It is believed in yoga philosophy that we have 1,000s of subtle energy channels running through our bodies. Some of these channels end at our fingertips and when we hold our hands in different positions with awareness, we are able to tap into this energy.
The word mudra can be translated as "seal," we can think of mudra practice as a way of sealing the energy within our bodies. With regular practice, we can begin to encourage and redirect the flow of energy in our subtle system. This can have a positive effect on our physical and emotional wellbeing. We are able to develop a deeper awareness of ourselves and work with deep-rooted issues that can hold us back from living to our full potential.
Mudras can also help with physical ailments, the specific hand positions relate to different elements and organs within the body. They work by either stimulating the corresponding area or calming it. It is difficult to comprehend the power of this ancient practice and needs to be experienced to be understood. I love to think about the people who have dedicated their whole lives to exploring and experimenting with our energetic power. I feel so grateful to have access to such incredible wisdom.
When using hand mudras during meditation practice we can bring more focus to our intentions, whether that is to become a less jealous person or to work through a physical health problem. I have found that I experience a deeper sense of calm and am able to navigate my internal landscape with more concentration and direction.
This month I would like to introduce Varuna Mudra, this is a water balancing gesture. Varuna is the name given, in early Hinduism, to the guardian of the waters and the king of aquatic animals. To practice Varuna Mudra come into a comfortable seated position, either cross-legged on the floor or on a chair. Equally, you could practice this Mudra lying down. Simply join the tips of your little fingers and thumbs on each hand. Keep the other fingers extended but relaxed. Rest your hands on your thighs or by your sides. It is helpful to close the eyes to turn your attention inward. Hold for as long as feels comfortable.
The thumb relates to the fire element, when joined to a fingertip it stimulates the finger's corresponding element. Each of the fingers is connected to one of the five elements, in Varuna Mudra, we focus on the little finger which is associated with the water element. This element is linked to our emotional centre when we increase its power we are able to process uncomfortable and overbearing emotions. We can learn to take control of jealousy, excessive desire and guilt.
Water mudras enhance our ability to enjoy life without feeling guilty. It can be difficult to cultivate this skill in a world where there is so much suffering. I try to remind myself every day that my arms are only so long, I can only have so much influence over the world around me. We cannot help or cure the whole world and that suffering is a part of life. This is not to turn our back on suffering, and yes we can have an amazing influence on life! But it is important to learn that it is OK to be OK, others suffering should not prevent you from enjoying life. It is about finding a balance between these things.
Varuna Mudra, when practiced regularly, can encourage us to taste the sweetness of life. Feeling low or experiencing depression can make us unable to absorb the wonderful things around us, we can become desensitised to these natural antidepressants. It can feel as though we are eating a beautiful cake that has no flavour.
On a physical level the water element represents all the fluids of our being, this includes water itself which makes up around 60% of the human body. Varuna Mudra purifies and nourishes your body's fluids, particularly the blood and lymph systems. The mudra has a rehydrating and cooling effect, avoid if you suffer from water retention or oedema.
Water represents movement and fluidity when we focus on strengthening this element we can learn to "go with the flow." Our world is in a constant state of change, learning to accept and adapt to this is important for our wellbeing. These skills can make us more flexible and open-minded, we can find peace with how things really are.
I love this particular mudra, the hand positioning is so easy and comfortable to practice. I believe that many of us can benefit from creating more fluidity in our lives. In the Western World especially, we are bombarded by control and regiment. This sort of practice can be a great way to balance this out and learn to feel more flexibility and freedom from our internal suffering. We can begin to process difficult emotions, face rigid thinking and accept life as it truly is.
Katie has been exploring the human condition for about ten years, She especially finds strength and inspiration in regular yoga and meditation practice. Her aim is to help others through open communication and guidance from a place of love and respect. Alongside training to be a yoga teacher she is also an illustrator, her creativity allows her to enquire into the unknown in a visual way. You can see her artwork at her sparkly new Etsy Shop, Roots Wings and Things, on Pintrest, and on Instagram