The Sanskrit word Mudra is translated as “gesture” or “attitude”. Mudra is also defined as a “seal”. Mudras direct the flow of energy in the subtle body, guiding it to specific areas of the brain. There are numerous kinds of Mudras. Each is thought to have a specific effect on the body and the mind: altering our mood and perception, and deepening awareness and concentration.
1. Hasta (Hand Mudras)
2. Mana (Head Mudras)
3. Kaya (Postal Mudras)
4. Bandha (Lock Mudras)
5. Adhara (Perineal Mudras)
A Mudra may involve the whole body, but the most common are hand (hasta) Mudras. Usually, these Mudras are performed alongside pranayama, in seated meditation poses like padmasana (lotus pose). The following Mudras are Hand Mudras which should not be confused with the more advanced Mudras described in texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
The meaning of the Sanskrit word Anjali is “to salute” or “Divine offering”. This Mudra is also known as Pranam or Namaste Mudra.
Yogis perform this Mudra at the opening and closure of almost every yoga class: while chanting a mantra, setting an intention, or during meditation. We can also apply this gesture to many asanas – such as Warrior I, Tree, or Mountain Pose – instead of keeping our hands separate. This can serve as a reminder to keep a peaceful, humble attitude throughout our practice.
To perform Anjali Mudra, join your hands in prayer position in front of your chest. This represents the balance and harmony between the right and left sides reunited in our center.
From Anjali Mudra, spread your index finger, middle, and ring finger. The palms, thumbs, and pinky fingers touch. Visualize a lotus flower blooming.
Padma Mudra, which is translated as Lotus Mudra, opens the heart center. By activating this center, Lotus Mudra opens the yogi to love and compassion, guiding us towards a more loving version of ourselves.
To perform Gyan Mudra, bring the tips of the thumb and index fingers together and form a circle. The remaining fingers are stretched and the palm is facing upward. The hands have many nerve endings, which constantly emit energy. When the thumb and index finger touch, a circuit is closed which allows the energy to travel back into the body, energizing the brain.
Gyan Mudra represents the union of the Self with the universe. It is also called Chin Mudra, which can be translated as “seal of consciousness”. Thus, this mudra is often used during meditation as it helps the practitioner focus on attaining true enlightenment.
For Dhyana Mudra, both hands are placed on the lap, palms facing up. The right hand, which symbolizes awareness and wisdom, is placed on top of the left, which symbolizes the illusion of existence.
This gesture represents the state of complete balance that the practitioner can achieve through meditation, untouched by the external world. Thus, it is also called Samadhi Mudra. Samadhi is the last stage of the Eight Limbs of Yoga and can be translated as “enlightenment, liberation, or self-realization”.
In Buddhism, this mudra is displayed with the tips of the thumbs touching. This triangle shape represents the three jewels of Buddhism: Buddha (the One who attains Enlightenment), Sangha (Community), and Dharma (Teachings).
This mudra is named after the Hindu god Ganesh, who is considered the remover of obstacles. Thus, practicing Ganesha Mudra is thought to increase self-confidence and the courage to overcome obstacles in one’s path.
To perform Ganesha Mudra, place your left hand in front of the chest, palm out, and grasp it with your right hand. The hands stay at the level of the heart as they are energetically pulled apart without releasing the grip. On a physical level, this strengthens the muscles of the arms, chest, and shoulders.
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