Several months ago, I attended a yoga mudra class. Previously, I viewed yoga as the stretchy, bendy, whole-body practice I’d done since my early 20s up until my back injury. I’ve tried yoga several times since the injury, but I could never make it work. Even gentle styles seemed to irritate the injury. So I was quite intrigued to learn about a form of yoga that only used your hands.
I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical that using different hand position could actually do anything, despite the fact that I meditate with hand positions sometimes. Turns out all these are all mudras, and for meditation, they are pretty much all designed to help your mind relax. But there are hundreds of other mudras to help with all kinds of body ailments. Google mudras and you’ll find plenty of results on the most commonly used mudras. If you add in an ailment like headache, GI upset, etc. you’ll get more tailored results. This is my favorite for back pain, although it can be hard to hold for a long time. I often turn my hands over, which my teacher said just lowers the intensity.
The basic idea behind mudras is that you have a lot of nerve endings in your hands, particularly your finger tips. By touching different nerve endings together, you stimulate different parts of your nervous system at large. I assume this is somehow related to the ideas of reflexology, but I have not investigated that link personally.
When trying mudrs, you may find that one won’t work for you or will even feel wrong or uncomfortable. My teacher recommended holding a mudra for four slow breaths to really feel how it is affecting your body. Does it change where your energy goes in your body? Does it give you a sense of calm or relief? If not, try a different mudra and see how it feels. I’ve had some where I almost immediately feel anxious or get a stab of pain. Others bring a lovely relaxation. Some don’t seem to do much of anything. Experimenting in a class is fun because different people respond to each mudra in their own way. When one really works, you can see it on your classmate’s faces.
For best results, it is recommended to do mudras daily, up to 45 minutes per day. I have yet to get that far. I usually end up with five minutes here or there.
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