Meaning Behind The Mudra: Jala Mudra to Flow Like Water

For thousands of years, yogis have understood how deeply connected we are to the elements of nature, and that in fact we are nature itself. Each of us is made of the qualities of earth, water, fire, air and ether (or ‘space’) in differing amounts. Some people may be described as ‘earthy’ and others more ‘fiery’, whilst you may hold more qualities of water, and you probably know what it feels like to be ‘spaced out’. Living so close to nature, ancient yogis developed practices that helped them understand the world around them, and experimented with the different elements within them. Pranayama practices like Agni Sara or ‘breath of fire’, enhanced the quality of fire, whilst practicing Prithvi Mudra brought about more earthiness and a sense of being grounded. In the modern world, it’s easy to become a little disconnected from nature, so bringing an elemental mudra like Jala mudra into your daily practice is a wonderful way to remind yourself just how much a part of nature you really are.

Adapting And Flowing

Jala mudra invokes the element of water and all the qualities associated with it, such as fluidity, clarity, ease, movement, and adaptability, and is perhaps one of the most useful mudras to practice in times of unpredictability when we’re asked to adapt. Life requires us to adapt at all times; our bodies have to adapt to small changes like the weather, the foods we consume and the exercise we do, and our minds have to adapt daily to what we learn, to other people’s needs, and problems that need solving. On a slightly larger scale, we have to adapt when life hands us a significant lesson, when the metaphorical ‘rug’ is pulled from underneath our feet, when we don’t know what tomorrow might bring, or when we’re faced with venturing down a different life path than the one we had planned. Indeed, just like water, we need to be able to flow, to have clarity, to adapt, to find ease in difficult times. Mudras are the symbolic hand gestures that serve as tools for deepening intentions, for enhancing practices, and as reminders that our health and wellbeing really is in our own hands.

Water Within Us

Connecting to the element of water allows us to connect with an element that makes up not just a large percentage of our body – 70%! – but an element that also makes up 71% of the planet. Water surrounds us and is within us, and after experimenting with directing different emotions, words and actions at water, an author and scientist named Dr. Emoto found that water changes state according to our thoughts, words and actions. In experiments published in his book Messages In Water in 1991, water exposed to words like ‘love’ was then frozen, and under a microscope, researchers saw that the frozen water crystals had formed beautiful geometric patterns. The water exposed to anger and phrases like ‘I hate you’ thus formed distorted and inharmonious shapes. The experiments were repeated with different types of music, with thoughts, and when placed in different locations. Water holds memory – and if the water crystal experiments are anything to go by, many of us are perhaps holding on to thoughts, words and actions that have impacted the water element within us, changing its state and therefore changing how we feel. US – based Mama Medicine who leads medicine readings and creates Ritual Baths in New York has also recently noted in interviews that if water holds memory, then it figures that the planet’s water element is also holding on to the thoughts, words and actions of the humans upon it….

By connecting to the water element, we can let it be our teacher. Observe how water flows, how it adapts and finds its way around twists and turns. Notice how water supports life, how it transforms and changes as it needs. Could water teach us to ‘go with the flow’ a little more? Could water teach us to support others? Could water teach us to let go of the things that are currently blocking us from flowing and moving freely through life? Could water teach us to adapt? By practicing Jala mudra, we can also use it to enhance our awareness of the power of thoughts, words and deeds, knowing that they all have an impact on the water within and around us.

jala-mudra-water-mudraPractice Jala Mudra

  • To practice Jala mudra, bring the tip of your thumb and tip of your little finger together.
  • Close your eyes and visualise clear, cool water flowing steadily along a deep and life-supporting river.
  • Repeat the affirmation ‘I flow like water, I am clear, I am at ease’.

Emma is a 500hr qualified Yoga teacher, musician, massage therapist, cook, and writer. Having grown up surrounded by Yoga and meditation, Emma began her practice at a young age and has continued to study and develop her understanding of Yoga on a daily basis. Training internationally with inspirational teachers, Emma’s passions now lie primarily in philosophy and Yoga off the mat. Emma currently teaches regularly in Sussex, co-leading teacher trainings, retreats, workshops and kirtans, and also manages the Brighton Yoga Festival.

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