By Rajendar Menen July 2006 Mudras, also known as yoga of the hands, help normalize body elements, liberate trapped energy and preserve physical and emotional health. In a sparsely furnished apartment at Juhu Gully in suburban Mumbai, 66-year-old Ramesh Shah spends his time mastering the intricacies of mudra therapy and passing on the knowledge to those keen on benefiting from it. ‘It is a simple way of preserving your health,’ says Shah. ‘You don’t have to waste money and time on doctors and medicines. Add a few basic rules of health to a 30-minute mudra session a day and you can be disease-free.’ It is believed that the human being is made up of fire, air, water, earth and sky. These elements are in fixed proportions and even the slightest imbalance can result in disease. Mudras, also known as yoga of the hands, help normalize the five elements in the human body. They are easy to do and help liberate the energy locked within the body – in energy channels called nadis and energy centers called chakras. Mudras help create inner peace, eliminate fatigue, protect physical and emotional health, calm the mind and promote happiness, love, prosperity and longevity. They require no previous yogic experience or knowledge, no athleticism, and can be done anywhere, even from a sick bed, and without props. But how did Shah, a businessman, step on this secret? He suffered from high blood pressure and gastric complaints for a long time. Not too keen on taking recourse in conventional medicine, he looked around for alternatives and met a mudra teacher. Shah tried out the mudras and was cured. The Good Samaritan in him peeked out and he decided to spread the word. ‘There are several mudras,’ explains Shah. He claims to have mastered 45 of them. ‘But there are a few one can do every day. They really help.’ He then tells you how to do them. ‘In gyan mudra, simply touch the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index finger. You don’t have to press the fingers hard. The remaining three fingers can be kept straight.’ This mudra can be done anywhere and with both hands. It can be done for long periods too. Shah says that it helps ease the mind of tension. In vayu mudra, which he highly recommends, the index finger should be bent to touch the root of the thumb, on the mount of Venus. Apply light pressure over it with the thumb. The other three fingers can be straightened. This mudra helps relieve vayu or wind in the body. It is beneficial for chronic gastric problems and should be done every day for 15 to 45 minutes. ‘Surya mudra is excellent for cough and pollution-related problems,’ continues Shah. Like the other mudras, it is also simple to perform. ‘Bend the ring finger and lightly press the tip of the base of the thumb with the thumb gently pressing it, while keeping the other fingers straightened out. This mudra, if practiced every day for about 15 minutes, both morning and evening, helps in reducing fat and alleviates mental tension.’ According to Shah, this mudra is most effective when done with both hands while sitting in padmasana position. ‘It puts pressure on the thyroid gland.’ The detoxification mudra is done with both hands. Place each thumb on the inner edge of the third joint of the ring finger. All the other fingers should be relaxed and extended. The ksepana mudra stimulates the elimination of toxins through the large intestine, skin and lungs. In this mudra, the index fingers of both hands should be placed vertically against one another. The other fingers are clasped and interlocked with the fingers of one hand resting on the back of the other hand. The thumbs are crossed tight and placed against the hollow of the other thumb. The two touching index fingers should only have their tips meeting and there should be space between them. When seated, the index fingers should be pointed to the ground and when lying down they should be pointed to the direction of the feet. The hands should be relaxed. This mudra should be held for seven to 15 breaths concentrating on the exhalation. Then the hands should be placed on the thighs with the palms turned upwards. In lotus mudra, the hands are kept together, the fingers vertical, relaxed and spread out. The lower portion of the palms touch as well as the pads of the little fingers and thumbs. If the hands are closed, they resemble the buds of a lotus flower. When the hands open and the fingers spread out wide, it is like the lotus opening. After four deep breaths, close both hands back into a bud and place the fingernails of the fingers of both hands on top of each other. Then join the back of the fingers, the back of the hands and allow the hands to hang down for a while, all relaxed. Bring the hands back into the bud position and the open flower. Repeat several times. This mudra belongs to the heart chakra and is the symbol for purity. It is invaluable during periods of loneliness and despair. Along with these mudras, Shah believes that eschewing white rice, white sugar and white flour will also contribute to good health. He also recommends an early and light dinner. ‘While doing the mudras it helps if you sit with a mat or a cloth on the floor,’ he says. ‘Sit in the padmasana position or in the vajarasana position. You can even sit in the normal position with legs crossed.’ Shah wakes up a little after sunrise every day and is off to impart his knowledge of mudras to those who have sought his help. His students include industrialists and professionals. After a session of mudras, they are well prepared to take on the challenges of a new day. People also visit him at home on prior appointment. He has brought a spring to his twilight years, and health and happiness all around. Ramesh Shah resides in Mumbai and can be contacted at 26710369/ 56260369/ 20594788
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