The Sanskrit word mudra translates to a seal or gesture typically with the hands though some mudras incorporate the entire body. Looking upon a statue of Buddha or Hindu deity, notice how most of their hand placements are in some type of mudra, each with its own meaning. But it is one thing to know, for instance, that Abhaya mudra dispels fear and another thing to physically feel the effects of a mudra.
The tips of the fingers have nerve endings and when your fingers are placed against the thumb or palm or other fingers, these nerve endings signal the brain that there is work to be done. The four mudras we have been working with in class lately connect with the breath. Each of the four following mudras works with the breath in a different part of the body. But first, take a moment to close your eyes and feel where your breath is right now so you have a basis of comparison. Is the breath low in the abdomen, high in the chest or head, or somewhere in between?
Because Chin mudra activates the abdominal area, when your hands are placed in Chin Mudra, you will notice the breath move towards your sacral chakra, the space beneath your naval. To create Chin Mudra, the thumbs and index fingers touch to make a circle and the other fingers are extended straight. Then rest the backs of your hands on your lap or knees. Stay here and notice the abdominal breath for about 10 inhales and exhales.
When you are ready, take the fingertips of the three extended fingers and bring them down to touch the palms in Chinmaya Mudra. The breath will automatically move to the ribs because this is the area affected by this hand gesture. Stay for 10 breaths.
The third mudra, as you may have now guessed, will take the breath higher into the chest. You might actually feel the breath open up into the head as well. Opening your hands, the thumbs reach across the palm and the four fingers gently fold over the thumb in a loose fist; this is known as Adi Mudra. Close your eyes for ten breaths.
Brahma Mudra is our final hand gesture, which will allow you to feel the breath in the abdomen, ribs and chest all at the same time. Keep your hands in their loose fists, bring the knuckles to touch in front of your naval, fingernails facing up.
You can play around with these mudras by switching back and forth, noticing how the breath changes along with the placement of your fingers