I came across the mudra you see in this photo, for the first time, in the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala.
So, What is a mudra?
A Mudra is literally speaking, a ‘pose’. Mudras direct the flow of energy through body chakras as long as you hold them.
In yoga and meditation, mudras and chakras are extremely important.
If you don’t know what chakras
are, read about them here
- Each ‘mudra’ targets one of 7 chakras of the human body’s energy system and helps you tune into the energy of the particular chakra and its significance.
- As a way to learn from ‘the source’, as has been my philosophy, for the last 3-4 years of my meditation practice I have been studying and replicating hand mudras depicted in sculptures, idols and statues of great sages and gods.
- And I’ve discovered that if you observe closely, the yogic mudra each deity or sage is depicted holding, has a lot to do with their message to the world.
Take the following examples for a better understanding of this point:
Depicted holding a variety of mudras in padmasana, but depicted meditating in a perfectly balanced meditative mudra with the right hand resting on top of the left, as well as the right leg on top of the left.
The right side of the body is the solar side of the body and commands logic. The left side is the emotional side of the body. What this mudra shows is the philosophy of logic over emotions with ‘balance‘. If you know anything about Buddhism, you must be aware that this what forms the crux of the teachings of the Buddha.
Following logic and practicing the middle path.
Depicted with hands raised above the head at the level of the Shasrara chakra.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is famous for his divine connection with the divine in the form of his unwavering devotion or bhakti.
The Sahasrara Chakra is the chakra of the other dimension, uniting the human body with higher planes of consciousness such as the perception of and acceptance of the ‘divine’.
With the continuous practice of the ‘Bhakti Mudra‘, one raises their energy upwards towards the Sahasrara and connects to the higher consciousness.
Only by developing the higher consciousness can you come into terms with the fact that there is a universal power far above the material plane and that there is much more to this world than meets the eye.
Even the subtle variations in a mudra can dictate huge energy pattern changes.
You can distinctly feel these changes during meditation if you hold a particular mudra and observe the ‘flow of energy’.
On the first day of my yoga class in the Shiva hall, I saw Swami Vishnudevananda’s photograph with him holding the ‘grounding mudra’ and I was deeply intrigued.
You see, this is a mudra not corresponding to any of the regular hand mudras for any of the 7 chakras.
Vishnudevananda is revered as a guru who promoted yoga on a very large scale along with his quintessential message of universal love and peace.
- Now, this mudra resembles the mudra for the solar plexus to a huge extent but it isn’t exactly that.
- It also resembles the mudra for the Sacral Chakra but it isn’t exactly that either.
In his texts, Vishnudevananda has described the Kundalini energy to exist coiled between the Solar Plexus and Sacral Chakra.
That is very interesting because it diverges somewhat from the classical tantra texts
that describe the kundalini energy to exist at the base of the spine at the Mooladhara or Root Chakra.
Another important piece of background information required to better understand a mudra is the legacy left behind by the guru, sage, deity or the mythological underpinnings of the God shown holding the mudra.
Every ashram or monastery has a paramount ‘deity’.
This deity is considered to be the protector and guide of the ashram/ monastery.
In the Sivananda Ashram, Shakti worship is paramount and Fridays (representing the day of Adi Shakti or the Divine Goddess) are kept free as holidays for the ashram inmates.
No ‘work’ is scheduled on that day except the group worship of an idol of Adi Shakti in an Adi Shakti temple in the Ashram. The doors of that temple are opened only on Fridays and for a short duration every morning.
This is one of the ways of energizing a specific ‘area’ in a temple, monastery or ashram.
It is common to many religions but its significance in this case highlights a definitive leaning towards channelization of sexual energy.
You see tantra is all about channelizing the primordial force of sex and raw animalistic needs for a higher expression. Mostly that higher expression is the expression of universal love.
This ashram was built by Vishnudevananda so it follows his approach and philosophy towards yoga and kundalini meditation.
So with him practicing a mudra that unites the energies of the Sacral Chakra and the Solar Plexus while pointing it downwards, shows his approach to the practice of yoga and meditation.
Over the course of the entire week that I was there, I consciously held this mudra to tune into the energy of the mudra.
I held the mudra during meditation, normal conversations, lectures and basically at any point of time such as while sitting idle or during satsang (group chanting, devotional singing and prayers).
The experience I had with it was unlike any other !
- You see, the positioning of this mudra is right in front of the root chakra.
- So the root chakra is central to the energy flow being created by it.
- If you are familiar with the chakra symbol of the root chakra you will see that the mudra in itself forms an inverted triangle like the root chakra symbol.
- The root chakra is the chakra of grounding and stability. It is also the chakra of life force.
When you combine the energies of the Sacral Chakra and Solar Plexus and then channel them downwards to the Root Chakra, you are grounding all your energies into the first chakra.
It is through that means that you are connecting to the core of the Earth so to speak. In a more mundane sense, you are connecting your consciousness to the ground realities of life and becoming more observant and receptive in the process.
Here are some key points of my experience with this ‘Grounding Mudra‘ :
Not the absence of thought but the conscious absence of any sort of worry and a conscious control over my thoughts and ideas.
Not just a mere ‘sense’ of stability but actual stability. As in, it’s very easy to sit with this mudra for long periods of time and be fully stable emotionally as well as physically.
There’s a reason that Buddhist monks prefer red robes. You see, the 7th chakra, the Sahasrara chakra, is the chakra of enlightenment and complete astral connection.
However, to reach that level, you need to be firmly in the current moment at all times. You need to be firmly mindful of your surroundings, your breath and mindful of your mindfulness itself. This is how you develop self control, self mastery and through that, the highest form of self development.
To read about mudras, mindfulness and meditation, keep following this space.
Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu : ISKCON Bangalore
Meditating Buddha: Dolls Of India
Swami Vishnudevananda: Sivananda Yoga Ranch
Root chakra symbol: 7wisdoms.org