Mudra is a bodily posture or a symbolic gesture and literal translation of Sanskrit word means “seal of authenticity” Sometime referred to as hand yoga, they are usually the fingers, hands, arm and eye positions but some mudras involve the entire body. Choice of mudra by yoga and meditation teachers depends on the desired outcome of one’s practice. Different mudras are used to stimulate the mind, parts of the body or to affect the flow of prana (life-force) in the body to create certain states of consciousness. Some of these mudras may also be known by more than one name.
There are four basic categories:
- Hasta (hand mudras) - conducive for meditation, and help mind to go inward, generally work by preventing the dissipation of prana (life-force) from the fingertips
Examples: Gyan Mudra, Vayu Mudra, Cosmic Mudra, Surya Mudra
2. Mana (head mudras) - an important part of Kundalini yoga
Examples: Shambhavi Mudra (Gazing up at the 3rd eye), Nasikagra Drishti, (Gazing at the tip of your nose), Bhuangini Mudra (Cobra respiration)
- Kaya (postural mudras) - combine physical postures with pranayama (breathing) and concentration.
Examples: Prana Mudra, Vipareeta Karani Mudra (Inverted psychic attitude)
- Bandha (lock mudras) combine hand mudra and bandha (body lock),
Examples: Mula Bandha (Root Lock). Uddiyana Banda (Diaphragm lock),
Jalandhara Bandha (Neck Lock or Chin Lock), Maha Banda (Triple Lock)
There are over 200 mudras in bharatanatyam and over 250 in mohiniattam. However in Kundalini Yoga and meditation practices, typically108 mudras are used.
The effects of a mudra are evident if it is practiced with both the hands. Suggested time duration depends anywhere from 1 to 45 minutes on a daily or twice-a-day basis. Regular practice of these mudras will provide you wonderful physical, mental and spiritual benefits.
Please remember that one does not usually practice mudras while doing walking meditation.
Namaste – Cathi