You must have heard a lot about meditation and pranayama. Do you know, this ancient science has been there in India for the last 5,000 years to 8,000 years? This science, when mixed with Ayurveda (the herbal science prominent in the East), has been responsible for taking care of the health and well-being of generations of people. Millions of people have benefited from this ancient science, but unfortunately, there has been no scientific documentation, as such. The Government of India is now putting together an Ayurveda Research Wing as well.
Coming back to meditation and pranayama, interestingly if you observe a baby, from the time it is born to the age of three, it does all the yoga postures. You only need keen observation to recognize this, not a yoga instructor.
Children, if you notice they also do the Cobra pose, where they lie down on their stomach and lift up their neck. Then they do the Boat pose, where they lie on their backs with their hands and legs off the ground.They do almost all the yoga poses before the age of three. We simply need to observe them. Also, the way children breathe is different; they breathe from the belly. Every emotion has a corresponding rhythm in the breath. You may have observed that when you are happy, your breath moves in a different rhythm as compared with when you are unhappy. The temperature, speed, length and the volume of your breath is different. (This is even taught in theatre classes; how to express different emotions by changing the breath.) So, our emotions are linked to the breath and to some parts of the body.
How to do yoga mudras and their benefits
When a baby is born, it is born in a particular mudra, which is called Aadi mudra (thumb tucked into palm and other fingers wrapped into a fist) in the science of yogic texts. When babies sleep, if you notice, they sleep with their hands in Chin mudra (tip of thumb and forefinger touching and other fingers are extended), and Chinmayee mudra (tip of thumb and forefinger touching and other fingers are rolled in touching the palm).They also do the Merudanda mudra (thumb pointing up and other fingers rolled in) when they suck their thumb.
A mudra (hand posture) stimulates certain parts of the brain and certain parts of the body. So babies do all these different mudras. If you notice, whenever someone feels cold, the first natural tendency is to hide the thumbs under the arm-pits, to keep the thumbs warm. Actually, in yoga, the thumbs are very important. It is said, if you keep the thumb warm, the whole body is kept warm.In yoga, it is also said that the tips of our fingers are energy points.
In the whole body, there are 108 chakras, of which 12 are very important, and seven of those are even more important. By placing our attention on these centres, we stimulate and relax these centres.
- Hold the thumb and index finger together lightly while bringing forward the remaining three fingers.
- The thumb and index finger need only touch together, without exerting any pressure.
- Keep the three extended fingers as straight as possible.
- The hands can then be placed on the thighs, facing towards the ceiling.
- Now, observe the flow of breath and its effect.
Benefits of Chin Mudra
- It helps in Better retention and concentration power.
- It Improves sleep patterns.
- It Increases energy in the body.
- It Alleviates lower backache
- In this mudra, the thumb and forefinger form a ring, and the three remaining fingers are curled into the palms of the hands.
- Again, the hands are placed on the thighs with palms facing upwards, and deep comfortable Ujjayi breaths are taken.
- Once more, observe the flow of breath and its effect.
Benefits of Chinmaya Mudra
- It Improves the flow of energy in the body.
- It Stimulates digestion.
- In Adi Mudra, place the thumb at the base of the small finger, and the remaining fingers curl over the thumb, forming a light fist.
- The palms are again placed facing upwards on the thighs facing towards the ceiling and the breathing is repeated.
Benefits of Adi Mudra
- This mudra Relaxes the nervous system.
- It Helps reduce snoring.
- It Improves the flow of oxygen to the head.
- It Increases the capacity of the lungs.
One year ago, scientists in New York declared that if someone meditates for 20 minutes a day for eight weeks regularly, the very structure of the brain changes. The grey matter in the brain increases. This is something phenomenal. We knew this and have experienced this since the ages. We have seen that through meditation, people’s mindset changes. They feel very fresh at any time of the day. Now Science too has approved this. It is said, “Vismayo Yoga Bhumika”. The preface for Yoga is Vismaya or wonderment. When we get into a state of wonder by looking at things around us, then that is when Yoga begins to unfold.
If you notice, whenever someone feels cold, the first natural tendency is to hide the thumbs under the arm-pits, to keep the thumbs warm. Actually, in yoga, the thumbs are very important. It is said, if you keep the thumb warm, the whole body is kept warm. In yoga, it is also said that the tips of our fingers are energy points.
The benefit of asanas is that the body becomes healthy and strong, the breath becomes quiver-free, the mind becomes pleasant, the intellect becomes sharp, self-realisation happens in the consciousness, and intuition improves. There are countless benefits. That is why we must do Yoga and meditation for a short while every day. Yoga is a skill in communication. It is the skill to relate to people. You can learn more about yoga and meditation in various programs run by the Art of Living, such as the Happiness Program by the Art of Living. Enroll in a free meditation session with our experts, now. Practising Yoga helps develop the body and mind, yet is not a substitute for medicine. It is essential to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained Yoga teacher. In case of any medical condition, practice yoga only after consulting your doctor and a Sri Sri Yoga teacher.