As a yoga practitioner, you’re very familiar with yoga poses, or asanas – but have you tried yoga mudras? Yoga mudras are, in essence, poses and positions for the hands that can bring specific healing effects. Mudras arose from the Tattva Mudra Vigyan branch of yoga, a lesser known, more subtle school of this ancient art.
It’s All About Energy and Flow
Every part of your body is infused with divine power and life force energy, but the hands have a special intensity. They allow us to reach out and make contact with the world, touch the ground during yoga asanas, and make contact with others. An awareness of yoga mudras can greatly enhance both a yoga practice and your life in general.
Hand mudras involve positioning the fingers in specific ways to build strength and work with divine energy. Old drawings and paintings of yogis practicing mudras often show their hands contorted in specific gestures; these are mudras, and they can range quite a bit in both intent and complexity. They can be one-handed or two-handed, involve many fingers or none, and each movement is directed toward a specific purpose related to energy flow within the body.
Mudras Signify Devotion, Enhance Prana
The word “mudra” is linked with the phrase “to delight.” In a symbolic and energetic sense, mudras are a way that practitioners can signal their intent, devotion and commitment to yoga. Mudras and yoga breathing enhance the flow of prana and result in more balance and health in the body's organs, glands, tendons, veins and systems. Some say the practice of mudras can even unleash hands-on healing abilities and kundalini awakening.
The following are some example mudras to help get you started in this ancient art and enhance your yoga practice. While performing each mudra, take twelve breaths (or more), inhaling and exhaling mindfully. You can also incorporate them into yoga asanas. Observe the flow of your breath as well as the prana throughout your body. You should notice prana gradually energizing the mind and body.
1. Chin Mudra (Gyana Mudra)
Gyana Mudra, or chin mudra, is the most widely used hand mudra in yoga. It symbolizes a unity of both individual and universal consciousness, fire and air. To perform it, bring the tips of the index finger and thumb together while keeping the other three fingers relaxed but together, lightly stretched.
This mudra helps to increase creativity, focus and knowledge. Turning your palms upwards while performing this mudra allows you to be more receptive, while facing your hands downward toward on your legs helps you to become more grounded.
2. Anjali Mudra
Bring your hands together by your heart, palms touching. This mudra expresses love and gratitude and is a gesture of respect and honor for yourself and the entire Universe.
3. Prana Mudra
Hold the thumb, ring finger, and pinky finger together to activate dormant energy and prana within your body. You will rapidly feel stronger and more energized.
4. Shuni Mudra
If you feel you need more discipline, patience, strength and balance, this mudra can help. Bring the thumb and middle finger together for a synchronization of the fire element with connection and harmony.
5. Surya Ravi Mudra
Unite the elements of earth and fire with this mudra. Perform it by touching the thumb to the ring finger while inviting more positive changes into your life. You should immediately feel more vitality and life force energy
6. Buddhi Mudra
This mudra can help you to open and strengthen your intuition through connecting the water and fire elements. Touch your thumb and pinky finger together to become more aware of higher dimensional wisdom.
7. Dhyana Mudra
This mudra is ideal when a calming effect is desired. Place hands together on the lap with palms facing up, left hand under the right, tips of your thumbs touching. Hold while in meditation or contemplation and enjoy a deeper, more relaxed feeling.
Practicing mudras can add a whole new dimension to your yoga practice. Everyone’s experience of mudras is different and individual, so it’s up to you to see what they have in store. Practice these seven foundational mudras to get started and find out what’s possible. You just might take your yoga practice to new places.