Mudras for Breathing

3 June 2024 0 Comment(s)

Hand gestures can affect our breath! Hand gestures can have an immediate affect on our mind and emotions, bringing balance and stillness to both.

Why didn't they teach us that at school?

For years, I read how wonderful practicing mudras (specific hand gestures) were but even though I practiced them every now and again, they weren't an integral part of my practice. Today, I find their impact so mind-blowing that I can't imagine not using them to help me find ease in my daily life. The beauty is, many of them can be used anytime, anywhere without drawing much attention.

The power that the hands possess in bringing us to balance in a few minutes could be partly explained by Homunculus (the little man). He represents the body based on a neurological "map" of the areas and proportions of the brain that are dedicated to processing motor and/or sensory functions in different parts of the body. Clearly, compared to other body parts, the hands take a larger proportion of the brain to be processed.

Another reason might be that we must cultivate a relative calm in order to feel the effect of each mudra. When the storyteller in our head which tends to constantly add a narrative to what is happening, takes a back seat and quietens down to listen, the whole body rests. I know that there is more to scientifically explain how each hand gesture specifically influences different moods, breathing patterns, brain functions etc but to me, mudras remains a delightful mystery.

There are hundreds of mudras to choose from but, in order to avoid the stress of 'too many choices',  it is best to learn a few, practice them regularly to deeply understand their impact, before moving on to the rest.

For the purpose of this blog, I suggest the practice of the first four mudras (9 breaths each) to feel the sensation of the opening and closing of each breathing chamber separately and then together.

Chin Mudra helps you sense the breath in the lower abdomen / pelvis region.

Chinmaya Mudra helps you sense the breath in the middle of the torso / upper abdomen / kidney region.

Adhi Mudra helps you sense the breath in the collar bones, neck / upper chest region.

Brahma Mudra helps you sense all of the above regions resulting in full yogic breath.

These are good mudras to play with too to find out how they influence your brain and nervous system.

Hakini Mudra - aids memory and is a great tool for when you have forgotten something. Excellent in bringing balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain ~ bring the tips of all fingers to touch each other.

Kalesvara Mudra where the nails of the little, ring and index fingers touch each other, the pad of the middle fingers touch forming a diamond (relative to the index fingers) and thumbs touch each other (forming a heart). It is great to quiet the mind and feelings. It is said that the buddha taught this to his disciples.

Matangi Mudra where all the fingers cross apart from the middle finger; this is great to help relax an excited heart.

I hope you'll have as much fun with these mudras as I've had and if you are interested to learn more I recommend 'Mudras, Yoga in your Hands' by Gestrud Hirschi and 'Mudras of India' by Cain Carroll and Revital Carrol.

Dorna Djenab

June 2025

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