a feeling similar to the elation that takes place after reading a good book takes place during Yoga mudra.
A small investment – Big returns
In a study conducted by the university of Pennsylvania, it was revealed that if one can spend 12 minutes of time for eight weeks, one is sure to get clarity in thoughts, an emotional equilibrium and an immense memory power..
In the studies conducted by Bihar School of Yoga, many interesting and stunning facts have to come light further strengthening Yoga’s veracity
So easy yet so effective
Yoga mudras compared to Yoga Asanas are pretty simple to do. Of course an expert’s guidance is needed in the beginning. After the brief initial guidance one can continue the practice of Yoga mudra without anybody’s assistance.
‘Like yoga one need not get up early in the morning to do Yoga mudras. Yoga mudras can be done at any time. One can do during journeys, while walking, while talking with somebody. Anytime is ok with Yoga mudras’, says Dr. Suman Chuplankar in her book, “Mudras and health perspective – an Indian approach.”
Best of two worlds
With the continued popularity of yoga, more and more studies are conducted bringing out more stunning facts about Yoga. According to a study, if Yoga mudras are combined with Pranayama the benefits found to be manifold.
Pranayama is a combination of two words. Prana and Ayama. Prana means the vital force, the energy within everything in the creation. Ayama means control in simple terms. This means controlling the vital force with a definite and stipulated way. A superlative health, courage, conviction and a sturdy mental equilibrium that never wavers or oscillates.
Mudras are just like injections, which give instant results. And the combined effect of Mudras and Pranayama are beyond words and the best of two worlds.
Owing to the effectiveness of Mudras, a new therapeutic way, Known as ‘Mudra Therapy’, branched out. In the CAM, Complimentary Alternative Medicine system, Mudra therapy has been included. That is, Mudra therapy and mainstream medicine are combined together.
Some Mudras and their benefits
Scriptures of yore affirmatively saying that there are many Mudras for curing many ailments. Some of the Mudras and their benefits are given below.
Chin Mudra : When the tip of the index finger and the tip of the thumb are combined, Chin Mudra forms. Organs starting from naval to the fingers of the legs are vitalized and strengthened.
Chinmaya Mudra : Tips of Index finger and thumb are joined and bent. Remaining three fingers should be folded inside the palm. Organs between naval and throat are energized.
Adi Mudra : Bend the thumb and fold and place all the other fingers over the thumb. People suffering from low blood pressure should avoid this mudra. It keeps the mind in cheerful condition. All the sensory organs are energized.
Merudanda mudra: The thumb should be kept erect. The remaining four fingers are folded inside the palm. Problems related with spinal cord are cured.
Brahma mudra : Thumbs of both the hands should be folded inside and the remaining four fingers are folded over the thumbs. Then both the hands should be brought together and kept so that the folded fingers are kept up. And in this posture the two hands should be kept in the naval region.
Jnana mudra : Tip of the thumb and the tip of the index finger should be kept in touch with each other. The remaining three fingers are to be stretched forward. Memory and concentration are enhanced.
Mudras are antidote for modern day ailments
Negative thoughts have become a part of modern life especially in urban areas. Restlessness, irritation, anger, impatience have taken the front seat in the day to day life of a common man. Added to these woes, work place incidents and family disturbances have taken the toll on the mental peace of the humans. This in turn led to insecurity and uncertainty. To counter these negative effects of life Yoga has been accepted as the antidote.
Drive away the deadly addictions
Bad habits like addiction to drugs and drinks have destroyed many families. Mudras have answers to all the evils that crop up due to insecurity. Man, in order to have a pinch of happiness and a spoonful of mental piece is running towards the drugs and other bad habits. In this process, he is resorting to undesired and unlawful activities.
Mudras bring back your lost tranquility and peace of mind. They bring back the lost glory of your life which was robbed by the modern day hectic life. Mudras if done regularly can yield wonderful results. Gertrud Hirschi , who wondered if such a small activity like joining fingers in different combinations has the potential to do so many wonders, evinced keen interest in Mudras and learned all about Mudras from an Indian yoga guru.
Prior to this, Gertrud Hirschi was suffering from many mental and physical illnesses. With serious practice and determination, he mastered the art of Yoga mudras. He found that all his ailments disappeared in to oblivion. He, in his book,, ‘Mudras – Yoga in your hand’, which has become famous and a reference manual on Mudras says that whenever it becomes necessary for him to take a decision on any issue goes in to some kind of Mudra for a couple of minutes.
That is the essence of Yoga mudras.
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