Yoga offers so many wonderful tools. There are poses, breathing exercises, meditation techniques, and mantras. Another set of tools to add to the list are yoga mudras. Mudra means seal, and yoga mudras are symbolic gestures intended to facilitate the flow of energy in a direction that helps us connect with an intention we have for our practice.
The most common mudras are hand mudras, but there are also mudras for other parts of the body and even the body as a whole. Hand mudras are based on the idea that each finger has a corresponding element and we can interact with these elements through our gestures.
The connection between the fingers and the elements is this:
- Thumb – space
- Index finger – air
- Middle finger – fire
- Ring finger – water
- Pinky finger – earth
Along the same lines is the idea that each finger has a corresponding
- Thumb – worry
- Index finger – fear
- Middle finger – anger
- Ring finger – grief
- Pinky finger – trying (maybe too much)
You probably encountered mudras in some form even before you ever took a yoga class. Many of us are familiar with prayer mudra, for example. You’re also likely to recognize the gesture for peace and the one that means a person is angry!
Mudras have been around for thousands of years.
Four Yoga Mudras to Enhance Your Practice
Mudras are used often in Kundalini yoga, but most yoga traditions use them as well. They’re most common during meditation and can help set the tone for the type of meditation you’re doing.
1. Gyan Mudra
You’re likely familiar with this yoga mudra, which is often used in a simple seated meditation. In gyan mudra, the tip of the thumb touches the tip the index finger. In meditation, the backs of the hands can rest on your thighs while your fingers form the mudra. Gyan mudra enhances calmness and receptivity so we’re ready to receive the benefits of meditation.
2. Jupiter Mudra
If you need some luck, you may want to try Jupiter mudra. Here, the two index fingers are pressed together and extended up while the remaining fingers of both hands are clasped together. Yogis say Jupiter mudra helps focus energy so we can break through barriers.
3. Lotus Mudra
One of my favorite yoga mudras is lotus mudra. It’s formed by placing the heels of each hand and the tips
of the thumbs and pinkie fingers together, then spreading the other fingers to
open the hands like a lotus flower. Lotus mudra is a symbol of possibility and
4. Pran Mudra
If you need some energy, try pran mudra, the yoga mudra that gets its name from the word prana. Prana means life, and the gesture is used to enhance pranic energy and increase vitality. To form pran mudra, touch the tip of the pink and ring finger to the tip of the thumb. The index and middle finger remain straight, in roughly the gesture you’d you to make the “peace” sign.
As you’ll notice if you try meditating with and without yoga mudras, the hand gestures have a powerful effect on the mind by giving it something to focus on. Do you have a favorite mudra I didn’t mention here? Let us know what it is in the comments!