Mudras are yogic hand gestures. They comprise a special, separate branch of yoga involving in-depth study. For long-term therapeutic use mudras need to be used with expert guidance since their effects are very powerful.
In an earlier yoga special for this section, titled 'Mudra Magic: You have healing powers in your hands', we had explained how mudras work: by exploiting the nerve representation for different organs in the brain. They work by tweaking the biological map in the brain called the homunculus man.
Another explanation that is accepted by alternative therapists is related to how our body is actually composed of five elements. In yogic science, each of the fingers also represent each of these elements: the little finger represents the water element, the ring finger the earth, the middle represents ether, the index represents the air and the thumb represents the fire element.
Pressing down a particular finger helps control, suppress or depress that particular element represented by that finger.
Similarly, touching the finger tip lightly enhances or increases that particular element. This is used to balance the elements in our body: when one element gets out of kilter is when there is disharmony which translates into dis-ease in our body. This is the ancient logic behind the magic of mudras.
In a way this also links mudra to the ayurvedic science of dosha or particular body type, again based on the idea of these basic elements. This also shows why blindly using the mudras without understanding which of the elements is out of balance may be counter-productive.
Here we present four mudras which can help tackle the excessive heat of summer by improving the water element in your body. They aid with rehydration, removing inner inflammation, and associated nervous disorders.
given below are the basic do's and don't's for using mudra therapy:
Mudras are ideally held in a meditative fashion. Sit in any comfortable meditative pose, with eyes shut. You may also use them while doing your pranayama practice. Follow the same instructions for both hands, unless otherwise instructed. Each mudra must be held for a minimum of five minutes and maximum of 15 minutes. Only a mudra expert, after detailed analysis of individual ailment and constitution, may advise longer duration for any mudra. All mudras need to be held only as long as an existing condition needs relief and may be discontinued once desired results are achieved. All the following mudras need to avoided by those with excess mucous condition or kapha/earth element.
Shameem Akthar, yoga acharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, Kerala, leads you through four mudras that'll help keep you cool this summer.
Text: Shameem Akthar
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com
Harmony Foundation recently published Shameem Akthar's book, Yoga for Silvers. To place an order, please write to: email@example.com
(This article only attempts to enthuse readers towards yoga practice and complement your existing practice. Yoga is best learnt under the personal guidance of a teacher.)
Also read: Yogic therapy for diabetes