I try to listen for the guidance that comes from encounters with certain special people.
This means my head is always alert, and my heart remains open to following an instinctual pulse toward other humans who seem to have a spark when they arrive.
On my last vacation, I was drawn to a family that was renting the cabin next to me. There was something magical about them.
Every morning on that vacation, I walked down to the lake shore and would sit in the early sun to practice my meditations.
One morning, I noticed my “special” neighbors had come down and were observing my daily ritual.
As I walked back to my cabin from the beach, we crossed paths with each other. The one man, who was a middle-aged East Indian fellow, stopped me and asked what kind of meditation I practiced? Today he wore a freshly painted, bright red Bindi over the spot of his third eye, and I thought: “Oh, is he a yogi?”
We had a short discussion about yoga, and then he abruptly looked straight into my eyes and stated, “Your meditation would be much stronger if you held your hands like this when you did it.”
I initially dismissed him (a slight ego defense on my part), and said the way I was doing was the traditional Shambhala style, in which we are instructed to lay our hands flat. He nodded, then smiled and went on his way.
For the next few weeks, I could not get his words out of my head, “Your meditation would be much stronger if you held your hands like this…”—and he had made a specific mudra (a yogic hand posture) that represented universal knowledge.
So eventually, I practiced as he advised, and I began to reconnect with a wisdom I had forgotten—the wisdom of healing that is stored in our hands. This practice of using particular hand postures in yoga is called Hasta Mudra, and it is meant to empower and develop harmony and health in our lives.
In traditional Indian medicine (ayurveda), our hands are believed to represent the entire universe. Each of our fingers and thumbs are said to hold the power of the five building blocks of life, called “Pancha mahabhutas,” which translates from Sanskrit to mean the subtle essence.
The thumb represents fire and the power of self-assertion. The pointer finger represents air and the power of self-worth/knowledge. The middle finger represents ether/space and the power of responsibility. The ring finger represents earth and the power of relationships. Finally the pinky finger represents water and the power of communication.
I hadn’t known it then, but when that neighbor advised me to start using mudras, it was the beginning of a time of massive change for me, in which I would need all the help I could get to navigate.
Since then, mudras have become a daily practice. They lend me strength, balance and the ability to shift things in my body. Now that I am connected to them, I spontaneously do the ones that my body needs.
I practice these four mudras regularly and hope that they can be of benefit to you, for returning to a healing state is achieved when we find balance, and I believe we all have the emotional intelligence to do so.
Gayan Mudra (Mudra of knowledge)
This is one of the most popular mudras in yoga and the one that my neighbor suggested I do.
Start with an open palm. Bring the tip of the pointer finger to the tip of the thumb and keep the other fingers straight. (the tip of our fingers especially are said to activate our energetic points)
Healing benefits: Helps in concentration, increases positivity, and relieves insomnia, stress, anxiety and hypertension while bringing a sense of groundedness.
Vaya Mudra (Mudra of air)
With an open hand bend the pointer finger to touch the base of the thumb. Curl the thumb over and apply a light pressure.
Healing benefits: Relieves air related illnesses such as arthritis, sciatica, neck and spinal pain, gas or bloating and can clear our head.
Prithvi Mudra (Mudra of earth)
As before, start with an open hand. Bring the tip of the ring finger to touch the tip of the thumb and keep the rest of the fingers extended.
Healing benefits: Increases stamina of mind and body, balances weight, improves digestive system function and is said to bring luster to our life.
Prana Mudra (Mudra of life)
From an open palm, curl both the tips of the pinky finger and ring finger so that they touch the tip of the thumb.
Healing benefits: Awakens dormant energy in the body, boosts our immune system, reduces appetite, removes tiredness and brings about more flow.
In yoga, we work on building tools to live healthier and happier lives. I felt blessed by the appearance of my neighbors advice, as it reminded me our hands hold the opportunity for us to become more powerful and alive.
May the light in me see the light in you, and may we bow to each other’s guidance as it comes. May it inform us that we have the innate wisdom to heal our beautiful selves.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Instagram @b_leena
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina