Mudras, meaning gestures, are generally hand gestures although there are some body mudras as well. They support pranayama (breath work), meditation and asana and you may be surprised how often you use mudras in your everyday life without knowing it. Mudras have a certain energetic power. You could say that pointing yor finger at someone is a mudra and a good example of their energy. When you point at someone or someone points are you, there is quite a strong energetic feeling about it. Giving the someone the bird has a particular energetic quality to it too, as the giver and the receiver, there is generally a clear message...
The Prana Nadi Mudras are a set of mudras I like to use in meditation. Prana is the energetic life force that enlivens every living thing, it is most readily available through the breath, and the Nadis are the pathway through which prana flows. This set of mudras is about directing and feeling the subtle movement of breath in each part of the torso/lungs.
The mudras can be used independently or together, however I find I get the most benefit when I use them as a set.
Begin in your favourite meditation posture with the spine straight and hands resting palms down on the thighs. We always begin meditation with the palms down. it helps us to ground and centre before moving into the mudras. When you first begin this practice, hold each mudra for 2 minutes and then over time you can begin to extend it to 5 minutes.
1. Kanishta Prana Nadi Mudra (or Chin mudra)
Bring the tips of the thumb and index fingers together, palms still facing down on the thighs. Extend the other three fingers out. Soften through the spine, arms and shoulders as you allow your attention to be drawn to a felt sense of the breath in the lowest lobes of the lungs, front back and sides, maybe even down into the pelvis.
2. Madhyama Prana Nadi Mudra (or Chinmaya mudra)
Keeping the tips of the thumb and index fingers together as they are, curl the three extended fingers into the palms so that the tips of the fingers are gently pressing into the palms and the palms are still facing down on the thighs. Staying relaxed through the spine, arms and shoulders, allow your attention to be drawn to a felt sense of the breath in the middle lobes of the lungs, front back and sides.
3. Jyesththa Prana Nadi Mudra (or Adi mudra)
Curl the thumbs into the palms and wrap the fingers around the thumbs, palms still facing down on the thighs. Staying relaxed through the spine, arms and shoulders, allow your attention to be drawn to a felt sense of the breath in the upper lobes of the lungs, upper chest, upper back, collar bones and shoulders.
4. Poorna Prana Nadi Mudra (or Brahma mudra)
Keeping the hands in the same shape as Jyesththa Prana Nadi Mudra (fingers wrapped around the thumbs), bring the backs of the knuckles together, palms facing up now and the little fingers gently pressing into the tummy below the belly button. Staying relaxed through the spine, arms and shoulders, allow your attention to be drawn to a felt sense of the breath in all lobes of the lungs, upper, middle, lower, front and back.
Finally, release the hands back to the thighs and sit in being for as long as you like.
Click here for a guided video of the practice.
Miller, R. Mudra - Gateways to Self-Understanding. San Rafael: Anahata Press.