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Posted by on Sep 7, 2010

Mudras are dynamic positions made with the hands often seen in Indian dance.  These mudras are part of Tatva Yoga and have a very specific purpose.  The words translates from Sanskrit to mean “gesture.” More importantly, the mudra is a signifier of attitude.  Yogis who practice Tatva Yoga with mudras are aiming to experience a link to the pranic force of the body.  By assuming a mudra, the energy flow is short-circuited or by-passed much like a circuit breaker is used in electricity.  The energy flow is used to alter mood, perception and to remove subtle energy blocks in the body.

According to Swami Satyananda Saraswati, in Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha, “mudras manipulate pran in much the same way  that energy in the form of light or sound waves is diverted by a mirror or cliff face.  The nadis and chakras constantly radiate prana which normally escapes from the body and dissipates into the external world.  By creating barriers within the body and through the practice of mudra, the energy is redirected within.”  Literature from the Tantric traditions tells us that once this energy is redirected back into the body, the mind becomes focused, and states of pratyahara, or sense withdrawal are achieved.  It is from here that we can access the beginning stages of Samadhi.
If we look at the use of mudras through a scientific lens, we can see that each Mudra has a corresponding link to the mind and body.  Most disease can be controlled through the use of Mudra.  A distinctive thought pattern in the mind, which usually causes disease it the body can be redirected through the use of Mudra.  Just in the fingers alone, there are very subtle energies which emanate throughout the body.  The thumb is associated with Agni or fire, the forefinger is associated with vayu or the element of air, the middle finger is associated with akash or the ether, the ring finger is associated with the earth element or prithyi and the little finger is associated with the water element or jal.  By exploiting repetitive mudras with different finger positions we are able to jolt the mind out of instinctive thought patterns and establish a more highly developed consciousness.
The Archaya Keshav Dev says that, “Often you might have been rebuked by your mother for twiddling your fingers or dangling your legs. This is considered inauspicious because it involves a waste of prana or the vital energy within us,” he explains. “. . . an excess of wastage can even lead to brain damage; Mudra vigyan taps this energy to heal the individual. The science of mudras is one of the finest gifts of yoga to the cause of human welfare.”
There is a mantra from this same yogic tradition which lists twenty four different mudras, but we will start to explore just a few here.  Mudras are divided into five groups.  They are as follows:
Hasta, or Hand Mudras – these mudras are all meditative in nature and redirect prana which escapes through the fingers back into the body.
These mudras include:
Jnana or Gyan Mudra – the psychic gesture of knowledge is the most commonly seen Mudra.  It cures depression, insomnia and mental disorders, as well as dissipates tension, and drowsiness. It is also said to instill clairvoyance in its practitioners.
Chin Mudra – psychic gesture of consciousness
Yoni Mudra – attitude of the womb of source
Bhairava Mudra – fierce or terrifying attitude
Hridaya Mudra – heart gesture
Mana, or Head Mudras – these mudras are practiced in kundalini yoga and utilize several parts of the body.  The eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and lips are all engaged in these mudras.
These mudras include:
Shambhavi Mudra – eyebrow gazing
Nasikagra Mudra – nose tip gazing
Khechari Mudra – tongue lock
Kaki Mudra – the crow’s beak
Bhujangini Mudra – cobra respiration
Bhoochari Mudra – gazing into nothingness
Akashi Mudra – awarenss of inner space
Shanmukhi Mudra – closing the seven gates
Unmani Mudra – the attitude of mindlessness
Kaya or Postural Mudras – these mudras utilize a straight spine in most cases, with breathing and concentration techniques.
These mudras include:
Prana Mudra – invocation of energy
Vipareeta Karani Mudra – inverted psychic attitude
Yoga Mudra – attitude of psychic union
Pashineee Mudra – folded psychic attitude
Manduki Mudra – gesture of the frog
Tadagi Mudra – barreled abdomen technique
Bandha or Lock Mudras – these mudras involve utiltizing a lock within the body to keep prana within.
These mudras include:
Maha Mudra – great psychic attitude
Maha Bheda Mudra – the great separating atitude
Maha Vedha Mudra – the great piercing attitude
The last group of Mudras is called Adhara or perineal mudras.  These mudras redirect prana fro the lower chakras to the brain.  These mudras are often used to sublimate sexual energy.
                        These mudras include:
                        Ashwini Mudra – horse gesture
                        Vajroli/sahajoli Mudra – thunderbolt/spontaneous psychic attitude
There are other mudras which involve different hand positions or asana like poses with the body.  Mudras can also be used to balance the energies after yoga practice or mantra repetition. All of these mudras affect the functioning of the brain within the cerebral cortex.  It is important to learn these mudras from an experienced practitioner when you are first beginning. For more information, the Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandhabook written by Swami Satyananda Saraswati is very helpful.(c) 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Christina

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