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What are Mudras?

Mudras, translated as "seal," are often associated in the West with hand positions such as Gyan Mudra. Mudras have been used in yoga and seen in Indian iconography, classical dance, rituals, Sanātana Dharma (Hindu) and Buddhist art for thousands of years. Mudras even made their way into Christian art in Europe and can be seen in Shamanic practices of First Nations and other indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Mudras are often misunderstood, and more so, in their connection with yoga. Mudras are a subtle energetic yoga practice. They work through the various koshas (energetic layers). Many tantric yoga practices use mudras due to their connection with the elements (along with mantras, yantras, and tapas practices). They can increase and/or decrease the elements that draw us in different directions.

There are different groups of mudras: Hasta (hand), Mana (head), Kaya (postures), Bandha (locks), and Adhara (perineal). You will often see mudras used by deities in India. Anandamayi Ma said you become one with the deity whose mudra you use.

The mudra seen above, Dhyana Mudra, is often used in meditation practices. This auspicious gesture is often seen used by Lord Buddha. It can be used during, and to promote, profound concentration. This mudra increases the fire element and affects the Vayus (energies that moves in certain directions of the body). Dhyana mudra may open the nasal passageways and create space for fuller breathing.

To create this mudra, place the right hand over the left with the palms turned up. connect the tips of the thumbs.

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