The following is a post by Narayani Maharaj an Instructor, Performer, and Director of  the Belly Motions Bollywood Program.

Narayani Maharaj - Hamsasya Mudra

Being shy, and a person of few words, I always found it difficult to communicate. Through the art of dancing I have found the ability to express myself in a way that has surpassed the barriers of spoken language. I have realized that I can share my feelings and emotions through dance…Indian dance that is, and story telling. Storytelling? Yes! The beautiful and expressive hand gestures, known as mudras, are the tools I use in my dancing that allow me to speak louder than words!

As a child, what I admired most about Indian Dance were those beautiful hand gestures. To me, the mudras were a new fascinating language that I couldn’t wait to learn!  Today, I love using mudras while I perform not only because they embellish my movements, but also because they merge my love for acting and dancing together! They are so versatile and helpful; I have the ability to tell a wonderful story to my audience with a simple finger illustration! Mudras combined with facial expressions, are the life and breath of Indian dance.

I find it fascinating the way a simple, yet strong hand gesture can convey and give rise to an emotion. In fact, from the ancient Indian scripture on dance known as the Natya Sastra, there is a beautiful verse about the significance of mudras:

Narayani Maharaj -katakamukha and Alapadma Mudra

“Where the hand is, the eyes follow”

“Where the eyes go, the mind follows”

“Where the mind is, there is expression”

“Where there is expression, there is emotion”







Chin Mudra (Used in meditation)

Mudras are used in more than just dancing alone. There are various types of mudras used in connection with Eastern spirituality, specifically in Buddhism and Hinduism. Mudras are also used in yoga and Deity worship as well. It has even been said that some mudras have the power to heal!

One of the most familiar mudras -“Chin” Mudra, is used in meditation. While sitting with the legs crossed, the tips of the thumb and index finger of each hand form a “zero” with the last three fingers extended, palms facing up and resting on the knees.   

Mudras, whether used in dancing or spirituality, are a unique and powerful form of communication and expression.  In my eyes, they are magical!

Would you like to learn more about mudras?  Join me for my Bollywood Technique class and explore the wonderful world of storytelling!