We all express different emotions with our hand movements and gestures — shaking hands with a new person, crossing our fingers to express a wish, clapping in praise, and "giving someone the finger" as a sign of our anger or dismay. According to Gertrud Hirschi, a well-known Swiss yoga teacher, such hand positions — mudras — have been used in India for mystical and healing purposes. They are evident in Indian dances, Hatha Yoga, and Tantric rituals.

In this handy guidebook, Hirschi suggests mudras that can be used for recharging energy reserves, coming to terms with the past, improving relationships, solving everyday problems, building character, planning for the future, and connecting with the Divine. She believes that these "finger power points" can be most fruitfully practiced in conjunction with breathing exercises, visualizations, and affirmations, and she provides suggestions designed especially for each of them. Mudras can be done while walking or when you are lying down or seated. Hirschi advises that each mudra be practiced for three to thirty minutes, two or four times a day for maximum benefit.

I especially like (51) Naga Mudra where the hands are crossed in front of the chest with the thumbs laid over each other. This gesture is sometimes called "the mudra of deeper insight." Another is (43) the Dhyani Mudra where both hands are placed like bowls in the lap. The left hand lies in the right hand and the thumbs touch each other. This one is called the gesture of meditation, of contemplation.