The word mudra in Sanskrit means a seal. In Yoga teacher training India, mudras are more aptly described as gestures or attitudes – be it emotional, devotional or psychic. Mudras facilitate a guided flow of prana (energy or the life force) in our body. By performing a specific mudra, one can induce certain states of mind.
Traditionally, mudras are passed on from masters to disciples and are generally performed after a certain level of proficiency has been attained in practicing asanas (postures), regulated pranayama (rhythmic breath) and bandha (neuro-muscular locks). A practitioner of yoga needs awareness and sensitivity to gain the full benefit of mudras. It also needs a certain amount of awareness and feeling to be effective. They are not easily attainable or are a quick fix for problems. Mudras are generally performed either along with or after asanas and pranayama.
According to the yoga philosophy, the human system is made up of five constituents: the physical body (annamaya kosha), the mental body (manomaya kosha), the pranic or energy body (pranamaya kosha), the subtle body (vijnanamaya kosha), and the bliss body (anandamaya kosha). Working on any one or more of these layers of the system affects the rest of the layers as well. The performance of mudras helps establish a bond between the physical, mental and energy bodies. Their usage can result in the betterment of the physical and mental well-being.
Mudras can be used to prepare the mind for meditation. They help maintain our stream of thoughts and increase the overall receptivity of the mind in order to imbibe subtle levels of perception. At this stage, the mind assumes the state of Sakshi bhav, turning a silent witness to the mental activity. Each mudra sets up a unique bond that has a corresponding beneficial effect on the body, mind, and prana. These help the practitioner grow their inner self out of instinctive habitual patterns and develop a refined state of consciousness.
Characters of mudras
There are over a hundred different forms of mudras. Going by their physical aspects, they can be categorized into different categories such as mana or head, hasta or hand, bandha or lock, kaya or postural, and the adhara or perineal.
Hasta mudras let the dissipated prana through one’s palms and fingertips back into the body.
Mana mudras utilize the nose, eyes, ears, tongue, and lips and are often used as meditation techniques.
Kaya mudras combine breathing and concentration with physical postures.
Bandha mudras that combine mudra and bandha recharge the system with prana and prepare the body for more profound meditation.
Adhara mudras help in redirecting prana from the lower chakras or energy centers to the brain.
Anjali in Sanskrit means an offering, and the mudra named after it induces a sense of calm and tranquillity while preparing the mind for meditation. IT needs to be practiced on a daily basis and can also be used in several postures.
In the Anjali mudra, you need to bring your palms together, pressing them firmly yet gently. Hold the palms in the middle of your chest with the thumbs resting gently against the body.