Definition - What is Gyan Mudra?

A mudra in yoga is a special gesture thats performed with the hands and fingers to symbolise a particular meaning. In the practice of yoga, it is believed  that by holding the hands, including the wrists, elbows, arms, and shoulders, in a certain position while practicing pranayama, can make your energies flow in the desired way. Mudras are usually practiced during seated yoga asanas like the Padmasana, Vajrasana, or the Sukhasana. One such mudra is Gyan Mudra. Gyan Mudra, meaning knowledge or wisdom gesture is one of the oldest and most important mudras that has been used in in both Hindu and Buddhist practice. Since the Gyan Mudra impacts and stimulates the air element, it is also known as the Vayu Vardhak Mudra. Gyan Mudra symbolises the union of oneself with the universe. The index finger, in ancient yogic traditions, is believed to be related to Jupiter, the planet of knowledge while the thumb represents awareness of oneself. Gyan Mudra, by bringing these two together, represents ones union with supreme knowledge and awareness. 

Who can do Gyan Mudra?

Anyone who wants to gain and enhance the therapeutic and calming benefits of meditation and pranayama can do Gyan Mudra. Some categories of people who could especially  benefit from perform this gesture include:

  • Those who feel sluggish or dull.
  • People who cannot concentrate on the task at hand.
  • People who feel that their responses are slow.
  • Those who feel stressed or anxious constantly.
  • Those who have fitful sleep patterns.
  • People who want to improve their memory.

Who should avoid Gyan Mudra?

There are certain categories of people, who, due to the following conditions, should avoid practicing this mudra. 

  • If you are feeling stressed or anxious, avoid practicing Gyan Mudra and pranayama since it may overheat your body and cause heart palpitations.
  • Anyone who has an injury in the elbows, wrists, shoulders, back, or arms should avoid practicing this.
  • If you have fever, cold, or flu.
  • If you have been diagnosed with cardiac issues or high blood pressure, avoid performing Gyan Mudra.

How does Gyan Mudra help?

There are several wonderful Gyan Mudra benefits for our mind, spirit and body. 

  • One of the most important Gyan Mudra benefits is that it helps in calming your nervous system. This has a great impact on reducing the stress and anxiety that you may be feeling due to daily stress and pressures. It can also help in control anger and help you have an open and positive outlook towards life and people.
  • Since it reduces stress and anxiety, Gyan Mudra can help you manage mental health issues and avoids letting them become larger and unmanageable issues in the future .
  • Since it improves and regulates the impact of the air element, Gyan Mudra also helps in improving the functioning of your gastrointestinal system by preventing conditions like constipation, bloat, flatulence, etc.
  • Since it eases your body and mind into a meditative state, it helps induce a feeling of spiritual connectedness and grounding towards your surroundings. 
  • While practicing Gyan Mudra asana, you activate the pressure points in your thumbs and the index fingers. Since these points are directly connected to your pituitary gland, this mudra helps in regulating and balancing your hormones, improves the functioning of your kidneys, enhances your immunity, helps your muscles strengthen and grow, and reduces the sensation of pain.
  • When practiced along with pranayama, this mudra helps in improving blood circulation, especially to your brain, further improving your memory, inducing  proper functioning of muscles, improving cardiovascular and lung function, and stabilizing the temperature of your body, curing cramps, etc.
  • Gyan Mudra asana is a great way to reduce the chatter in your mind and practice mindfulness. This helps in improving your thinking patterns, reducing instances of impulsive behaviour and actions.
  • Gyan Mudra yoga gesture helps in balancing your energy. It helps in reducing dullness and sluggishness and calming you when you are feeling too aggressive or excitable.
  • It helps in improving your appetite for knowledge. This improves your performance and productivity, especially at work.
  • Since your mind is calmer, you can sleep better and feel less fatigued.
  • It improves your memory, impulses, and responses. This, in turn, helps in preventing the risk of conditions like dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, etc.
  • Gyan mudra is a very effective gesture of yoga for weight loss. By performing this regularly, your stress hormone i.e. cortisol can be regulated, preventing excessive fat buildupespecially around your belly.
  • Since it puts your mind and body in a meditative state thats ready for yoga, its a very effective gesture to perform before practicing Surya Namaskar.

How is Gyan Mudra done?

Before we share the detailed step-by-step explanation of the Gyan Mudra yoga technique, you should know the significance of each finger to have a deeper understanding of this gesture and its benefits:

  • Index finger: Expansion, openness to change
  • Thumb: Oneself, individuality
  • Ring finger: Health, vitality, beauty
  • Middle finger: Emotions, devotion
  • Little finger: Relation with others, communication

Here is how Gyan Mudra is performed:

  1. Sit comfortably in the Padmasana, Vajrasana, or the Sukhasana pose.
  2. Ensure that your back is straight and the head is held high.
  3. Bring your hands to rest on your knees with your palms facing towards the ceiling.
  4. Gently touch the tip of your index finger with the tip of your thumb.
  5. The remaining three fingers should be stretched straight and kept parallel to each other.
  6. Close your eyes as you get into the purna Gyan Mudra and concentrate on your breathwork. You can also practice pranayama while performing Gyan Mudra.
  7. Start by practicing it for 5 minutes, 2-3 times in a day.

What are some tips for practicing Gyan Mudra safely?

Though Gyan Mudra is a very gentle yoga gesture, still there are points one needs to keep in mind before performing it:

  • Coupling Gyan Mudra with meditation or pranayama helps you manage of stress, depression, and anxiety.
  • To gain its maximum benefits, the mudra should be performed during the early morning hours of say 4-6 am. This is when you are mentally free and have an empty stomach.
  • Beginners must always learn the technique of performing Gyan Mudra from an expert yoga trainer at home or by joining online yoga classes. You can also learn through Gyan Mudra images for a better understanding of the right technique.
  • Always practice Gyan Mudra in a space thats clean and well-ventilated. A space thats cramped, noisy, or full of distractions will hinder your practice and not allow you to concentrate.
  • Start practicing Gyan Mudra slowly and build up gradually. Pushing yourself too much and too fast will do more harm than good.
  • Dont practice Gyan Mudra when you are experiencing severe stress, anxiety, fever, flu, or cold.
  • Be consistent with practice. Taking too many breaks in between is not productive when it comes to Gyan Mudra.
  • Gyan Mudra must be practiced in tandem with a healthy lifestyle. This should include avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking, exercising, and eating light and consuming food made from healthy recipes.
  • If you have suffered from an injury to your wrist, arms, shoulder, or hands, avoid practicing Gyan Mudra before you heal completely.

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February 18, 2022
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