What are Hasta Mudras and what are they used for?
The Sanskrit word ‘Mudra’ means ‘gesture’, ‘to seal’. A symbolic or ritual gesture. Most Mudras involve the hands and fingers – ‘Hasta Mudras’. Mudras enhance energy flow and are used to strengthen, calm, purify, and concentrate. Their ultimate aim is to help the practitioner realise his or her full potential.
Sometimes known as ‘finger power points’, Hasta Mudras can be practised sitting, standing, lying down or even while walking. However, Hasta Mudras are most often used during meditation and pranayama to help ‘control’ and ‘concentrate’ the mind.
To help demonstrate the effects of Hasta Mudra on a purely physical level try the following experiment. Gently stretching the fingers of the right hand away, pinch the web-like structure between the thumb and forefinger using the left thumb and index finger. Hold and squeeze for about 30 seconds. The area under and around the thumb will begin to become pale in colour as it experiences restricted blood flow. On releasing the area the paleness soon disappears; the dead blood cells are cleard away and replaced by fresh blood cells.
Some common examples:-
The gesture of salutation. Hands are held palm to palm in front of the centre of the chest.
In Chin Mudra the tip of the index finger and thumb touch to form a circle. This has several meanings including infinity, or the individual spirit bowing down to the Universal spirit). The middle, ring and little fingers stay gently stretching away from the palm. Hands are placed palm down fingers slightly inwards on thighs below the groin area, elbos turned slightly out, shoulders relaxed. Sometimes used to enhance ‘Diaphragmatic’ or ‘Belly’ Breathing.
During meditation Chin Mudra can be used palm up or palm down according to preference. The three extended fingers represent the three Gunas – qualities of energies that have a direct influence on our bodies and minds.
The little finger represents the Guna Tama and the quality of inertia. The energy is heavy or still.
The ring finger represents Rajas and the quality of stimulation and ‘self absorption’. The energy is active and fiery.
The middle finger represents Sattva and the quality of balance and peace. The energy is light and pure.
Chin Maya Mudra
Same as for Chin Mudra, except the three fingers are folded into the palm. Used to enhance ‘Intercosta’ or ‘Rib’ Breathing
Thumb folded in palm and four fingers closed over thumb. Hands are placed palm down, on the thighs just below the groin area, and turned slightly inwards as for Chin Mudra. Used to enhance ‘Clavicular’ or ‘top chest’ breathing.
The fingers are curled around the thumb as for Adhi Mudra; the knuckles come together palms upwards and placed just under the ‘v’ shape of the ribcage on the upper diaphragm area. Used to enhance ‘Maya’ breath or the ‘full length’ breath.
Hasta Mudras should be used with care and preferably under the guidance of an experienced teacher. When used either for meditation or pranayama, not strain of discomfort should be experienced.
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