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Billed as a subtle body roadmap for physical, mental, and spiritual balance, the chakras are often presented in modern yoga individually or without context. But there is so much more to these powerful forces of energy beyond a backbend-themed class to open up Anahata (the heart chakra). Here, Alan Finger, co-founder of ISHTA Yoga and Tantra master teacher, shares a simple explanation of what, exactly, the chakras are, how they are integrated, and which of the 7 energy centers serves as command.
Want to explore the chakras like you never have before? Join Alan Finger and Sarah Platt-Finger, co-founders of ISHTA Yoga, for YJ’s new 4-week online course, Chakras 101: Unleash the Wisdom and Vitality Within. Through lessons, meditations, asana, mantras, and visualizations, you will learn how to balance these whirling forces of subtle energy, from root to crown. You’ll also fill in the blanks and discover what, exactly, chakras are, where they came from, and how they work. The results: The ability to alter your state of mind, carry yourself with more confidence and ease, and tap into your innate intelligence and power. Class starts January 29. Sign up today!
DR Satish K Kapoor
Hasta mudras or hand-gestures speak with eloquent silence, and are used in art, religion, culture, yoga, meditation and personal life, consciously or unconsciously. Each finger of hand represents an element of nature and has a subtle energy-field. The thumb is symbolic of fire, index finger of air, middle finger of space; ring finger, of the earth, and little finger, of water. In Tantric anatomy, the thumb is associated with the solar plexus-chakra, index finger with heart-chakra, middle finger with throat-chakra, ring finger with root-chakra, and little finger with sacral chakra. By bringing the thumb in touch with one or more fingers, one can deepen one’s connection with the elements represented by them, and invigorate prana.
Prana is the universal life-force that manifests as breath in the human body. It has five categories to it: prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana. According to the Gheranda Samhita (V. 61-62): ‘The prana always moves in the heart, the apana in the sphere of the anus; the samana in the region of the navel; the udana in the throat; and the vyana pervades the whole body.’ Each is associated with a hand gesture that can regulate and energize its specific functioning.
Prana mudra stands for vigour, self assertion and survival. It is performed by joining the tips of ring and little fingers with the tip of thumb while keeping the index and middle fingers straight. It impacts breathing, body temperature, heart-rate, sensory functions, thought, behavior and consciousness.
Apana mudra symbolises patience, movement and flow. It regulates the downward-moving energy and eliminates toxins and waste products from the body. It is performed by bringing index finger to the base of thumb, joining ring and middle fingers with the tip of thumb, and keeping little finger straight. Alternately, middle and ring fingers are made to touch the tip of thumb while index and little fingers are kept straight. Due to its therapeutic effect on the heart and the colon, it is called Mrita-sanjivani mudra, the hand-gesture that gives life to the dead.
Samana mudra is symbolic of balance, harmony, and understanding. It is performed by joining the tips of all fingers with the tip of thumb. As samana vayu pervades the alimentary tract, this mudra helps in the processes of ingestion, digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients by stoking jatharagni, gastric fire, and releasing natural acids and enzymes. It stabilizes tridosha, three fundamental body-substances —vata, pitta and kapha — in the body, and improves the functioning of liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and small intestine.
Udana mudra symbolises creativity, imagination and communication. It regulates energy that ascends from the navel to the heart, throat and the head. It is performed by joining the tip of index, middle and ring fingers with the tip of thumb while keeping little finger straight. It supports the central and the peripheral nervous systems. It improves metabolism, speech and concentration, and is useful in the awakening of kundalini, coiled-up energy.
Vyana mudra is symbolic of circulation, transmission, and activity. It is performed by joining index and middle fingers with the tip of thumb while ring and little fingers remain straight. It ensures the proper circulation of blood and tones up the heart, lungs, skin, bones, veins, muscles and nerves.
To bring the energy systems of the body into harmonious balance, Hasta-mudras should be practiced daily while sitting with closed eyes, using both hands, for at least 20-25 minutes. One can perform a single mudra at one time, or build one’s own sequence of mudras for practice, as per need.
( Dr Kapoor is a noted educationist, historian and spiritualist.)
7 Mudras for Chakra Balancing
Our bodies and everything in the universe are made of 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space.
Each finger is also associated with one of these elements.
- Fire - the thumb relates to the fire element, connected to the solar plexus chakra.
- Air - the index finger represents the air element, connected to the heart chakra.
- Space - the middle finger represents the space element, connected to the throat chakra.
- Earth - the ring finger represents the earth element, connected to the root chakra.
- Water - the pinky finger represents the water element, connected to the sacral chakra.
Yoga mudras are energetic closures or gestures made with our hands and fingers to help direct the flow of energy within the body, stimulating specific areas of the body and the brain. It’s helpful to use mudras along with meditation, pranayama and asana postures to promote healing and balance in the body, between the elements and the chakras.
Here are 7 mudras that can be used to activate each of the 7 chakras in the body, the energy centers that run up and down our Shushumna, the energetic spinal column. Learn more about the Chakras in this recommended book The Ultimate Guide to the Chakras.
Root Chakra, Earth Element
Prithvi Mudra (gesture of the earth)
Touch the tips of the thumb and ring fingers together, with the other fingers straight.
The Earth element is connected to our physical bones, cartilage, skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, and internal organs, stimulating and strengthening these tissues and bones. Prithvi Mudra promotes a feeling of stability, confidence and strength, and helps reduce stress and weakness. It also improves your digestive power, and enhances overall vitality in the body.
Sacral Chakra, Water Element
Varun Mudra (gesture for water)
Touch the tip of the thumb and pinky together, with the other fingers straight or relaxed.
Varun Mudra Helps to balance the water element, the largest element of the human body, preventing conditions caused by lack of water or any kind of dryness in the body, and helps to activate the circulation of fluid throughout the body.
Solar Plexus, Fire Element
Apana Mudra (gesture for digestion)
Touch the tip of the thumb, middle and ring fingers together, with the other fingers straight.
Apana Mudra helps to detox and cleanse the body by improving digestion and elimination. It is energetically connected to the pelvis and abdominal areas. The word Apana is the downward and outward flow of energy from the body, such as the outbreath, digestive elimination and menstruation. It is also connected with your inner strength and self-confidence.
Heart Chakra, Air Element
Anjali Mudra (heart offering)
Place the palms together at heart center, with a small space in between the palms.
Anjali Mudra symbolizes a connection with your heart, your inner divine self, and respect toward yourself, others and the wider universe. This mudra is an expression of love and gratitude and helps to connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain, uniting the body as a whole. Anjali means "offering" in Sanskrit and is associated with the greeting Namaste, showing respect, connection and compassion towards others, yourself and your spirituality.
Throat Chakra, Sound or Space Element
Granthita Mudra (throat chakra activation and self-healing)
Interlace your fingers then touch the thumb and index fingers together, creating 2 interlocked circles, and hold the hands in front of the base of your throat.
Granthita Mudra activates the throat chakra, opening the vocal cord passageways, and allowing your communication, voice and expression to be clearer and more authentic. It also balances the thyroid gland and stimulates self-healing and expression.
Third Eye Chakra
Gyan Mudra (knowledge, wisdom)
Touch the tips of the thumb and first fingers together, with the other 3 fingers straight.
Gyan Mudra connects the fire and air elements, stimulating the brain and is associated with knowledge and wisdom. It also symbolizes the unity of universal and individual consciousness, increasing focus and concentration, and cultivates a sense of calmness and openness during meditation. You can place your palms facing up if you wish to be more open to receive, or face your palms down if you wish to feel more grounded and internal reflective.
Prana Mudra (vital energy of prana)
Touch the thumb, ring and pinky fingers together, with the other fingers straight.
Prana Mudra stimulates prana, the life force energy, within the body, helping it to flow more freely. This is usually an energizing mudra. It also has healing power for the eyes and it helps us to see more clearly physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is a wonderful mudra to activate the crown chakra and allow us to surrender to a higher consciousness.
If you have any questions or feedback on this article, please leave a comment in the comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!
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Author: Sally Mitchell, founder of Body Flows Yoga Retreats and RYT 200 Yoga Teacher leads yoga retreats in the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica. Living in beautiful Sonoma, California, after 15 years in NYC and San Francisco, her approach as a leader and teacher is holistic, balanced and grounded. She enjoys practicing and studying yoga, hiking and trail running in nature, traveling, writing, blogging and inspiring others to live a more spiritual and meaningful life.
Read more about Sally here.
Tags:Chakras, Chakra Balancing, YogaSours: https://bodyflows.com/articles/7-mudras-for-chakra-balancing.php
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“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” —Oprah
Speaking up in any situation, whether you’re delivering a Ted Talk, standing up for yourself, or prepping for that long overdue discussion with your partner, can be a daunting task. Palms sweaty just thinking about it? Try this throat chakra-balancing practice from Alan Finger and Sarah Platt-Finger, co-founders of ISHTA Yoga. The fifth chakra, visuddha, is associated with the element ether (space) and flowing communication channels within, with others, and with the universe—qualities that will allow you to express yourself with ease. After all, anyone can talk, but the key to making your voice heard is speaking from the soul.
Want to explore the chakras like you never have before? Join Alan and Sarah for YJ’s new 4-week online course, Chakras 101: Unleash the Wisdom and Vitality Within. Through lessons, meditations, asana, mantras, and visualizations, you will learn how to balance these whirling forces of subtle energy, from root to crown. You’ll also fill in the blanks and discover what, exactly, chakras are, where they came from, and how they work. The results: The ability to alter your state of mind, carry yourself with more confidence and ease, and tap into your innate intelligence and power. Sign up today!
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I want you to finish without hands, will it work.