Sacred hand gestures are seen across cultures and in most traditions of the world, dating as far back as ancient Egyptian times. In India, mudras have been used in various contexts and have played several important roles. Here, I will touch on the role of hand mudras in relation to the spiritual. From tantric practice to meditation/prayer and yoga, hand mudras are powerful tools. There are dozens upon dozens of them. In this article, I will turn toward those noted in traditions within the continent of Asia.
It’s only been about a decade since I truly immersed myself in the practice of yoga. Like so many Californians, my yoga journey began with Asana – that’s the physical postures/poses (by far the most well-known of the 8 limbs of yoga). I must admit, I didn’t really like it nor was I ever drawn to it. The same is true now. However, I attended classes for years because it was a way to bond with friends or simply add some movement into my day. As I continued attending yoga classes, somatic psychology courses, and meditation groups, I was introduced to other limbs of yoga, such as Yama, Niyama, Pranayama and the meditation limbs – these practices grabbed hold of my attention. I also recognized similarities among these and other schools of thought promoting inner development and spiritual growth. It was during this period that I was introduced to mudras.
While mudras, in general, support self-care, empowerment, and help one to recharge and re-energize, they can also help draw one inward during yoga practice. Their use can channel the energy flow of the body, thus impacting mood, as holding a mudra position actually stimulates different parts of the body. Years later, when I began studying yoga nidra (a sleep-based meditation) it was easy to notice how certain hand mudras could help me prepare for this type of mediation practice.
According to an article by Linda Sparrowe and Nubia Teixeira in Yoga Journal (May 5, 2020), “Every mudra has a particular purpose and moves the energy in a specific way throughout the body to create subtle physical, mental, and emotional changes. For example, if you come into your meditation practice feeling agitated or anxious, placing your palms face down on your thighs will usually calm and ground your energy. If you feel sluggish or sleepy, a palms-up mudra might enliven you.”
Today, I want to share one particular hand mudra that was initially taught to me by Dr. Delaney during our time together from 2008 to 2010. She was the first psychologist to ever speak to me about the power of mudras and raved about one mudra in particular that is known for benefiting the heart, mentally, emotionally, and physically. It has become my go-to! I made a short video to demonstrate, so click here. Or see the embedded video below:
This is best done with both hands, sitting with straight spine and with eyes closed. Make an intention for healing the heart while holding this mudra, and do some conscious deep breathing for about 3 minutes. The time can be extended with practice and can be done a few times each day. I hope you discover something beautiful – enjoy!
In addition to those noted above, my inspiration for writing this article also came from Sabrina Mesko’s book Healing mudras: Yoga for your hands (2000), as well as Gertrud Hirschi’s booklet with mudra card set titled Mudras for body, mind & spirit: The handy course in yoga (2006/2014).
With joy & a warm heart,