I learned about mudras, Sanskrit for hand gestures early on while studying ballet. Although my ballet teacher didn't use the word mudras she often explained that a dancer's hand elongates by reaching far out with all fingers then sealing your energy in by taking the middle finger and thumb to gently touch. Later when I studied a little Indian classical dance I was fascinated with how placing your hands in different intricate positions can convey a sign language message to those that understand mudras.
From a yoga perspective mudra making is referred to as a subtle body teaching. Similar to the chakras which means the body's energy centers and the bandhas which means the body's locks. Since mudras have an abstract quality they need to be felt by the practitioner rather than explained in great detail. Therefore in the spirit of keeping my mudra definition simple and easy to digest, yoga's mudras like in dance enable you to appear graceful while your energy is powerfully circulating within and not spilling out as a result of your hand's seal. There are many mudras to choose from that is why I went through my photo archives and posted a few pictures of the most frequently used mudras.
Finally a worthwhile mudra fact is that each finger on your hand represents an element in nature. Your thumb represents fire, pointer- air, middle- ether, ring- earth, pinky- water. My suggestion is to be creative the next time you practice yoga and intuitively place different fingers together and feel if it strengthens your stance, lightens your look, contains your energy and connects you to all that surrounds you.
|The hand by my nose is in Vishnu mudra and the hand on my lap is in jnana mudra|