The main reason we use mudras is that the mind follows the breath and the body. So if we are focused on our breath and place our hands in a position of calm and stillness – the mind will mirror the same qualities. If you practice yoga you probably use mudras even without knowing it. When you place your hands in prayer at the beginning or end of class or in a mountain pose, sun salutation or tree pose, you are actually doing a mudra. This “hands in prayer mudra” is called Anjali Mudra (read more below).
Just to explain it without getting too nerdy about it; a mudra is a specific position of the fingers that influence the energies of the body and your mood. They can help you to focus the mind and find balance and flow in the five elements that exists within the body (space, air, fire, water and earth) and move them in the proper direction in order to fulfill a specific purpose. Each area of the hand has a reflex reaction in a specific part of the brain. A mudra locks and guides energy flow and reflexes to the brain. Together with the bhandas (the body locks), mudras redirect the energy flow, and link the prana energy with universal force. They are used as a spiritual practice, as a way on the path to enlightenment. Mudras have been in use in the East for thousands of years, particularly in Buddhism. Buddha statues often have the hands in certain hand positions. According to yogic scriptures, each finger represents the energy of a planet, a determinate quality, and emotions. The thumb represents consciousness. The index finger represents ego, knowledge and expansion. The middle finger represents patience and the law of karma. The ring finger represents strength and intuition. And the pinky finger represents quickness and the power of communication.
Namaste – Anjali Mudra Hand position: Place your hands in prayer in front of your heart center.Anjali means offering and this mudra is often followed by the word Namaste which means The light within me bows to the light within you. This salutation is at the essence of the yogic practice of seeing the Divine within all of creation.
Concentration – Gyan Mudra Hand position: The tips of the thumb and index finger touch, other fingers are straight but relaxed. The word gyan means wisdom in Sanskrit, and this mudra is believed to help instill wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. One of the main benefits of the Gyan Mudra is its ability to calm and relax the body and focus the mind to the task of meditation. It also helps to improve concentration, relieve stress and transcend worldly problems.
Patience – Shuni Mudra Hand position: The tips of the middle finger and thumb touch. All other fingers pointing up to the sky. Helps you being more aware of the present moment, and thereby makes you more patient. The middle finger represents patience, so if someone gives you the finger, just think about that all they are doing is showing you the patience finger. This is a mudra that helps you to be courageous and responsible.
Strength – Surya Ravi Mudra Hand position: The tips of the ring finger and thumb touch. This helps you with strength, intuition and change. The ring finger represents energy, health and sexuality.
Communication – Buddhi Mudra Hand position: The tips of the pinky and thumb touch. This mudra helps you to find the power of communication and the pinky finger is associated with quickness.
Meditation – Dhyana Mudra Hand position: The hands form a bowl shape in your lap, the right palm on top and the left on the bottom and the thumps touching. This mudra helps to find a sense of calm and concentration. Often used in Buddhist meditations.
Intuition – Hakini Mudra Hand position: Let the tips of the corresponding fingers of each hand touch. Palms are facing each other but not touching.This mudra helps to concentrate and improves memory and boost thinking. It is connected to the Third Eye Chakra, where your imagination and intuition are located.
Energy – Prana Mudra Hand position: The tips of the pinky and ring finger touch with the tip of the thumb. The other fingers should be straight. This mudra helps in pumping the life force and energy into your body, it makes you feel energized when you are fatigued or depressed. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and is good for the eyes.
Stability – Prithvi Mudra Hand position: The tip of the ring finger and thumb touch. The other fingers should be straight.This mudra increases energy, and fosters a sense of inner stability and self-assurance. It helps to balance the different elements inside of the body. The Prithvi Mudra also helps to strengthen the body and alleviates fatigue. Practicing this Mudra also helps to boost self-confidence and belief in the self.
Relaxation – Vayu Mudra Hand position: Press the tip of the index finger onto the mound of your thumb. The other fingers should be straight. This mudra helps if you are feeling anxious and restless. It helps to calm you down if you feel over excited. The Vayu Mudra will calm down your nervous system so you can feel relaxation. Vayu means air and this mudra helps to regulate the element of air inside the body.
Lift Your Spirit – Ganesha Mudra Hand position: Bring both hands in front of your chest with your elbows bent out to the sides. Put the left hand with the palm facing outwards so your thumb points towards your solar plexus and your little finger points towards your collar bone. Form a claw by bending the four fingers of your left hand and clasp them with the four fingers of your right hand. In this position, your right palm should be facing towards your chest. Inhale deeply and exhale six times. Interchange your hands and take six deep breaths here.This mudra helps you lift your spirits and give you the will to persevere when you are feeling down. It also helps to release any pent up tension from the shoulders and chest. Ganesha, the elephant god, is one of the most popular deities of Hindu mythology. He is the remover of all obstacles from your path.
Acceptance Mudra Hand position: The index finger is folded into the space between thumb and this finger, so that the nail touches the fold. The outer lower corner of the thumb’s nail touches the inner lower corner of the pinky finger’s nail. The other fingers should be straight.This mudra helps to overcome sadness or an unnecessary resistance to situations, it can help to get into a mood of acceptance.