What are mudras in yoga?
In yogic science, it is believed that the foundation of everything in this universe is ‘prana’. Known as ‘life-force energy’, prana is said to flow throughout our bodies and govern all of our actions- physical or mental.
One of the best ways to reinvigorate our vibrations and circulate more of this vital energy force in our body is by practising specific hand gestures that involve the five fingers of your hand. These hand gestures are known as mudras in yoga.
How do mudras in yoga work?
Mudras originate from Tatva Yog Mudra Vigyan, which is an independent branch of yoga that delves upon the fact that every living body is made up of five universal elements. And distortion in any of these elements causes disease and impairment in your life. The five fingers of the hands represent these elements:
- The thumb: Fire
- Forefinger: Wind
- Middle Finger: Ether
- Ring Finger: Earth
- Little Finger: Water
When a mudra is practised, you bring together your fingertips that have concentrated energy points. By touching together the fingertips in different combinations you create neural circuits that redirect, stimulate, and balance the above-mentioned elements in your body.
Besides hasta (hand) mudras, there are other different types of mudras in yoga too based on the part of the body that is used to express them. These types of mudras include:
- Mana- Head Mudras
- Kaya- Body Mudras
- Bandha- Heart Mudras
- Adhara- Perineal Mudras
Which are the most widely used mudras in yoga and what are their benefits?
The most widely used mudras in yoga are those done by hands. There are close to 24 mudras practised by hand. Out of the 24 mudras, here are the most widely used yoga mudras and their meanings.
- Chin mudra: Known as the mudra of consciousness, the aim of practising this yoga is to dispel ego and illusion and attain the supreme level of consciousness.
- Put your hand on your lap with your palms facing upwards.
- Join the tip of your thumb with the tip of the index finger in both hands.
- Stretch the other three fingers.
- Practice for about 10-12 minutes.
- This mudra prevents feelings of ego.
- It relieves insomnia and reduces fatigue.
- This yoga mudra calms your brain and reduces stress and anxiety.
- It makes the nervous system stronger and improves creativity and productivity.
- This mudra asana helps in managing the symptoms of diabetes.
- Vayu Mudra: Also known as the air element mudra, this mudra is effective for those who have Vata body types. This type of mudra is performed to balance the air element in the body and the associated health problems.
- Put your hands on your lap and bend your index finger at the thumb’s base.
- Press the second phalanx with your thumb.
- This mudra asana should be practiced with both hands and palms facing towards the sky.
- Practice this for 10-15 minutes.
- This is an excellent yoga mudra that helps relieve you of excess gas in the stomach.
- This mudra helps reduce pain associated with gout and sciatica.
- This yoga mudra reduces and prevents pain in the neck and lower back.
- It reduced the discomforting symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
- Adi Mudra: This mudra in yoga is also known as the First or the Primal Gestire. It gets its name from the hand pose that an infant has in their mother’s womb. It is performed to improve the energy chakras in the body.
- Keep your hands on your lap and create a fist by closing your fingers on your thumb.
- Your thumb must be placed inside the fist touching the base of the little finger.
- Your palms must be facing downwards.
- Hold the mudra for 10-15 minutes.
- This yoga mudra is performed with both hands.
- This type of mudra helps in increasing the functioning and vitality of your organs.
- It calms your brain and reduces anxiety, panic, and stress.
- This mudra improves your blood circulation.
- Dhyana Mudra: Also known as the Gesture of Meditation, this is done to improve your concentration and focus. Besides Hinduism, this is also widely practiced in Buddhism and Jainism.
- Sit in a comfortable position and put your hands on your lap.
- Bring both hands together and put your right hand over the left.
- Extend your finger and touch the tips of both thumbs.
- Practice this for 12-15 minutes.
- This mudra in yoga is practiced with both hands.
- This mudra helps in improving your memory, focus, and concentration and improves your productivity.
- It allows your brain to think beyond the usual and expand your horizons.
- This is an excellent mudra to relieve yourself from stress and mental pressure.
- It improves the balance and coordination in your body and prevents injuries.
How are mudras in yoga performed?
Whichever types of mudra in yoga you are practicing, you need to do it with consciousness and attention. Here are some steps that will help you gain the benefits of the different mudras in yoga:
- The place that you choose for practicing mudras in yoga, should be calm, clean, and free of distractions.
- To practice these mudras, you need to sit in a comfortable and relaxed position. If you are not comfortable sitting on the floor, you can even sit in a chair.
- Never practice mudras without learning their techniques properly. You can learn these from an experienced yoga practitioner or join online yoga classes. This is especially important for yoga for beginners.
- Before practicing any type of mudra in yoga, rub your hands for 30-40 seconds. This is essential for activating and stimulating the nerve endings that connect to different organs in your body.
- While doing yoga mudras, free your mind of all thoughts and worries.
- You must apply an adequate amount of pressure to activate the energy flow.
It is essential to know the yoga mudras and their meaning to gain their healing power. Combining different mudras in yoga with pranayama and meditation enhances the benefits of both the practices and helps you with lifelong health benefits.