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5 Mudras for respiratory health

One fascinating aspect of yoga and meditation practices is the use of mudras or hand gestures to help channel energy and influence the body's wellbeing. Holding a mudra can bring a powerful and profound steadiness and focus to your practice. You can even control the flow of your breath through mudras.


Stone Buddha statue with right hand in Gyan Mudra

Photo by Bharath Reddy

Impact of mudras on respiratory health


Research published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Anatomy and Physiology found that lung specific mudras could improve the respiratory function in asthma patients when practiced along with focused breathing.


The hand and finger positions of mudras make important connections in the nervous system and stimulate specific energy pathways or nadis.


Mudras can also increase energy and blood circulation to different parts of the brain, to important nerve junctions and glands. Early yogis mapped out the hand areas and their associated reflexes which relate to the different areas of the body and brain.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Autumn is the season of dryness, contraction and moving inward, and it corresponds to the lungs and large intestine. During this season, our lungs are more susceptible to respiratory pathogens and they need more support to weather this seasonal change.


If your lungs start to feel “under the weather”, use this tried and tested mudra series for effort-less breath. You can practice each on their own or as a 30-minute sequence for optimal health. Meditate on the flow of the breath. Bring your awareness to the subtle flow of energy in and around the body. To the quality and pace of your breath . And to sensations in your fingertips and hands. What is the mudra doing for you? Is there a resonance in other parts of the body?


1. Anjali or Namaskara Mudra (Prayer Pose)

Anjali or Namaskara Mudra (Prayer Pose)
Anjali 'Prayer' mudra x5 mins

Instruction 5 minutes

  • Rub hands together until warm to open energy flow between the hands and the heart

  • Bring palms together so all ten fingers connect and point upwards

  • Press thumbs to centre of chest

Anjali mudra activates the five elements and senses. It integrates the two sides of the brain and stimulates the vagus nerve to strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system. This in turn helps calm the heart, emotions and nervous tension.



2. Bronchial Mudra

Bronchial Mudra
Bronchial mudra x5 mins

Instruction 5 minutes

  • Fold little finger to base of thumb

  • Touch ring finger to upper thumb joint

  • Touch thumb pad to tip of middle finger

  • Extend index finger

  • Rest both hands in mudra on knees

Bronchial mudra can help relieve chest congestion, regulate breathing and improve the flow of oxygen in the blood. A useful mudra treat asthma, bronchitis and allergies.



3. Asthma Mudra

Asthma Mudra
Asthma mudra x5 mins

Instruction 5 minutes

  • Press the fingernails of middle fingers together and keep others extended

  • Thumbs point towards chest, heel of hands are open

Asthma mudra relaxes the bronchial tubes and with regular practice can offer effective relieve for asthma and breathing disorders. Practice it with this affirmation by Gertrud Hirschi, author of Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands:


I detach myself from everything that constricts me and fully enjoy my new freedom. I feel safe and secure in the Divine light, which gives me support.


4. Bhramara or Bee Mudra

Bhramara or Bee Mudra
Bhramara 'Bee" mudra x7 mins

Instruction 7 minutes

  • Touch index fingertip to base of thumb

  • Touch thumb to middle finger between side of fingernail and first joint

  • Extend ring and little finger

  • Rest both hands in mudra on knees

Bee mudra improves the health of lungs and thymus, strengthening the immune system. It can help reduce environmental sensitivity, creating harmony between inner and outer environments. Bring this mudra into your daily practice to help establish healthy boundaries and strengthen the heart chakra. It can also be used to treat allergies, coughs, congestion, asthma and sinusitis.



5. Linga or Fire Mudra

Linga or Fire Mudra
Linga 'Fire' mudra x8 mins

Instruction 8 minutes

  • Interlace fingers, right little finger on bottom

  • Extend right thumb up and circle left thumb around base of the right thumb

  • Touch left thumb tip to tip of left index finger

Linga mudra increases will power, self-confidence and focus. Use it to strengthen your sense of self and identity. It increases heat in the body and overcomes lethargy. It also benefits thyroid and liver function and can help relieve shivers and chills, cold and flu-like symptoms. Another useful mudra for asthma and over production of mucus.


Neural science of mudras


We can compare mudras with acupressure, where the nerves are influenced by applying pressure on certain points of body. Or to acupuncture, where slight electrical impulses are conveyed through fine needles inserted in the body.


One of the benefits of mudra therapy is that you can control the pressure applied on the nerves through the shape and size of your fingers and not by external means. I call this therapeutic power at your fingertips ‘pocket wisdom’.


Because the mudras work on the nerves, they are a neural science. Mudras apply tension to the nerves which form the psycho-neural circuits and help balance the five basic elements. Balancing the elements can help reduce coughs, cold, congestion and chest infections.


Redirecting internal energy through mudras also leads to changes in veins, tendons, glands and sensory organs, bringing the body back to a healthy state.


 
Published research

S Kaniethapriya, A., Anu, S., Paul, R. and Jeyashree (2019). Effect of specific yoga mudras on respiratory efficiency in asthma patients. Indian Journal of Clinical Anatomy and Physiology, 6(3), pp.353–358.


Singh, K. (2015). Hasta Mudra’s and respiratory system. International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health, [online] 1(6), pp.83–86.

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