Inner PeaceMassage & Mudras

The Mudra Wheel

The Mudra Wheel is designed to help you decide what you want. It organizes the mudras into six categories:

 Reframe thoughts
 Refresh mind

These designations are not written in stone, they are simply there to help you decide what mudras to try based on what you decide you need. You may find a mudra in one group that helps you in another category.

As you begin to use mudras you may find you need to combine mudras from several groups to get where you want to be. For example if you want to get to a new calm place, you need to take out the emotional clutter (release feelings), open the window and in let fresh air (relax) and invite new emotional friends to join you (restore).

The mudra wheel is illustrated below. Below the wheel, I define each category and what it does. The mudra wheel emerged from my experience as a massage therapist, so I will present it as it developed.

The Mudra Wheel


Mudras in the Release group help you let go of strong feelings. They are active, intentional. They are the yang force.

Sometimes someone is so full of an emotion that they feel almost paralyzed by it. A loss can be so overwhelming that you can’t feel anything except that there is this hole in you. Or depression is so strong that you feel as if you are stuck in molasses. Over time I learned that I could help people through the stuck place to where they could move again. Here are some situations where release through massage has helped.

  • A member of a group I was associated with died. This almost paralyzed the group. I offered to spend a day and help people who came deal with their grief. A member of the group came up to me later and said, “I thought that it was a bunch of hooie that massage could help grieving people, but I was wrong.”

  • I once had a new mother who was suffering from depression tell me that after one session she felt like a completely different person than the one who had walked into my office. She felt like her old self again. She added that she felt like I had “taken an evil spirit out of her.”

  • I met a woman at a conference who had just quit a job that she held for over a decade. She was consumed with grief. I worked with her once at the beginning of the week-long conference. At the end, she said that the whole week played out differently because she felt so much better after I had worked on her.

It’s not that grief and other feelings are bad and we don’t want to feel them. However, sometimes we get so stuck in one feeling that we can’t feel anything else.

My question was, how could I help people learn to release their overwhelming feelings themselves, so they don’t have to keep coming back to me. I looked for movements that would help get feelings out. These mudras are:

  • Release irritation
  • Remove intense feelings
  • Tension busters
  • Self calming


The Relax mudras help you detach from concerns, and allow a sense of calm and peace to enter. It is like a lake without waves. They are passive, receptive. They are the yin force.

Some people are so tied up in knots that you have to work on the knots first (release). Once they have released, you then look for ways to introduce relaxation. One way I have found to help people relax is to ask them to take deep breaths.

Often, the first breaths clients take are very fast and shallow. I ask them to deepen the breath, and slow it down. Then, their tense muscles start to relax. By changing their way of breathing, they are changing much more than that. When we breathe deeper, more oxygen gets to our brain. Our body becomes less rigid.

For example, I once worked on a man who said that he used to drink over a dozen cups of coffee a day. He had needed to be hospitalized before he started to give coffee up. This person was a mass of knots. He was wired. I first worked on the knots and then asked him to breathe deeply. By changing the way he breathed, he helped release his knots, and opened himself to relax and receive a sense of peace and well being.

Four mudras that I find help people relax are:


Restore mudras intentionally bring in new feelings. People often choose to invite feelings of love, comfort, happiness and contentment.

You have little awareness of soft and gentle feelings when your muscles are constricted and tense. When a person has released the heavy feelings and relaxed muscles, you can help bring in light, gentle energy and feelings. It’s not enough to get feelings out, for something will fill the space. When people start experiencing unfamiliar gentle feelings they often say, “I never knew what comfort actually meant. I don’t remember ever being comforted before. The word had no meaning for me.”

There are several unfamiliar feelings that people might wish to bring in — feelings of comfort, contentment, happiness and love. When people release old, long-held, demanding feelings, they can develop a certain lightness of being that they haven’t previously felt. They feel like something has been restored to them.

Four mudras for restoring gentle feelings are:

  • Comfort
  • Happiness
  • Contentment
  • Love


Recharge mudras bring in energy. They banish discouragement and depression.

Sometimes our batteries run dry. We are “underfunded.” We have a hard time keeping on moving. Maybe we’re ill, or suffering a loss. Maybe our self-esteem is at a low ebb, or we just have too much to do. You can charge people up who have a chronic or life threatening illness. You can energize someone who has felt depressed or not up to dealing with a challenge. It can feel to the person like they have just been plugged into a wall socket.

I experienced this myself recently when I caught pneumonia. A fellow body worker came over and massaged my feet. I had been careful to not climb our stairs too often because it was tiring, and now I felt like dancing. I was truly energized. Good body work can do that. But it’s better if you can charge your own batteries.

Four mudras that help you recharge are:

  • Energy
  • Cheerfulness
  • Self-confidence
  • Replenish

Re-frame (thought)

Re-frame mudras help people change their view of the world and how it operates.

It can be hard to separate thinking from feeling. If you change how you think about something, that will also affect how you feel. So I’ve included some mudras that relate to your thought patterns. We can get really stuck in thinking about something a certain way. With mudras, you can distance yourself from previous thought patterns as in overcoming obstacles. The obstacles you are brushing away from yourself are ways that you have been habitually thinking.

Let’s use prosperity as another example. To me, prosperity is not about having and holding on. In order to experience abundance, we need to allow ourselves to receive and then let go, receive and then let go. If we are busy hanging on, there is no room for more. I have chosen four mudras which I believe affect our perception of our situation, so we’re not so blocked in by our own thinking.

Four mudras to re-frame thought are:

Refresh Mind

The refresh mudras help the mind function. They either sharpen or quiet the mind.

The mind works better when it is quiet. A quiet mind is a creative, retentive mind. Some of us reach for coffee or tea when our minds no longer seem very sharp. That’s one way. However, there are mudras that can help us quiet our minds, clear our minds or focus our minds. Below are two examples.

  • A physician friend was facing a state board re-certification. He said he had severe test anxiety. Every time he sat down to study, he couldn’t settle into it because of his anxious feelings. I showed him a couple of mudras that are known to affect the mind. One of them he took to like a duck to water. He said, “When I do that mudra, all my anxious thoughts rush out and away from me. I feel so steady that I can study. By the day of the exam I felt so steady and confident that I didn’t need to do the mudra in order to feel that way!”

  • I have a young student friend who, when I showed her the clarity mudra, said, “Oh, I already do that when I’m studying for tests. I just learned it on my own”

Four mudras to refresh your mind are:


I hope these six categories of mudras help you choose one or more. When I first discovered mudras, I found it hard to zero in on where to start. There was too much information. I couldn’t decide what would truly help me the most. That’s why I developed a way of thinking about how mudras might help. Once you decide what your greatest need is, you can start experimenting with mudras that might help you.

My greatest need was to be able to relax and not be so reactive in different situations. I do say, start with the mudra that is easiest for you, either to do or feel a connection with. In the case of patience, I listened to my friends who consistently said, “Emily, patience is the mudra for you.” It was actually very difficult to do at first. But I got better at it and I loved the results. I can wait better. I really can — even for food. I can endure setbacks. I can stay quiet when that’s really the best thing to do.

I also hope my stories help you see how mudras might help you. My intention is to help others find a way to the practice and cultivation of mudras ultimately to improve their relationship with themselves. Peace starts with individuals. That is my belief.

Last updated March 28, 2018