In this article, we will look into hasta mudras – hand gestures that are said to affect your body and mind by working with the five key elements (fire, water, air, earth and ether) within yourself.
The teachings about mudras come from Ayurveda which sees disease and other issues of both body and mind as a result of imbalance among these elements. The five elements are represented by the five fingers, and by mindfully joining different fingers together or positioning them in different ways, we can achieve all kinds of results – like focusing the mind, sleeping better, or even help with more physical issues, such as symptoms of the common cold/alergies (Bhramara mudra) or menstrual pain (Shakti mudra).
The five elements
I first encountered mudras when I started with yoga, but I soon got curious about using them in different settings as well. I decided to share a couple of my favorite ones with you, accompanied by my personal tips for using them!
This is probably the most famous mudra of them all. It’s so deeply ingrained within our idea of meditation that it’s really hard not to imagine it as a part of that mental image. It helps to increase concentration, and is generally useful for enhancing mental capabilities and spiritual progress. It also helps to deal with stress, anger and depression.
To perform this mudra, join the tip of your thumb with the tip of your index finger while gently extending the other three fingers – the air and fire elements come together and bring the calming and focusing effects of this mudra. The mudra should be performed with both hands. If you are seated, place the backs of your hands onto the thighs with the palms facing upwards. You can also turn the hands palms down, increasing the grounding and introspective effect of the mudra – this version is sometimes called Chin mudra, although other sources use the terms interchangeably, no matter the hand placement. The palms-down placement is also much easier to sustain for longer periods of time.
For best effects, it’s recommended to hold this mudra for 45 minutas a day, or 3 times 15 minutes during the day. If yoga is part of your practice, you can hold this mudra during your pranayama time, if it’s not, you can hold it for example when commuting with public transport, or whenever you have some time off and you don’t need to use your hands for anything (finally, you can put that Netflix time into some good use!).
It helps with grounding and calming down, so if you suffer from anxiety/panic attacks, or just feel overwhelmed by your day, you can try to hold this mudra while doing whatever you normally do to get through it! This mudra is also great if you reeeally try to focus your mind – whether you want to meditate or study for your exams – but you are just way to scatterbrained – TRIED AND TESTED! Also, holding this mudra while lying in bed can help you fall asleep much easier.
The sūrya mudra (sun mudra) is most known in pop culture as the “weightloss mudra” – yes, it increases the fire element within the body, which, among other things, boosts the metabolism, helping the body burn through more body fat. However, it would be shame to just put the DIET label on this great mudra and leave it like that!
Sūrya mudra has much more to offer – if you find yourself lacking the will or energy to do anything, or if you’re maybe a bit lazy or lethargic (I know I can be), this is an excellent mudra for you – it fires you up, boosts your physical power, it’s basically the energy drink of mudras. It is also very beneficient for people who are notoriously cold – practicing this mudra on regular basis helps your body to be more efficient at generating warmth – it’s more of a process, though, so don’t expect immediate effect. For that you can explore Linga mudra or maybe one of our own warming tea recipes!
Sūrya mudra is to be used only in a seated position and on an empty stomach. 20 minutes a day are ideal for best results.
Do you use mudras in your life?
Which one is your favorite?
Let me know in the comments!
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