Why the hands are important in yoga and meditation

The Watermill at Posara for painting, knitting, yoga, cookery holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.As you know, the Italians use their hands a lot in communication – indeed it has been said that they had to make Italian telephone boxes larger than those in the rest of Europe, otherwise people were unable to communicate properly by waving their arms and hands abou!

But did you know that hand gestures are an important part of yoga and meditation practice, too? I didn’t until our inspirational teacher Claire Murphy sent me another of her fascinating notes about some of the poses and practices she will be teaching on her yoga and meditation retreat here in September. The retreat is called Nourish – mind, body and soul, and there are details of how to find out more below.

Today Claire is telling us about mudras, gestures that are made with the hands – bringing the fingers into different positions that promote the stimulation of the five elements: fire, air, water, earth and sky. She says: “Our yoga postures, breathing and meditation practices promote balancing and normalising of the body/mind energy system and mudras encourage the same.”

Claire tells me: “We have a tremendous amount of energy in our hands and each finger represents one of the five elements: the thumb is fire (agni), the index finger is air (vayu), the middle finger is sky (akash), the ring finger is earth (prithvi) and the little finger is water (jal).” (The words in brackets are the Sanskrit terms for the elements)

Claire will particularly be teaching her students here about Pushan Mudra: “We bring the tips of the thumbs to the two middle fingers. The other two fingers (index and little fingers) are extended. 

“The mudra signifies accepting and receiving with one hand and letting go with the other. It is also said to be stimulating for the brain. Given that the mudra is dedicated to the sun god, it is suggested that it helps with the digestive system, which also corresponds to the element of fire (agni).”

Claire adds: “Unlike yoga postures and breathing practices, which are best understood by working with an experienced teacher, mudras are easy to learn and safe to practice solo.”

So, you can try this at home and prefect your technique during Claire’s week-long retreat at the Watermill this September.
Yoga retreat at The Watermill in Tuscany, yoga and meditation retreats

We’ll nourish your soul on rural walks and visits to ancient walled towns and hilltop villages, castles and14432947_10154449229557557_403500150842892678_nconvents. You’ll also savour the relaxed atmosphere of la bella vita italiana in local cafes, shops, restaurants and markets. We’ll venture a little journal writing and painting in The Watermill studio overlooking the river or under the shade of the vine verandah to nourish your mind. And we’ll nourish your body with fresh, home-cooked, nutritionally balanced meals lovingly prepared by the Watermill cooks, with many of the ingredients freshly picked from The Watermill’s own gardens. There will be vegetarian options for every meal, of course. Private sessions with a local Shiatsu practitioner are also available, at cost, on request.
yoga Claire croppedYoga, meditation and massage have been a way of life for Claire Murphy for more than 25 years and she’s passionate about teaching them.

Together we’ve created a unique seven-day programme. You can see the itinerary by clicking here.

Claire has a wealth of teaching experience in both yoga and meditation, primarily focused on women’s health. Claire currently teaches classes for women through all stages of their life and has even run sessions for women in recovery from cancer.
Her approach is very much from a remedial perspective in which she sees yoga being available to everybody. In addition to her yoga capabilities, Claire has studied Yoga portrait shape 3meditation within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for many years as well as being a qualified mindfulness for stress relief teacher. It’s this presence and focus that she brings to all her teachings and infuses all her sessions with mindful awareness. Claire’s style of teaching is very eclectic, borne out of studying and training in various traditions over the years across the UK and in many other areas of Europe and extensively in the USA. She brings a sense of humour and imagination to her teaching in order to make it accessible to everyone.

The sessions at The Watermill will be friendly and welcoming and no prior experience of yoga or meditation is necessary: all levels from beginner to intermediate will be catered for and we’ll also tailor our sessions to your particular needs. The classes are secular (non-denominational).

Claire Murphy head and shoulders 2Yoga portrait shape 39 -16 September Nourish — mind, body and soul 

with Claire Murphy Four or five places left

To learn more about Claire and her retreat at The Watermill, please click here

Come and join us and nourish your mind, body and soul.


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