Mudras - hand gestures in yoga

Mudras are hand gestures practiced in yoga, both alone or included with asana (postures) practice, pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation practice.

Practicing Mudras in yoga is a very useful way to effect the body's meridians/ fields of energy, to then turn attention inward in to the body, thus fine-tuning your body awareness.  Furthermore, many mudras have beautiful meaning and to focus on the meaning is rather thought provoking.

As the physical body is made up of five elements: Air, Water, Fire, Earth and Ether, imbalance of these elements disrupts the immunity system and causes disease.  If one or more elements is deficient in the body, any of the elements can be made up by connecting one part of the body with another in a particular manner through Mudras. Each finger represents a different element:  
     1. Thumb = Fire
     2.. Index = Air
     3.  Middle = Ether
     4.  Ring = Earth
     5.  Little = Water
When a finger is brought into contact with the thumb, the element represented by that finger is brought into balance. Therefore we begin to counter disease caused by the imbalance in that area. Mudras start electromagnetic currents within the body, acting on the meridians of energy of the body, which bring balance to the chakras, nadis, elements, organs and organ systems, and aid in overall health. As fingers meet and press into each other, the current of positive energy flow begins. 

Try this, Hold your hands in prayer position, held at the level of your heart.  Rotate the arms inward so that the fingertips point toward your self/toward the heart, while the hands are still palms together, in prayer position.  Feel what wakes up and where your breath goes as a result.  Then rotate the arms so that the fingers point forward, away from you.  This mudra is reminding us of the importance of community - me and you, that happiness in life comes from community, that we turn our attention from the self and recognize the beauty of "us."

Essential oils, whether it is for the sake of enhancing a physical or an emotional benefit, can be applied in the palms beforehand, so the effects of aromatherapy will enhance the value of the mudra.

Enjoy your practice, Namaste!