A mudrā (English: /muːˈdrɑː/ ( listen); Sanskrit: मुद्रा "seal", "mark", or "gesture"; Tibetan. ཕྱག་རྒྱ་, chakgya) is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduismand Buddhism. While some mudrās involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers. A mudrā is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions and traditions of Dharma and Taoism.
One hundred and eight mudras are used in regular Tantric rituals.
In yoga, mudrās are used in conjunction with pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), generally while seated in Padmasana, Sukhasana or Vajrasanapose, to stimulate different parts of the body involved with breathing and to affect the flow of prana in the body.
A brain research paper published in the National Academy of Sciences in November 2009, demonstrated that hand gestures stimulate the same regions of the brain as language.
Nomenclature and etymology
The Chinese translation is yin (Chinese: 印; pinyin: yìn) or yinxiang (Chinese: 印相; pinyin: yìnxiàng). The Japanese and Korean pronunciation is "in".
Mudrā is used in the iconography of Hindu and Buddhist art of the Indian subcontinent and described in the scriptures, such as Nātyaśāstra, which lists 24 asaṁyuta ("separated", meaning "one-hand") and 13 saṁyuta ("joined", meaning "two-hand") mudrās. Mudrā positions are usually formed by both the hand and the fingers. Along with āsanas ("seated postures"), they are employed statically in the meditation and dynamically in Nāṭya practice of Hinduism. Each mudrā has a specific effect on the practitioner. Common hand gestures are to be seen in both Hindu and Buddhist iconography. In some regions, for example Thailand and Laos, these are different from each other, but related iconographic conventions are used.
According to Jamgon Kongtrul in his commentary on the Hevajra Tantra, the symbolic bone ornaments (Skt: aṣṭhiamudrā; Tib: rus pa'i rgyanl phyag rgya) are also known as "mudra" or "seals".