Mudra is a Sanskrit word meaning a symbolic hand gesture that has the power of producing joy and happiness. Regular practice of mudras not only contributes to one’s overall good health but can be used as a preventive measure, as well. Our hands define our karma and our fingers are our power points. This makes them a link between individual Prana force and universal energy.
The position of our hands has the ability to influence the energy of our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. Mudras help to link the brain to the body, affect pain, change our mood, and increase our energy.
Though their effects can be substantial, mudras are simply rituals forming symbolic gestures. Mudras are also a form of yoga which is done while practicing pranayama and are a form of meditation which allows direct flow of energy into our body. Practicing yoga mudras mediates our mind and helps us to heal emotionally. Mudra uses techniques which stimulate the different parts of our brain promoting relaxation and calmness. Mudras are used to express and emphasize the intentions of our mind.
There are many types of mudras in yoga and each of them has different benefits. Over the next few weeks we will be covering several mudras highlighting their unique qualities and how to perform them.
The different forms of mudra yoga poses symbolize particular energies or qualities and each finger used in creating each mudras represents an element. The thumb is Fire, pointer finger is Air, middle finger is Space, ring finger is Earth and the pinkie is Water.
Here are some of the performing steps and health benefits of yoga mudras and their respective meanings.
1. Chin Mudra – Gesture of Conscience:
Steps to perform the Chin Mudra:
- First, join the tip of the thumb and the forefinger to form a circle.
- Leave the other fingers joined and extended outwards, with the middle finger remains unfolded on the forefinger.
- This yoga mudra asana should be performed with both hands and the palms facing upwards.
- Chin mudra should be done for approximately 10-15 minutes.
Chin Mudra Benefits:This yoga mudra chin represents the union between us and the divine, and it increases our grasping power and sharpens our memory, relieves insomnia and excessive sleep, and gives us relaxation from tensions and anger.
Gyan Mudra: This same mudra, when performed with the palm facing downward, is known as Gyan Mudra (Gesture of Knowledge).
The next two Mudras we’ll be covering in our series are the Apana and Agni poses.
2. Apana Mudra – Gesture of The Vital Air or the Mudra Of Digestion:
Steps to perform the Apana Mudra:
- The tip of the thumb should be joined first with the tip of the middle and ring fingers keeping the other fingers straight.
- This yoga mudra should be executed with both hands.
Apana Mudra Benefits:
Apana means air that runs in our body. This mudra energizes and helps in governing all forms of elimination and reproduction of our body.
3. Agni Mudra or Surya Mudra – Gesture of The Fire:
Steps to perform the Agni Mudra:
- First, bend your ring finger so that you can touch the base of the thumb and press it with the thumb on the second phalanx keeping the other fingers straight.
- This mudra should be performed with both hands and palms facing in an upward direction.
Yoga Agni Mudra Benefits: This Mudra symbolizes our inner fire which works great in preventing and curing many digestive disorders. This is an effective yoga mudra for weight loss. It also helps to reduce excess body fat and lowers our laziness quotient. It is beneficial for diabetics and people with cholesterol too. Remember, Mudras are hand poses that aid in the above specified areas when performed during meditation or yoga for minutes not mere seconds.
The next two Mudras in our series are Vayu and the Akash poses:
4. Vayu Mudra – Gesture of The Air:
Steps for Vayu Mudra:
- First, bend your index finger at the base of the thumb and press with your thumb on the second phalanx, keeping the other fingers straight.
- This mudra should be performed with both hands and the palms facing in an upward direction.
Vayu Mudra Benefits:
This mudra balances the air element within the body. It helps in the release of extra gas and treats imbalance of air disease.
5. Akash Mudra – Gesture Of The Space:
Steps for Akash Mudra:
- First, join the tip of the thumb and the middle finger to form a circle, keeping the other fingers straight.
- It has to be executed with both hands and the palms facing upward.
Akash Mudra Benefits:
This mudra balances our space element in the body. It helps our body in achieving the other energies inside our body.
The next two Mudras in our series are Prithvi and Jai.
6. Prithvi Mudra – Gesture Of The Earth:
Steps for Prithvi Mudra:
- Just join the tip of the thumb and the ring finger as to form a circle, keeping the other fingers straight.
- It is the same as Agni Mudra but the only difference here is to form the circle.
- This yoga hand mudra or hasta mudra yoga should be executed with both hands and the palms facing upward.
Prithvi Mudra Benefits:
This Mudra helps in balancing the Earth element within the body. It also re-charges the root chakra aligning it with the earth energies. This mudra creates immense energy in our body. It centralizes our soul energy which makes us more powerful. People losing energy at a faster rate or the person who feels dizzy all the time should practice this mudra daily for five minutes.
7. Jal Mudra – Gesture of The Water:
Steps for Jal Mudra:
- First, join the tip of the thumb and little finger as to form a circle keeping the other fingers straight.
- It has to be executed with both hands and the palms facing upward.
Jal Mudra Benefits:
Jal mudra balances the water element in our body. It restores the fluid balance treating the dryness (dry skin, dry mouth, and dry eyes) and other disorders of kidneys and bladder.
The next two Mudras in our series are Vyana and Dhyana.
8. Vyana Mudra – Gesture of Outward Flow:
Steps for Vyana: - Join the tips of your thumb and index finger.
- Touch the tip of the middle finger to the middle line of your thumb.
- Now extend your ring and little finger upward.
- Seated in a comfortable position, form the mudra with each hand and place your hands in your lap palms up.
- Lengthen through your spine, relax your shoulders and abdomen, allowing yourself to breathe naturally.
- Your meditation here should start with 5 minutes and allow yourself to build up to 45 min. Namaste.
Vyana Mudra Benefits:
It regulates blood pressure, purifies the blood, decreases restlessness and insomnia, reduces redness and burning of the eyes.
9. Dhyana Mudra - Gesture of Absorption or Contemplation:
Steps for Dhyana:
- Your mudra is accomplished by placing your left hand in your lap with your palm up.
- Rest the back of the right hand into the palm of your left.
- Lightly touch the tips of your thumbs together in the shape of a hollow sphere.
- In a seated position place the mudra lightly in your lap.
- Keep the pressure between the thumbs very gentle as if holding a feather.
- Relax your shoulders and let your elbows find their natural position.
- Release any attempt to control your breath, simply sit still doing nothing at all.
- Hold this pose as long as you can, working up to 20 min a day.
- Committed mediation practitioners will avg 1-2 hours a day as a routine.
Dhyana Mudra Benefits:
It facilitates natural diaphragmatic breathing, aids efficient digestion and assimilation of nutrients, helps the earnest spiritual seeker to embody their original nature by releasing striving and attachment. This gesture gives tangible expression to what can't be explained.