How does a mudra fit into your health and fitness routine, and for that matter, just what is a mudra anyway? Mudra is a Sanskrit (ancient Indian text) word that means mud ("joy") and ra ("to give"). It is a hand gesture that seals the energy of the universe into the body, leading to a higher state of consciousness.
We are all familiar with hand gestures. Some, like a wave or outstretched hand, signify welcoming and warmth, while a raised fist may signify anger or defiance. Gestures are considered a form of non-verbal communication. Most often the communication we participate in is non-verbal. It ranges from facial expressions, body movements and appearances, to touching, voice intonation, environment and gestures.
Although we are all familiar with gestures, it is important to remember that not all human gestures have universal understanding. Depending upon the culture, different meanings are attached to different gestures. For example, offering food with the left hand is considered a grievous insult in some cultures. In India the left hand is reserved for cleansing the body and not to be used as an offering. The A-OK gesture is another gesture that is considered poor taste and insulting in some countries such as Brazil.
The mudras are mystical hand gestures or a symbolic language whereby the four fingers and the thumb represent the 10 life currents that ascend and descend up and down the spinal column bringing energy to your body-mind. When we take the fingers and bring them into a mudra, we are creating a closed circuit, bringing the life current back into the spine and into the chakras or energy centers. This is called a regenerative system, as in electronics, where we take a small amount of energy and regenerate it back into the system.
The meaning behind the mudras is the symbolic energy we regenerate back into our body-mind. It is a non-verbal communication between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. They are like powerful affirmations, but so much more.
In yoga, when the conscious and the subconscious minds are in harmony, we create peace, and this peaceful state creates perfect balance within the body, mind and spirit. When the energy of the body-mind is in perfect balance, we create perfect health. Think about it for a moment. Perfect balanced energy creates a state of homeostasis and homeostasis creates perfect health.
A mudra and the manner in which it is formed communicates a specific message. When we hold a specific mudra, we are communicating to the subconscious mind a message which, if repeated, will embed deep within the subconscious and thus manifest into our being.
My favorite mudra is the lotus flower. In Buddhism, the lotus flower represents the heart opening and awakening. It sits on the surface of the pond, opening to the sun as its roots remain deeply embedded into the muddy bottom, holding it firm and strong. It is the symbol of light and beauty emerging from the darkness. It reminds us that we all need strong roots to keep us grounded so that we can be free to open and emerge into the light. The message of the lotus mudra is to stay connected to your roots, open yourself to the light and realize that the greatest sense of steadiness in life is an open heart.
Sit cross-legged or in a full lotus pose. Fold the hands into the lotus mudra. Heels of the hands together, thumbs and small fingers touching, spread the fingers out like the lotus flower opening toward the sunlight. Place your hands near your heart and close your eyes. To yourself say, "My heart is open and my roots are strong." Take several deep, long breaths.
Open your eyes, and like the lotus flower, you will be grounded and strong while opening your heart to the joys of life. This is how a mudra brings health to the body, mind and spirit.
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