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From Hand to Heart

Discover the power of mudras (hand gestures) for cultivating inner peace, courage, and confidence.

By Kelly McGonigal

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Yoga classes often begin and end with the hands in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal, sometimes called Prayer Position), as a reminder that your practice is a form of prayer or offering to your true Self. By joining your hands together like this, you make a physical gesture of union—a symbolic reference of the union of your individual sense of self and the universal Self, in which you are aware of the interconnectedness of all living beings. As you hold the gesture and infuse it with the intention of union, you might notice a shift take place in your mind and your heart; you might clearly see how to act from that sense of connection.

Mudra (hand gesture) is a method of citta-bhavana, or cultivating a specific state of mind. There are dozens of mudras, and each represents a certain quality, such as compassion, courage, or wisdom. It is believed that, by practicing mudra, you awaken the seeds of these states within you.

Mudras can be found in the art and rituals of many sacred traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and hatha yoga. Many of the best-known mudras represent the qualities of a bodhisattva, a yogic warrior who fights fearlessly to end the suffering of all beings. The origins of specific mudras are unknown, but it is believed that each gesture is the natural outer expression of an enlightened inner state. You can think of mudras as the sign language that springs from an open mind and an awakened heart.

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Reader Comments

Jeanine

Darlene - I would suggest some beginning yoga DVDs - these would allow you to follow along and learn some basic, gentle yoga poses. I personally think Suzanne Deason has some great gentle videos - try "Yoga for Weight Loss" or "AM/PM Yoga" by her; those are basic and gentle, she provides good cues for the poses and her voice is soothing. I have seen them on Amazon and at Target...Hope this helps. Best wishes...Namaste. - Jeanine

muniraja

thanks for this =)

Darlene

I am a newcomer and I have a couple of questions. First, I am finding it difficult to relax as I do some of the poses, because as I am trying to manuever to pose, I either straining or I really just get out of focus. Is there certain poses for the beginner to get adjusted to the bends & poses? The other question is how do you know what music to play in the background? I know these are probably silly questions, but I really would like to get more flexible, I am diagnosed w/ fibromyalgia and when I stretch, I feel really great. Thanks, Darlene

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