How well do you know the power you wield in the hand and arm? Gestures you use to make a conversational point or with the flick of a finger express your anger each convey a strong message. In Hatha Yoga it is believed that hasta mudras (hand postures), along with eye, and body positions can subtly increase, decrease, or focus the energy to places in the body requiring healing attention. In other words touching your finger tips in particular hand gestures acts like a thermostat to help regulate your vital energy, known as prana.
A human’s aural energy is said to extend out from the physical body an average of four feet. One way to measure this is to extend your arms out to the sides stretching from right finger tips to left finger tips. Now turn your body in a complete circle and from head to toe should be the width of your energy body. Each of your fingers represent one of the five elements of nature; the thumb is fire (agni), the forefinger is air (vayu), the middle finger is ether (akash), the ring finger is earth (prithvi) and the little finger is water (jal).
With the belief that the roots of all disease lies in an imbalance of one of the five elements, hand mudras can be a powerful tool in healing the body-mind. Today there are a number of energy modalities where the therapist acts as a conduit to help open a patients blocked energy channels. This is done with the touch of the hands and in some cases, such as Reiki, no touch needs to happen.
The use of hands to move vital energy has been found in cultures worldwide. The Japanese energy modality, Jin Shin Jyutsu, can be said to employ healing mudras when holding each finger for a certain length of time.
The most common mudra you will recognize is the Atmanjali mudra, or hands in prayer. This brings together your right and left body-brain to clarify and shape an intention, wish or request in the form of a prayer. Placing your palms together in front of your heart calms the mind, brings balance to the body and creates a sense of peace and gratitude in the mind.
One very effective method to balance aural energy is to practice yoga using specific mudras. Hand mudras are thought to connect with particular areas of the brain and thus communicate with both the physical and energetic bodies. They can be done sitting on a chair or floor, lying down, standing or while out taking a walk.
Use a light pressure to the fingers, while keeping the hands relaxed. This may seem easy, but the hands can mimic the flexibility of your body and grow tired from holding a certain position too long. A Hatha Yoga practice can help to stretch and strengthen your hands and wrists, which will assist you in holding the mudras for longer periods of time, some positions requiring 15-45 minutes a day. When holding for long periods is not possible they can be divided into 2-3 daily sessions.
The Gyan (also known as Jnana), mudra is a familiar mudra to begin your practice. According to Indian mudra researcher, Keshav Dev, practicing this mudra daily ensures mental peace, sharpens concentration, relieves tension, depression and insomnia.
To begin, make yourself comfortable and gently touch the pads of your thumb and index finger together. Keep the other fingers relaxed and upright. Lay your hand on your thigh with the fingers pointing upwards, rest your mind and bring your focus to your breath.
Think of your fingers as electrical extensions that send out, receive and internalize energy frequencies. These energetic vibrations can be applied for healing, stimulating or relaxing purposes and when combined with other mudras and breathing techniques can be quite powerful. Practice, Grasshopper, and learn.