By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 250
The term “mudra” is a Sanskrit word meaning “gesture.” Yoga mudras are used to aide in healing by focusing energy to different parts of the body. Generally, they are practiced during meditation and incorporated with deep breathing, or pranayama. There are many different types of mudras, each aimed at channeling energy to a specific area of the body. Therefore, Yoga mudras alone can adjust the flow of prana throughout one’s body. Combining mudra, meditation, and pranayama is a powerful method, which yields maximum results.
The history of yoga mudras dates back to pre-historic times before ancient Egyptian and Eastern civilizations were established. When the early civilizations grew, images of various gods and goddesses commonly show them sitting or standing with their hands in one of many mudras. In India, mudras were used in ritual dances to regulate stress and intonation. As religion developed worldwide and branched out into different forms, many of the new ideologies still incorporated mudras into rituals and meditative practices. Although many mudras are performed with hands, Kechari Mudra is actually done with the tongue.
Traditionally, mudras have been used in more than just yoga or meditation practices. They are also used in classical Indian dances, religious icons, Tantric practices, devotional rituals, and visualization or meditation practices. Bharatnatyam is a form of classical Indian dance using mudras, where they are used to tell religious tales through the dancers’ body movements and hand placements.
One of the most well known mudras is the Abhaya, which is a palm facing out, fingers pointed up. It is often associated with images of the Buddha. Abhaya represents protection, peace, and benevolence. Bumisparsha Mudra is an important part of Buddhist history. Depicted by the left hand facing palm up, resting in the lap and the right hand touching the ground with the fingertips near the right knee. Bumisparsha symbolizes Buddha taking the earth as witness after the cessation of suffering.
Dharmachakra Mudra also represents an important point in Buddha’s life, marking his first sermon after achieving enlightenment. Joining the thumbs and index fingers together and allowing the other fingers to relax, with the left palm facing the body and the right palm facing away perform Dharmachakra. Dharmachakra also represents the turning wheel of the Dharma. Another historical mudra, the Karana rids the mind negative thoughts, expels demons, and removes sickness. Lifting the index finger and the pinky finger while leaving the other fingers and the thumb curled performs it.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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