Any yogi can express the anecdotal power of embodying various positions or asana. But far fewer may be familiar with the practice and theory of mudras. Hasta mudras are hand gestures which in Sanskrit translate to seals or stamps. These seals are used to embody and call on various energies to bring balance and healing to body, mind, and spirit.
Mudras help to direct prana, or life nervy throughout the body. Each mudra has a specific purpose and cycles prana in a specific way throughout the body to create subtle energetic, physical, mental, and emotional shifts.
Yoga and Buddhist traditions hold that the manifest world is made up of five elements collectively known as tattvas (earth, air, fire, water, and space). The relationship within and among these elements affects how life unfolds. Excess in various elements lead to imbalances in the body, mind, and spirit which lead to disease. Hand mudras are practice for restoring balance among the tattvas within a living system and play a powerful role in controlling these elements.
Ayurveda, the medical counterpart of yoga holds that each finger on either hand stimulates and directs a different tattva. When one assumes a mudra, the fingertips create an energetic circuit which simultaneously connects and balances the elements associated with those tattvas involved in the gesture. The elemental associations of the hand are as follows:
- Thumb: Fire
- Index: Air
- Middle: Space
- Ring: Water
- Little: Earth
Yogic practitioners hold that there are microscopic holes on the fingertip of the hands, from which energy is released from the body. Various energy is thus emitted from the fingers of our hands in the form of electromagnetic energy. When one practices a hasta mudra, this electromagnetic energy is contained and rerouted to various areas of the body where it stimulates shifts in disease and healing.
Mudras are an incredible and ancient energetic practice which has been used to invite healing for centuries. While more research needs to be conducted on their therapeutic efficacy, anecdotal and spiritual evidence shows this lasting tradition is one of deep connection to energetic wellbeing. The hands are powerful tools for enacting change both in the outer world, and within our inner world.
Sparrowe, L., Teixeira, N. (2020). Mudras 101: Sacred Hand Gestures. Yoga Journal. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/mudras-101-yoga-hand-gestures
Shekhar. (2020). 11 Yoga Hand Mudras (Hasta Mudras) – Finger Yoga Health Benefits. https://yogachapter.com/yoga-mudra-and-their-meaning-steps-and-benefits/