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Mudra is a term with many meanings. It is used to signify a gesture, a mystic position of the hands, a seal, or even a symbol. However, there are eye positions, body postures, and breathing techniques that are called mudras. These symbolic finger, eye, and body postures can vividly depict certain states or processes of consciousness. Conversely, specific positions can also lead to the states of consciousness that they symbolize. What does this mean in concrete terms? For example, a person who frequently and fervently does the gesture of fearlessness, which can often be seen in the depiction of Indian deities, will also be freed from fearfulness with time.

However, mudras are also effective on the physical level. I discuss this in the section called "Mudras and Other Hand Therapies.

In Hatha Yoga, there are 25 mudras. These also include eye and body positions asanas and locks bandhas. In this book, I will only briefly touch on them and mainly describe the hand mudras. Especially in Kundalini Yoga, the hand mudras are used during the body postures to intensify their effect. In this way, we can consider the hands to be a mirror for our body and our mind. A lock always conceals a secret. We frequently use gestures in an unconscious way to seal something; for example, when giving special weight to a decision, or reaching an agreement with another person, or even with cosmic consciousness.

In precisely the same way, we may also seal something with our inner forces—we reach an understanding with ourselves. The enigmatic touches on the Divine—so each mudra ultimately creates a special connection to cosmic consciousness or however you prefer to call the Divine.

This symbolism, in particular, is the basis of the best-known hand mudra of yoga, the Chin Mudra. The thumb is symbolic of cosmic divine and the index finger is symbolic of individual human consciousness. The ultimate or primary goal of yoga is the oneness of humanity with cosmic consciousness. With this gesture, the human being expresses this desire, this longing. It is interesting to note that both these fingers belong to the metal element in Chinese Five Element Theory see Appendix C for more about this topic.

Metal is the material that is the best conductor—it conducts energy. According to this teaching, the metal element also creates the connection with the cosmic world, and inspiration and intuition dwell in this element. The index finger represents inspiration energy from the outside and the thumb stands for intuition inner energy.

In this gesture, intuition and inspiration form a closed unity. The power of the microcosm and the macrocosm are connected and mutually fructify each other. We see that if we dig into the depths of the ancient teachings long enough—or go far enough into the heights—we will find ourselves at the other end again. Mudras are not only found in Asia, but they are also used throughout the entire world.

In their rituals, our European ancestors certainly were familiar with specific gestures, which they used to underline and seal what they thought and wanted to say. During the Christianization of the Nordic peoples, many gestures were initially prohibited, such as invoking the gods with raised arms.

Later, these gestures were partially integrated into the Christian teachings. If we observe the various gestures made by a priest saying the Mass, we can perhaps sense how these ancient peoples expressed themselves. But our everyday life is also characterized by gestures, the origins of which hardly anyone knows today: crossing our fingers for someone, clapping our hands as applause, the handshake, holding hands, or "giving someone the finger" to display our low opinion of them.

In India, mudras are an established component of all religious activities. The various mudras and hastas arm poses are significant in the depiction of Hindu gods.

In addition to body postures and attributes, they also represent the distinguishing characteristics of various deities. The person at prayer sees a special power, capability, and strength of character in these mystical hand poses.

The best-known mudras of the major gods Brahma Creator , Vishnu Preserver , and Shiva Destroyer are numbers 41, 42, 43, 46, 47, and Mudra specialist Ingrid Ramm-Bonwitt describes this beautifully, "The hands are the bearers of important symbols, which are still universally understood in the East today.

With his or her hands, the Indian dancer expresses the life of the universe. The spiritual meaning of the mudras found its perfect expression in Indian art. The gestures of the deities depicted in Hindu and Buddhist art They play a large role in Buddhism, where six mudras are very familiar in the pictorial depictions of Gautama Buddha. These are very closely related to his teachings and his life see mudra numbers 41, 43, 46, 47, 48, and Hatha Yoga also expresses the many states of mind, such as mourning, joy, anger, and serenity, through gestures and body positions.

They realize that the reverse also applies—certain gestures can positively influence the psyche. How Are Mudras Practiced? Quite simply: Form your hands and place the fingers as they are shown in the various illustrations. When you do this, the pressure of the fingers should be very light and fine, and your hands should be relaxed.

The fingers are rebellious, too inflexible, and the hands slip away or tire quickly. The flexibility of the hands has a direct relationship to the flexibility of the entire body. If we are tense at a certain place in the body, this tension will be expressed at a corresponding area in the hands.

My body and my hands have become very flexible through many years of yoga practice. Yet, I can only do the mudra against backaches, which I need the most, with one hand because I have to use the other to hold the fingers in position. At the beginning, you may perhaps also have problems in doing some of the mudras with both hands because you will first have to arrange and hold the fingers of one hand with the other. If this is the case, just do the mudra with the one hand for the time being.

If the fingers that should actually be stretched curl on their own again, simply press them onto your thigh or some other place where you can rest them. With time, the tensions will dissolve in the fingers or hand, as well as in the corresponding area of the body.

Do the mudra as well as possible and the effect will appear in any case. In the beginning, it may be difficult to keep the fingers extended. When the fingers get tired, they give in. With time, I am certain that you will gain more strength in your hands, become more flexible, and will be able to use both hands. You will also feel more refreshed and flexible. It is also possible that you will feel somewhat younger. Even when you have become stronger and more flexible, always treat your fingers in a careful and loving way.

Mudras can be done while seated, lying down, standing, and walking. Be sure that your body posture is symmetrical and centered, and that you are as relaxed and loose as possible. If you sit on a chair while doing them, your back should be straight and your feet should have good contact with the floor.

If you do them while lying down, resting on your back is naturally the most suitable position. If you stay in this position for a long period of time, put a small pillow beneath the back of your head to take the strain off the neck. To relieve your back, you can put a cushion under the hollow of the knee or thigh.

It is important to remain comfortable and relaxed, for any tension will also hinder the inner flow of energy and we want something new to flow with the mudras. If you do them while walking, make sure you move in an even, calm, and rhythmic way.

If you stand while doing them, keep your legs shoulder distance apart. The knees should be relaxed, and the tips of the toes must point forward. If you have a bit more time, you can also do the mudras in a seated meditation position—this will turn them into a longer period of meditation. Both knees should be flat on the ground or at the same height if necessary, support the lower knee with a cushion until it is at the same height as the other knee.

Always vigorously stretch your arms and legs. You can also form a mudra and think of something else at the same time. However, I have found that the effect is accelerated and intensified when you simultaneously assume a meditative position, focus on your hands, and observe your breathing.

Observing the normal flow of the breath or influencing and directing the breath is a very important way of supporting the mudra. How to do this is explained for the individual mudras. Corresponding visualizations and affirmations can be used so that this never becomes just a routine matter.

These also intensify the effects of the mudras. For some exercises, I am no longer certain what has the greatest effect—the mudra, the breathing technique, the visualized image, or the spoken word.

But who cares? It fulfills its purpose, lets you feel good, and makes you happy! You can actually practice the mudras at any time and in any place. Modern authors take the view that mudras can even be done while stuck in traffic, watching television, or when you have to wait for someone or something.

However, my opinion differs somewhat from this perspective for the following reasons: mudras should be done in a meditative, harmonious mood. I invite you to do an interesting test: place your thumb and index finger together and think about something wonderful for a few minutes while you do this an experience in nature, winning at sports, sex, etc.

Now try to feel the energy that flows from the index finger to the thumb. Now do the same thing again, but this time imagine something terribly sad. Once again, feel the energy of the fingers. Do you notice a difference? You will certainly have discovered how dull the flow of energy felt the second time.

This little experiment shows me how important it is to practice mudras while in a good mood and in a positive atmosphere.


Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands



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Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands


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