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Mudras and their Benefits during Meditation Practice

Tend to your inner calm and find balance by using crystals with mudras

We take our hands for granted, but aside from the countless activities and tasks they let us perform did you know that they hold the power to bring healing to your whole body?

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class and been asked to place your hands in prayer position, then what you were doing was called the Anjali mudra.

You’ll have seen the popular image of someone meditating with the index and thumb touching while the pinky, ring, and middle fingers are outstretched. This is the Gyan mudra.

You may be wondering what’s the significance of these hand gestures. Is it just for show?

Maybe you’re already familiar with mudras and you would like to learn more. Read on to find out the benefits of mudras and how they can be used with crystals to promote healing, instil calm, and find balance in your life.

What is a mudra?

A mudra is a sacred and symbolic gesture. Mudra is a Sanskrit word meaning seal, mark, or gesture. The most common ones used in yoga are made with the hands (hasta), on which this article will focus. Mudras were historically used in Hindu and Buddhist rituals and dances. They have also been depicted in art since ancient times.

Symbolically the hands are linked to our Karma through our actions, but mudras serve a practical purpose too. Mudras are used as a way of channelling the flow of prana or life force energy through the body. The position of our hands and fingers may influence the flow of energy in our physical and emotional bodies and they can be used to direct energy where you want it to go.

Jolanda at Jolanda Davies Yoga & Ayurveda says: “There’s something quite peaceful about mudras. The very sight of a Yogi sitting in stillness with the hands forming a gesture brings a feeling of tranquillity, somehow that same yogi with loose or folded arms does not emanate the same sensation. This is entirely, in my opinion, the purpose of the mudra. It maintains the desired attitude, mood and perception.”

“These beautiful mudras, whether formed with the hands, eyes, tongue, or body, manipulate the flow of energy to a desired area or effect and develop the link between the physical body, mental body and pranic body. They prevent the pranic energy from dissipating and contain it with focused awareness, making the mind more introverted. This is why practising a mudra…normally a hand mudra, during meditation practice is beneficial.”

Each mudra is associated with one of the five traditional Hindu and Buddhist elements and is said to help balance these within the body. The thumb, index, middle, ring and little finger represent fire, air, sky, earth and water respectively. When these elements in our body get out of alignment, mudras help to rebalance the system to help it work more effectively.

For example, the Gyan mudra - one of the most common - is a gesture of knowledge and wisdom. It mainly works on increasing the air element in the body to help the brain function more efficiently and improve concentration.

There are hundreds of mudras to choose from depending on your intention. Regular practice of Mudras may contribute to overall good health.

When are mudras used?

Mudras can be used during meditation or yoga and are performed during or after asana or pranayama. It’s best to choose a time when you won’t be disturbed to get the full benefit of the mudra and to take time to focus on your breath. You can close your eyes, whisper an affirmation, or chant a mantra. You can even combine your mudra practice with using crystals.

Crystal Healing with Mudras

If you’re looking for something to relieve the stresses of everyday life one powerful practice is to meditate with crystals while taking a mudra. Mudras can be used in conjunction with crystals to enhance the experience by creating more healing energy to minimise stress, provide balance, and foster harmony between the mind, body and spirit. Even after you have done your meditation with your Mudras, you can wear or carry the crystal throughout your day.

Here are some suggested mudras to use in your practice and the best crystals to help open up the different chakras.

Root Chakra - Muladhara Mudra

Mantra: Lam

How to do it: Start with the hands in prayer position. Interlace the pinky and ring fingers so that they’re tucked into the palms. Interlink the index fingers and thumbs to form two rings inside each other. You can turn this mudra upside down and lower your hands so that your middle fingers are pointing at your pelvic region.

Benefits: Muladhara means ‘foundation’ and the root chakra is responsible for stability. This mudra supports grounding in the physical body. Just as a tree needs strong roots to grow healthy, you need a secure base from which to rise. Spend 5-mins a day on this practice and feel more connected to the earth’s energy.

Sacral Chakra - Shakti Mudra

Mantra: Vam

How to do it: Start with hands in prayer position. Fold your thumbs into your palms and curl the middle and index fingers over them. Press knuckles together or keep them separate. Yogis’s choice. Hold the mudra just above the navel.

Benefits: Shakti is the goddess of life energy. This mudra helps increase your vital life force to give you more energy, strength and inner power.

Solar Plexus Chakra - Rudra Mudra

Mantra: Ram

How to do it: With palms facing upwards on your thighs bring the tips of your thumb, index finger and ring finger to touch. Straighten through the little and middle fingers.

Benefits: The solar plexus is your central powerhouse. Rudra means Lord and is another name for Shiva representing masculine energy, which has a more dynamic quality. Taking this mudra will help to develop your willpower and self-worth, clear obstacles in your path, stimulate creativity and gain more self-control.

Heart Chakra - Padma Mudra symbolizes a blossoming lotus flower

Mantra: Yam

How to do it: Bring your palms to your heart. Keep the heels of your hand together and the outer edges touching. As you open up your hands and extend through all ten fingers.

Benefits: Padma Mudra is known as the Lotus Mudra. It is a beautiful reminder of the divine within. Practise this mudra to honour your own beauty and light.

Throat Chakra - Granthita Mudra (Knot Mudra)

Mantra: Ham

How to do it: Interlace your middle, ring, and pinky inside your hands. Form two rings with the index fingertips and thumbs and hold this mudra in front of the base of your throat.

Benefits: Also known as the knot mudra. Use this to clear the way for the expression of your authentic self. The mudra opens the knot in the throat centre so that you can speak your truth freely with your sweet voice.

3rd Eye - Mahasirs Mudra, the great head

Mantra: Aum

How to do it: Take your right hand. Keep the pinky finger extended and curl the ring finger into your palm. Bring the tips of the thumb, middle and index finger to touch. Bring these fingers to your third eye. The left hand can be placed comfortably on the left thigh or in Gyan mudra.

Benefits: Tap into the power of your wisdom and intuition.

Crown Chakra - The Mudra of a thousand petals

How to do it: Make a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers touching and the other fingers splayed out. Raise your mudra 6 inches above your head.

Benefits: The Crown Chakra gives us access to higher states of consciousness. Taking this mudra can open the gateway to the crown chakra’s domain of the universal consciousness, divinity, and transcendence.

There are hundreds more mudras, but start off with just one that appeals to you and soon you will be adding them into your daily practice to find calm, balance and well being.

Jolanda tells us her personal experience of using mudras: “ I naturally, without thinking relax into jnana mudra, it feels comfortable and right for my own meditation practice.

With regards to mudras used in the yoga class all depends on what the focus is for that class. For example, sometimes we practice prana mudra with full yogic breathing to really refine the awareness of the energy within this 3 part breath, we also regularly use Brahma mudra, maybe for example when opening the heart centre. Without the use of these simple gestures, the practice of yoga would be incomplete.

Why not try 'Brahma Mudra' and see for yourself the power of mudras. Fold the fingers over the thumbs and bring the knuckles to touch. Gently press the pinky sides of the fisted hands into the abdomen at the navel and practice deep abdominal breathing; close the eyes, observe, relax and enjoy.”

Tips for using mudras

  1. Set enough time aside so that you won’t be disturbed.

  2. Find a comfortable seat of your choice.

  3. Rub hands together for a few seconds to generate energy.

  4. Apply enough pressure to energise, but remain soft and relaxed while taking the mudra.

  5. Focus on the mudra for 10-15 minutes to give it time to work most effectively.

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