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The Science of Yoga Mudras

Wait a minute! Did my yoga instructor just flash some gang signs in class? That’s probably what you thought at first when your teacher started making weird symbols with his hands in your yoga lesson. But that is certainly not the case. What he was doing was something called Mudras. They are basically yoga postures for your hands. (Yes, your hands can do yoga, too.) So, what are these symbols and what do they mean? And what do they have to do with getting more flexible hamstrings? Let’s find out. 

What Are Mudras? 

One of the main intentions of practicing of yoga is to have a greater awareness of yourself. The discipline allows you to take a closer look at your inner self. This is done through meditation, yoga postures, but also in other meaningful ways. Mudras can be added to the yoga experience; they are hand gestures that are associated with raising energy levels in the body. It is a way to channel the energetic flow (Prana) during meditation or some yoga poses.  

The word “Mudra” is a Sanskrit word. (Sanskrit is a dead language, but it is still used when studying parts of the yoga philosophy. Many of the yoga terms we know today are derived from Sanskrit.) When examined in two parts (“mud” + “dhra”) it means “bliss dissolving meaning.” (Ok, what does THAT mean?) It refers to the notion that we as humans can dissolve the relationship between our physical presence with the presence of the Divine. Mudra essentially means bringing the Divine and the Yogi together as one. (Wow!) That is a very powerful notion, yet one that is deeply honored and practiced in the wide spectrum of yoga. 

There are hundreds of yoga Mudras, but there are several that are commonly practiced to direct this Pranic energy and Divine connection. Here are a few. 

Gyan Mudra 

This hand gesture is probably the most recognized of all the Mudras. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses, for example, you may see them sitting with their index fingers touching the tip of their thumbs. The other three fingers extend outward. This Mudra is said to improve your concentration and sharpen your memory. While in a meditative state, it allows the practitioner to connect deeply within; it wards off the external noise as well as the internal mental distractions. 

Shuni Mudra 

This is also a fairly common Mudra. It is believed that it improves your intuition and mental alertness. It also has a cleansing effect; it can help to purify your thoughts and feelings. This Mudra is done by gently pressing the tip of your middle finger against the tip of your thumb. Your other fingers simply remain relaxed. 

Prana Mudra 

A Mudra that is considered very important in a meditative practice is the Prana Mudra. Again, you may see this gesture depicted in Hindu pictures, but present-day practitioners use this Mudra as well. When the energy in your body feels stagnant, this Mudra is said to reactivate its flow. Prana is the “life force” in all living things. Essentially, you want Prana to flow fluidly throughout the body. You can awaken this energy flow by touching your ring and pinky fingers to the tip of your thumb. The other fingers remain straight. 

closeup of colorful woman hand in mudra gesture practice yoga outdoor shot

As you can imagine from these descriptions, there is a lot of mysticism that is associated with yoga. Mythology and ancient folklore is all apart of the historical nature and the understanding of yoga. Mudras are a part of the historical practices and beliefs that enhance the yogic experience. But an important question is “how effective are these hand gestures?” “Do they ACTUALLY do anything?” You know for a fact that when you sit in a Seated Forward Fold yoga posture, your hamstrings will lengthen. But what occurs when you press the tips of your fingers together? Luckily there is science that can back up the resourcefulness and effectiveness of these hand gestures. Here is what the research has shown. 

Now, we may not be able to measure how much of a connection you can establish with deities and demigods, but science can certainly examine energy flow in the body by measuring the electro-neural networks in the physical body. 

The Science of Mudras Explained 

The research that has been dedicated to understanding Mudras is called Electrophotonic Imaging or EPI. In this procedure, the coronal discharge (or electron capturing) is measured around a specific area of the body, in this case, your fingertips. (Okay, what does this all mean in English?) 

What’s An Electron? 

One way energy is measured is through electrons. Electrons are a negatively charged particle that can be free-floating or attached to the nucleus of an atom. When attached to the atom, it combines with the positive charge of the protons, also within the nucleus of the atom, creating a balance. Imagine a ball of energy encased in a spherical shell that can come in various sizes. The degree of size represents the energy level held within this sphere. The larger the shell, the higher the energy level. 

What is Electron Capturing? 

Electron Capturing is the process in which the proton-rich nucleus of an electrically neutral atom absorbs an inner atomic electron. This action changes a nuclear proton to a neutron and simultaneously causes the emission of an electron neutrino. (Ummm…..WHAT??) 

Imagine this…a Neutral Atom Apartment occupied by Peter Proton and offers his spare room to a potential roommate, Eddie Electron. When Eddie Electron moves in, it creates an energetic change in the Atom Apartment. It converts the Neutral Proton Bachelor Pad into a Fresh & New Neutron (“Electrifying Party Central”) which causes the eviction of X-Rays and Neutrinos that are just waste, decay, and garbage. The result is a much more stable household. When a Neutrino exits the apartment, there is a photographer waiting outside (the Electrophotonic Imaging Photographer) taking pictures of each Neutrino to accurately identify them. The more that exit, the more energized the apartment. 

Alright, this may be a crude way to explain Electron Capturing, but it may give you some reference as to how energy parameters are measured when studying the effectiveness of mudras. 

In the study done with a Mudra Group and Control Group, the average values of the EPI parameters were statistically higher in the Mudra Group than in the Control Group over a course of three days. Mudra practice of a longer duration showed a significant change in the EPI parameter. Basically this means that more positive energy was emitted throughout the body if Mudras were practiced for at least 20 minutes each day over a course of several days. 

So, if you’re wanting to raise some good energy, try practicing these yoga mudras to heighten your awareness and clear your Neutral Atom Apartment. 

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