Adhi mudra, sometimes written as Adi mudra, is the primordial mudra. It is the first hand gesture we make in the womb. Adhi mudra calms and quietens the mind, showing us the stillness that is always there, but which is often masked by all our thoughts, emotions and actions.
If you attended my free Wednesday lunchtime meditation last week you would be aware of Adhi mudra now. Adhi mudra’s main quality is stillness. It helps us to connect with who we are, grounds us as our breath is naturally directed downwards to the base of the body, helps to ease anxiety and may lower blood pressure (1). *If you naturally have very low blood pressure it is important to check in with how you are feeling, and of course cease the mudra if you feel unwell or light-headed at any point.
How do I do it?
To get your hands into Adhi mudra, place your thumbs in across your palms and fold the fingers around the thumbs. Try not to grip too loosely, or too tightly – you want it to be comfortable and something you can hold throughout your meditation or breathing practice. Place your hands palms facing downwards, onto your thighs or in your lap if you are seated, or on the floor next next to you if you are laying down. Get comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Then take your focus down your body and notice how your breath and body feel when you hold the mudra, and then tune in to how you feel when you let it go. With your hands in the mudra again notice how a sense of stillness is permeating through your whole body. Practice and explore – that’s the fun part of it.
What is a mudra?
Mudra is the Sanskrit word for ‘symbolic gesture’. There are hands (hasta) mudras, which are the most common. If you have ever been to a yoga class you will have held a hasta mudra without even knowing it. Putting your hands at your heart space is a mudra. Bringing your index finger and thumb together is a mudra. But there are also other types of mudras, for example mudras of the face and body. Mudras allow us to connect with the philosophical aspects of yoga, which include the 5 koshas (layers of our being), the 5 elements, the 7 chakras, and the 8 limbs of yoga, thus allowing us to be open to profound insights and awakening, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (1).
When are they used?
Mudras are most commonly used during pranayama (focused breathing exercises) or meditation. Usually you would be in a seated position, however you can also use a mudra when laying down or standing. You can basically assume a mudra at any time that you need some extra support. The more you learn about mudras the more tools you have in your toolkit to help ease you through all kinds of emotional experiences. As with any aspect of yoga, hold a mudra only for as long as is comfortable and feels right for you. You can always open your fingers and take the hands into your lap to rest, and then resume again when you are ready.
What are the benefits?
The mudras keep our hands and fingers healthy and can help in preventing, or even treating, conditions such as arthritis when practiced under the guidance of a yoga therapist or teacher. Mudras evoke inherently positive qualities that naturally reside within us. Our fingers contain many nerve endings, which means that they have the ability to make direct communication with our body and our brain.
“Mudras are vehicles for unfolding the inherent positive qualities of our true being, thereby supporting our journey of health, healing and awakening” ~ Joseph & Lilian Le Page.
If you are free on a Wednesday lunchtime then Zoom into my free 25 minute meditation session which varies each week, but will include meditation, mindfulness, mudra and breathing. Here’s the link to find out more.
If you have any further questions, please comment below, or get in touch with me via the website.
Happy hand gesturing to you all.
Om Shanti – Om Peace
- Le Page J. & L., (2014) Mudras For Healing and Transformation. 2nd ed. Integrative Yoga Therapy.