Mudras are gestures of the hands, face or body that cultivate physical, emotional and spiritual health and balance. Coming out of a 5000 year old yogic traditional, they were originally developed to calm the fluctuations of the mind, leading to spiritual enlightenment. However, using hand gestures and body language is an essential method of communication which we all use in daily life.
Our hands and fingers contain a large number of sensory and motor nerve endings, which makes them a powerful tool for communicating with our own body and brain and with the world around us. Hands and fingers are also very dexterous with the potential for expressing a wide range of physical and psycho-spiritual qualities.
Different Mudras direct energy very quickly to parts of our being—physical, emotional, psychological, belief system and spiritual. Unlike most medicine, the effect can usually be felt immediately.
This makes them an effective tool for healing emotional issues such as depression and anxiety, or physical conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive problems, reproductive ailments, headaches, balancing the immune system, to name a few. Many can be used effectively for stress relief and deep calming or for fatigue and lack of energy. They can be used for balancing the doshas in Ayurvedic medicine (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), the five yogic koshas (physical, energetic, psycho-emotional, wisdom and bliss bodies), and for preparing the mind for deep meditation. They can greatly enhance the breathing capacity and, conversely, the effect of Mudras can be in turn enhanced by Pranayama, yogic breathing techniques.
On another plane, Mudras can enhance the yogic qualities of timeless wisdom (Yamas and Niyamas) such as non-violence, truth, non-stealing, purity, non-attachment, surrender, discipline, etc., balance and enhance the energy centers (Chakras), assist prayer and devotion and cultivate the qualities that awaken wisdom and lead us on the path to spiritual freedom.
The bottom line is that the practice of Mudras helps us remove the barriers, whether physical, mental, psychological, emotional or spiritual, to who really are—our essential nature.
Mudras are a companion to Yoga, but can be used to enhance any healing modality in any health or spiritual setting.
*From the book Mudras for Healing and Transformation by Joseph and Lilian LePage, Integrative Yoga Therapy, IYTyogatherapy.com.