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Hridaya Mudra

Freedom in Genuine Love

I don’t know what it is about this mudra but I legitimately feel my shoulders dropping twenty fathoms under the sea whenever I practice with it.

A beautiful, heart opening stress reliever; it is said to help the release of pent-up emotions and aid in compassionate communication.

For anyone unfamiliar with the elements, Air is often associated with freedom, joy, intelligence, communication, laughter and generally having fun.

But Air can also have its bad days. When unbalanced, it is known for erratic behaviour, mental disorders and sometimes being downright brutal with words.

If you find yourself caught in inner-turmoil or a disagreement, Hridaya Mudra can be an exceptional companion through this rocky time. It landed the name “Compassionate Heart Gesture” for a good reason. Here, the aim is unconditional love.

We connect with Air element via the index finger and, in Yogic philosophy, this represents the ego.

About three-thousand years ago, the term ahamkara appeared in Vedic texts. The word aham translated as “I” or relating to the Spirit, and kara translated to “any created thing” or “to do”. Various streams of philosophical discussions stemmed from this.

But to boil it down right now; to be in a state of ahamkara means we are an “instrument of the Spirit”, living in illusion. The ego is involved in upholding maya, and even participates in constructing it.

We cannot be our Self when in a state of ahamkara. We want to temper our ego.

Although the ego is often misunderstood and is extremely important to living within the material world, we practice Yoga to remember we are much more than “I”.

After all, the very word Yoga is concerned with interconnectivity and balance.

Once we understand ahamkara, we are in a much better position to realise our inner nature and behaviours – and therefore, the nature and behaviour of others.

The Great Goddess Durga (Mahishasuramardini) Slaying the Buffalo Demon, Kota (Rajasthan, India), watercolour and metallic paint on paper, c. 1750

Practicing with Hridaya Mudra focuses our attention on such matters in a way that is balanced. The beauty of it lies with its connection to the hri or *heart*, which is also connected by the index finger. The heart chakra governs the respiratory and circulatory systems of the body, and holding this mudra guides the flow of prana, freeing any blockages we hold in this chakra.

  • Come into your choice of seated pose. For this mudra, you can also try laying down on your back or standing if you prefer.

  • With both hands, bend your index fingers down until the tips curl to touch their bases, forming a little o.

  • Make sure the knuckle of your index fingers touch the base of your thumbs.

  • Bring the tips of your middle and ring fingers to touch the top of your thumbs.

  • Keep your little fingers extended but relaxed.

  • Place the mudras on your respective thighs or knees. If you are standing / laying down, bring them to your sides with arms away from the body and your legs slightly apart.

  • Close your eyes and hold for however long is needed within your meditation practise.

As you can see, the index finger bows down to the mighty element of Fire, represented by the thumb.

In fact, there are a few elements involved with bringing balance to the disrupted heart, caught in the grip of ego.

The thumb completes a circuit with the middle finger (Ether element), representing freedom, and the ring finger (Earth element) to help stabilise us.

With this winning combination of elements, this mudra works to drop and expel the burdens of the heart. Although relatively easy to hold, it is complex in its action. I think this is why there are so many ways in which we can work with it.

If you already have a solid Metta Bhavana meditation practice, Hridaya Mudra pairs perfectly. This is my teacher’s personal go-to meditation practice and it’s quite a lovely one. This type of meditation has various stages, so I would recommend you follow along with a teacher or only practice up to the first stage, offering yourself plenty of self-love before feeling more comfortable to progress further.

Another fabulous way to work with this mudra is to set a sankalpa or intention for yourself.

I am open to receive and give love.

I forgive myself.

I am connected to the Great Mystery and I act from a place of love.

I am free to feel at home in myself.

I am letting go.


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