Have you ever been in a yoga class and seen the instructor or other people put their hands in weird positions and wondered what they mean or more importantly, whether you should do the same? Why are Mudras important in yoga? We have often wondered the same so we decided to look into it further. These hand gestures are called hand Mudras and below we give a brief explanation and meaning of the different Mudras and why we should use them.
"A mudra (meaning "seal", "mark", or "gesture"; Tibetan chakgya) is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism.While some mudras involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers. A mudrā is a spiritual gesture and an energetic seal of authenticity employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions and traditions of Dharma and Taoism." - Wikipedia
Let's start by finding out what each finger is said to represent in Murdas: -
Index finger: Air, self-worth, heart chakra, mental, lungs, large intestine, depression, sadness, grief, the Individual Soul
Ring finger: Earth, relationships, root chakra, liver, gall bladder, nervous system, anger, illusion
Little finger: Water, communication, second chakra, kidneys, fear, karma
Thumb: Fire, self-assertion, stomach, worry, the Supreme Soul
Fun Fact: Did you know that there are over 100 Mudras (108 to be exact)? Here are 10 of the more common ones, how to do them and what they represent, so you can pick and choose (and look all wise and yogic in your next class).
10 Common Yoga Mudras to Incorporate into Yoga
1. Chin Mudra (aka Gyan Mudra)
http://instagram.com/p/1tQKPdJvzT/?taken-by=tribal.gypsy.rose How: This is the most common Mudra, often described as the forefinger and thumb Mudra. The thumb and forefinger on each hand join at the tip and the rest of the fingers are spread out. If the fingertips face down, it's known as Chin or Gyan Mudra whereas if the fingertips face up towards the sky, it's called Jnana Mudra. Why: This Mudra activates the diaphragm. It's also a meeting of the Supreme Soul with the Individual Soul to try to unify the two.
2. Anjali Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/1zQo-EnYSR/?taken-by=laraliam How: The palms are pressed and sealed tightly together with the fingertips pointing upwards. This is also known as "Namaste Hands". Why: Anjali Mudra helps to alleviate anxiety and stress, helps concentration and is often used in meditation because it helps maintain the meditative state.
3. Apana Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/zz2GksncKZ/?taken-by=bungalowyogi How: The tips of middle and ring fingers meet the tip of thumb and the index and little fingers are stretched out. Why: This is the Mudra of digestion and is known to be detoxifying and regulate the body's waste system.
4. Adi Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/zs7yfOAqMO/?taken-by=cedarandsoul How: The fingers are folded down into a fist over the thumb and the thumb is touching the little finger. Traditionally, the hands are then placed palms-down on the thighs whilst in a seated position. Why: This mudra was the first ever Mudra you made as a baby! It makes the chest expand forward on inhalation as it activates the pecs making prana flow in the throat and in the head.
4. Prithvi Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/0048byNhs2/?taken-by=mirushiie How: The tips of the ring finger and thumb meet and the other three fingers are stretched out. Why: This is the Mudra of Earth and is known to bring strength by reducing ones weaknesses.
5. Varuna Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/z-6Y5zrGTO/?taken-by=hillarybeloved1 How: Tips of little finger and thumb meet with the other three fingers stretched out. Why: As the Mudra of Water, it balances water content in the body and battles dehydration by increasing the water element in the body.
6. Vayu Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/0BV1NJG_53/?taken-by=juliereneesmith How: Like Chin Mudra, except the index finger is tucked away and presses at the base of the thumb and the other three fingers are stretched out. Why: The Mudra of Air, Vayu Mudra is said to prevent airborne diseases.
7. Shunya Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/1zmOhctKUE/?taken-by=jelis_om_rockasana How: Like Vayu Mudra, but using the middle finger and keeping the other fingers stretched out. Why: Shunya Mudra is called the Mudra of Emptiness and reduces any dullness in the body.
8. Surya Mudra (aka Agni Mudra)
http://instagram.com/p/0Ew25MG_8g/?taken-by=juliereneesmith How: Like Vayu Mudra and Shunya Mudra but using the ring finger and keeping the other fingers stretched out. Why: Surya means Sun (just like Sun Salutations = Surya Namaskar) and this Murda is linked to the thyroid gland.
9. Prana Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/0kg22_KRFB/?taken-by=escapingstars How: Bending the ring and little fingers to touch the tip of thumb while keeping the other two fingers stretched out. Why: Prana Mudra is the Mudra of Life Force and is known to improve same, giving strength to weaker ones. Reduces clumps in blood vessels and gives more energy.
10. Hakini Mudra
http://instagram.com/p/ygFy7uQZAA/?taken-by=mayathon How: All the fingertips of the right hand touch the fingertips of the left hand, mirroring each other. The palms are separates and do not touch. Why: This mudra helps improve coordination between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. You can practice this mudra at anytime and anyplace. This video was the most thorough and informative video about Mudras that we found. Mudras are not only limited to simple finger placement. Have a look at Sahaj Agnisar which is one of the Mudras for irritable bowel syndrome relief. If you would like to read more about Mudras in more depth, check out these books: What are your experiences with Mudras? Have you felt their benefits? Is there any other information about Mudras you would like to share with us? Please let us know; we would love to hear from you.
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