When I fist came across working with Mudras I immediately noticed a difference in my practice and my experience of the breath. The word mudra may be translated as ‘seal’ or ‘lock’ and they are used to direct, intensify, seal or prevent the loss of prana, our energy. When the mudra (hand gestures) are placed in a particular way they have different effects. Below is a simple way of exploring that.
Do not worry if it takes time to notice the subtleties of the effects. A quiet focused mind and smooth breath may be needed so be patient to allow your breath and mind to become calm and steady..
This sequence below also strengthens our awareness of breath in different parts of our torso and different lobes of our lungs. This is all part of our journey towards greater breath awareness.
For the practice below sit comfortably. Keep the spine straight and the hips and knees comfortable. Maybe sit on a block or cushion or against a wall.
The first two hand positions can be practiced with the palms facing down which feels a little different. Focus your mind on your natiral uncontrolled breathing and stay with each mudra for about 10-15 breaths.
Lower chest/ Abdominal breathing. Feel thte breath move in the front, sides and the back of the lower chest and abdomen.
Gyan mudra/ chin mudra. Join the thumb and forefinger to make a circle. (fingerip to thumb directs energy inwards and fingertip curled in base of thumb directs energy outwards) Keep the other three fingers straight and parallel.
Mid chest breathing. Feel the ribs expand in every direction. To me it often feels as though the ribs expand sideways using this mudra.
Chimaya Mudra. John index finger to thumb to form a circle, curl the other fingers into the palm. Shoulders relaxed
Upper chest breathing. Focus on the breath travelling in the front, sides and back of chest.
Adi mudra. Make a soft fist with fingers closed around the thumb. Palm facing down resting the fist on the upper thigh. Shoulders relaxed
Complete breathing with Brahma Mudra. Both hands in loose fists with thumb on inside (like Adi mudra). Join the knuckles at the naval and keep palms facing up. This brings the impact of the previous three mudras together with a sensation of fullness of breath and pranic energy in the whole torso.
After your last exhale in this mudra maybe relax your hands onto the thighs and sit quietly for a few minutes.
Then maybe work through the Pavanmuktasana series below. Framing each movement with your breath to make it a more meditative joint freeing practice.