Mudras: Yoga in your Hands
Mudras: Hands of Energy, Hands of Light
When you bring your hands together very slowly in front of your heart as you exhale, can you feel something? Some people feel resistance, tingling, heat or cold, a buzzing sensation or a kind of magnetic compression as if you were pushing two magnets of similar polarity together. If you look through half-closed eyes in a semi-darkened room as you do this, you may see a glow, or lines of light. Some people feel or see nothing; for others, the sensation is immistakeable. Between our hands we hold life energy, sometimes called prana or chi. Our bodies do not end at our skin. Our energy body pervades and extends beyond our physical body, and our actions, words and thoughts in the world influence it.
Mudras are sacred hand positions that are used in temple dances of India, Java and Thailand. They are common in the iconography of practices and cultures that have evolved from Sanskrit traditions, including yoga, Hinduism, and Buddhism, whose roots lie in India. They are also used in different forms in other healing traditions such as Reiki, where specific hand positions and signs are used to amplify the energetic healing and to transmit it over distance. Many ancient texts and contemporary practitioners of hasta mudras (hand positions) describe their effects to heal and bestow spiritual blessing and wisdom
In Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands , Swiss yoga teacher Gertrud Hirschi posits that the hands are a microcosm for the whole body, and by holding certain gestures or hand positions for various lengths of time we can influence the energy field, and consequently the health, of the entire body. She points out how science has established that the entire genetic code for the whole body lies in every nucleus of every cell, and that Eastern sages and doctors have long taught that the body, mind and soul are inherent in every fingertip, finger and the hand. This explains the usefulness of disciplines like Ayurvedic medicine, hand acupressure, hand reflexology, and palmistry. Every body part and organ has its corresponding sensitive point in the hand, connected by deep meridians of energy.
Hirschi describes and illustrates more that fifty hand mudras, as well as a few others with the eyes or whole body, that have come from many traditions but mostly from Hatha Yoga. When we practice mudras mindfully, they offer a few minutes of silent communion with the divine cosmic energies within us. Some people perceive their effect immediately, feeling heat, cold, tingling, pressure or other sensation, while others can develop sensitivity with repeated practice, but everyone can benefit, even those who are too sick, infirm or busy for a full yoga practice. As we practice the mudra, like other forms of meditation, the wind of the mind becomes quiet and still, allowing the lake of the soul to become still and transparent, bringing us the opportunity to see past the surface of constantly changing thoughts and feelings into the deep still water of our Divine essence.
Hirschi’s analysis of the Chin Mudra symbolism is especially interesting. In this gesture, often used in meditation, the thumb represents the cosmic divine consciousness, and the index finger represents the individual human consciousness. Touching the two together represents our deepest human longing, which is to yoke, or join, human consciousness to divine in Oneness. This Oneness is the goal of all yoga.
She also has some interesting brief points to make about Guided Imagery Music, with reference to the work of Helen Bonny, who has observed that oboe, piano, cello, violin, clarinet and organ are the instruments that induce relaxation most easily in listeners, especially in the major keys of C, D, B and F.
This is a reference book to be used as a guide for personal practice, for these mudras need to be experienced repeatedly to be understood. I feel they are a valuable part of the varied repertory of energy workers, healers, yoga teachers, and all beings who work for planetary consciousness and personal growth. Some people are especially sensitive to the movement of energy in their hands, and they will love mudras. Everyone can benefit from their calming and healing effects.
Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands . Hirschi, Gertrud. Weiser Books. Boston, MA:2000.
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