December 21, 2020 4 min read
Have you ever been sitting in meditation when the instructor guides you to place your hands on your knees, the index finger and thumb gently touching? Did you wonder if this hand gesture had any real importance on the profoundness of your yoga practice? As it turns out, it does!
You were practicing a mudra—a sacred hand gesture and a powerful tool to transform consciousness.
In Sanskrit, the word ‘mudra’ means ‘seal.’ To understand the power of mudras, it’s essential to know this ancient tradition believes parts of the hand and fingers connect to various body areas. By practicing different mudras, we guide the flow of energy for healing and harmony within the body and mind.
According to Ayurveda, mudras also relate to tattvas, the five elements that make up reality. Each tattva—earth, air, fire, water, and space—is also connected to a different finger. By practicing Mudras, we can create harmony between these five tattvas and bring balance to our lives. Not all mudras are performed with the hands, but these are the ones we will focus on today.
While the energetic changes stimulated by mudras might seem subtle at first, you’ll likely experience complex physical, mental, and spiritual changes with continued practice. Once mudras become a consistent part of your yoga practice, you might even find yourself calling upon them for mental clarity, calmness, and energy during specific situations!
Let’s dive into the benefits of 8 different mudras you can start practicing right now. Practice these mudras for at least two minutes to feel the benefits.
10 Powerful Mudras To Practice Right Now
1. Gyan Mudra
Let’s start with the mudra we mentioned in the opening. The Gyan Mudra is perhaps the most familiar to yoga students, often used in meditation. That’s because it can invoke deep calmness and improve concentration, creativity, and insight.
How To Practice The Gyan Mudra
With your palms facing up, lightly join the thumb and index fingers together. Keep the middle, ring, and pinky fingers straight and connected.
2. Yoni Mudra
Are you feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Try the Yoni Mudra, the mudra meaning divine feminine energy and the womb. This hand gesture strengthens the nervous system and calms the mind to help with alleviating anxiety. Just as a baby in the womb has no contact with the outside world, so too can this mudra invoke a state of tranquility—far removed from external chaos.
How To Practice The Yoni Mudra
Place your palms together. Point the thumb towards the sky. Turn your middle, ring, and pinky fingers inwards (so the back of the fingers touch one another.) Then, rotate your index fingers, so they face downward. Bring your thumbs to touch your navel.
3. Vayu Mudra
The Vayu Mudra is related to the air element and can help alleviate any cases of air imbalances in the body. This mudra is especially helpful if you’re feeling a little bloated or gassy and aids in healthy digestion and relieving joint pain.
How To Practice The Vayu Mudra
Bend your index fingers on both hands down toward your palm. Gently press your thumbs into the knuckles of your index fingers. Keep the middle, ring, and pinky fingers straight.
4. Surya Mudra
Stimulate your internal fire when you practice the Surya Mudra. Said to represent vitality and well-being, this mudra can improve metabolism and immunity while stimulating weight loss. That’s because the Surya Mudra has a positive impact on regulating the thyroid gland and, in extension, your heart health.
How To Practice The Surya Mudra
Bend your ring fingers on both hands down toward your palm. Gently press your thumbs into the knuckles of your ring fingers. Keep the middle, ring, and pinky fingers straight.
5. Dhyana Mudra
The Dhyana Mudra is another of the most commonly practiced mudras. In this sacred hand gesture, the right hand represents enlightenment, while the left hand represents the illusion of being. The Dhyana Mudra is believed to bring total balance while quieting the mind.
Dhyana is also the seventh of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, a state in which we have separated ourselves from the state of meditation. As such, this mudra is a powerful technique to move deeper into meditation and transcendence.
How To Practice The Dhyana Mudra
Place both hands in your lap with the palms facing up, your left hand beneath the right. Lift and join the tips of the thumbs to create a circle.
6. Prana Mudra
When in doubt, practice this mudra, the “cure-all” of the sacred hand gestures. That’s because prana is the vital life force that flows through us and connects us to all other living things. This mudra stimulates dormant energy and increases vitality. It also improves visibility—both your eyesight and your life vision. Use the Prana Mudra for everything from a quick energy boost to a tool for deep inner reflection.
How To Practice The Prana Mudra
Touch the tip of your thumbs with the end of your ring and pinky fingers. Straighten your index and middle finger.
7. Abhaya Mudra
The first hand gesture the Buddha used upon reaching enlightenment, the Abhaya Mudra meaning is a display of divine protection and fearlessness. Use it for a sense of safety and security, as well as to gain confidence and courage.
How To Practice The Abhaya Mudra
With a bent arm, raise your right hand to shoulder height. Palm faces out with all fingers touching.
8. Anjali Mudra
Last but certainly not least (there are 399 hand mudras!) is the Anjali Mudra. Commonly associated with ‘Namaste,’ the Anjali Mudra is more than a greeting alone. Said to unite the right and left hemispheres of the brain, this mudra can bring peace, clarity, and unification of the mind, soul, and body as we unite the hands with our energetic heart center. The Anjali Mudra is at the heart of the practice of yoga and serves as an offering of love, devotion, and respect to ourselves and others.
How To Practice The Anjali Mudra
Gently draw your hands together at the center of your chest with the fingers pointing up.
Try these mudras regularly and take note of the energetic shifts you feel within your body. Note that these mudras are accessible to you at any place, at any time!
Want to learn more about mudras and yoga in general? Our online and in person yoga teacher trainings cover everything from mudras and asanas to sutras and sequencing!
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