By Amruta Kulkarni CYT 500
Yoga mudras, or hand gestures, are specific postures for the hands performed during yoga or meditation. Mudras can aide the body in healing by channeling energy to specific areas or parts of the body, and energizing the mind/body connection. The benefits of yoga mudras can be seen when used on a regular basis. It is often helpful to perform mudras during pranayama. Pranayama, meaning “expansion of life force,” refers to yogic breathing. Pranayama might be described as deliberate and deep breathing with the goal of using the breath to bring new energy into the body to stimulate physical and mental well-being. When used in conjunction, pranayama and mudra can have powerful effects on the body and mind.
Sit or lie in a comfortable position when practicing pranayama. Mudras should be held in relaxed positions, without strain or discomfort. The Vishnu Mudra can be used to alternate breaths through each nostril. Use the right hand o perform Vishnu. Place the tips of the forefinger and middle finger at the base of the thumb while leaving the last two fingers upright. Use the thumb to close one nostril, breath deeply filling up the belly and chest, then release the breath and use the ring finger to close the opposite nostril. Continue alternating breaths.
Practice Chin Mudra to ground the mind. Place hands on the knees or thighs, palms down. Place the tip of the forefinger and the tip of the thumb together, letting the other three fingers relax. The Jnana Mudra is very similar to Chin. The fingers are placed in the same position, but the hands should rest facing up, as opposed to down. Jnana can uplift the mind, giving a sense of spaciousness.
To influence the thoracic area of the body, Chinmaya Mudra is performed by curling the fingers down into the palm, forming a fist, then pressing the tip of the forefinger to the tip of the thumb, palms facing down.
Aadi Mudra can be used at the end of pranayama to quiet the nervous system, lighten the mind, and influence breathing in a positive manner. Make a light fist with the hands by gently curling the fingers around the thumb.
To stimulate a full, deep breath in pranayama, practice Brahma Mudra. Place the hands in light fists as in Aadi Mudra, then press both hands together at the knuckles, palms up. Then gently press both hands against the pubic bone.
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