Mudra: The Dance of Hand and Heart

Posted June 3, 2015

by Johanna Bell

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“To dance, put your hand on your heart and listen to the sound of your soul. ” -Luigi-

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I am obsessed with the power of gesture. No doubt this comes partly from my background in dance and theatre, where movement and gesture are used to communicate when the feeling/emotion/energy-in-motion has transcended words. There is an archetypal quality to many gestures, meaning they speak in a way that is universal. They speak to and from the heart-of-the-matter of being. If you look at the geography of the hands, they connect directly to the heart through the tributaries of the arms. In Chinese medicine, the arms contain the meridians of the heart, lung and pericardium (the breath and pulse of our humanity). The palms contain chakras or energy vortices associated with the heart chakra and there are points all over the hands that correspond to various aspects of the energetic and physical systems. The hands are used to connect, to transmit and to receive energy, information and or healing.

In the yoga tradition, the hands form sacred gestures known as mudra. A mudra is a “seal” or a way to encapsulate the refined essence of a particular vibration. In other words, mudra communicates a quintessential Truth. There are many classic and beautiful mudras that you may touch on in the context of your yoga practice. These are power gestures. When you practice a mudra, don’t just do it because you were told to. Embody it fully and see if you can intuitively tap into the underlying resonance and meaning it contains. Try it now. Place your hands in the iconic gesture of Anjali mudra (hands in prayer at the heart). What do you feel? Please don’t think. Describe the energy as it moves and settles. Call it by name. Trust what you find. Remember, your heart and hands know each other as intimately as a pair of soul mates dancing a pas de deux.


Welcome to our Bread and Yoga Teacher’s Blog! Each month we’ll feature a different teacher on our staff, each one sharing their unique voice with the community. Check out Johanna’s class every Friday at 12:00pm.


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