Mudras or yogic hand gestures have more than curative or therapeutic value. They are largely used as a mind-control tool which aids, supports and promotes meditation.
While there are several of these, here we have selected a few primarily for their calming effect so that meditation is less of a struggle. Mudras, as discussed in earlier columns, work by tweaking the neurological map in our brain which is called homunculus map. It is the representation of the human body in the brain. Yoga exploits the fact that the hand, particularly the thumb, has one of the largest representation in the brain.
In eastern sciences, it depends on the principle of the five elements, also represented in our fingers. Mudras exploit this also to suppress or enhance a particular element, with the controlling thumb (fire element) playing a major role in it.
There are also several mudras not covered here which enhance one's state of mental stillness, calm and harmony. These mudras include the Kamal mudra (lotus), Varada mudra (Merciful), Dharmachakra mudra (the wheel of dharma) and Bhumisparsha mudra (Earth-touching hand gesture). The last one was regarded a favourite of Lord Buddha who is also depicted often with that gesture.
When choosing a mudra for a sense of harmony and mental balance, choose one carefully. Instead of experimenting wildly stick to one, following your instinct on whether it is working for you.
Shameem Akthar shows you four mudras that can help with your meditative practices.
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.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: Lift your mood with yoga